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Not the wild wild west anymore

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Barack Obama can learn from Bill Ritter.
By Ryan Lizza | NewYorker.com

One day in early August, Bill Ritter, Jr., the governor of Colorado, met with Steve Feld, a professional filmmaker, to work on the video that will welcome delegates to the Democratic National Convention—and present Colorado to the rest of the country. Feld, whose television credits include “The New Lassie” and “America’s Funniest People,” steered the Governor toward a conference room on the seventeenth floor of a downtown building and clipped a microphone to his lapel. The backdrop for the shoot, visible through a window, was the city of Denver—bristling with construction cranes and skyscrapers for high-tech companies like Qwest Communications—and, in the distance, the Rockies.

Ritter was elected governor in 2006 by a persuasive seventeen-point margin—a victory that emphasized Colorado’s political transformation. In just the past four years, Democrats have won control of the sixty-five-member Colorado House, where they now hold a fifteen-seat majority, and the thirty-five-member Senate, where they’re up by five seats. In 2004, the Democrat Ken Salazar, a former state attorney general, won the United States Senate seat that was vacated by the Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Democrats now occupy four of Colorado’s seven seats in the House of Representatives. This November, the Party is favored to win the state’s other Senate seat (the incumbent Republican, Wayne Allard, is retiring), and Democrats are increasingly confident about picking up a fifth House seat. (George W. Bush won Colorado in both of his Presidential elections, but his margin fell from eight points in 2000 to less than five points in 2004.) There’s a reason that the Party chose Denver as the host city for this year’s Convention: they expect that it will only help the Democratic Presidential nominee to win the state this fall....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Bush nothing more than a idelogical hack

A president driven by ideology. A Congress rife with corruption. A political party hellbent on a "permanent majority." A leading scholar examines the radicals who hijacked the GOP — and wrecked the longest conservative ascendancy in American history

By Sean Wilentz

the failure of the administration of George W. Bush — and the accompanying crisis of the Republican Party — has caused a political meltdown of historic proportions. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Bush enjoyed the greatest popularity ever recorded for a modern American president. Republicans on Capitol Hill, under the iron rule of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, fattened their coffers through a fearsome operation overseen by corporate lobbyists and GOP henchmen that functioned more like an empire than an old-fashioned political machine. "Republican hegemony," the prominent conservative commentator Fred Barnes rejoiced in 2004, "is now expected to last for years, maybe decades."

Now, only four years later, Bush is leaving office with the longest sustained period of public disapproval ever recorded. No president, at least in modern times — and certainly no two-term president — has risen so high only to fall so low. Indeed, Bush's standings in the polls describe one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the American presidency — second only, perhaps, to that of Richard Nixon, the only president ever forced to resign from office. And in Congress, the indictment and downfall of DeLay and a host of associated scandals involving, among others, the Republican superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, have badly damaged the party's image. The supremacy of the GOP, once envisioned by party operatives as a "permanent majority," may be gone for a very long time to come.

At first glance, the collapse of the Republican Party seems rapid and unexpected. When viewed within the larger context of American history, however, the party's breakdown looks familiar, even predictable. As in earlier party crackups — 1854, 1932, 1968 — the demise has involved not a single, sudden explosion but a gradual unraveling followed by a sharp and rapid deterioration amid major national calamities. If Bush and the Republican majority in Congress accelerated the demise of Ronald Reagan's political era with their assault on traditional American values and institutions — including the rule of law itself — it is a decline that began two decades ago....(Click here for remainder of article).

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