Category Archives: Obama

Obama’s Gerrymander Fable

WSJ  10/13/2021,  By Karl Rove

I guess I should be honored that the National Democratic Redistricting Committee slapped my name and picture on its fundraising email, but am I really “the latest Republican attack on democracy?”

The committee’s appeal appeared after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were named co-chairmen of the National Republican Redistricting Trust and—horror!—I became an adviser to the group, which provides data and legal support to GOP efforts in the redistricting that occurs each decade.

The NRRT was formed in response to Democratic efforts organized in 2016 by former President Barack Obama and his attorney general Eric Holder. Mr. Holder is NDRC chairman, and Mr. Obama says the group is the main focus of his post-White House political activity. The NDRC works to elect more Democratic state legislators and then provide data and legal services as they draw maps. An affiliate, called All on the Line (AOTL), mobilizes volunteers for these endeavors.

Practicing habits they’ve built up over their political careers, Messrs. Obama and Holder cloak their activities in righteousness while angrily attacking similar efforts from Republicans. Mr. Holder says GOP redistricting maps represent “a threat to our democracy” and, along with recent election reforms, “put our entire system of government in jeopardy.” The “vicious cycle” of Republican “anti-democratic gerrymandering” will only produce victories by “candidates with unpopular and even dangerous views,” according to Mr. Holder.

This sort of rhetoric isn’t unusual from the NDRC or AOTL, which routinely rip into political rivals. In AOTL’s words, GOP governors in Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas are “showing disdain for our democracy” in their state’s redistricting. The group also denounced the Supreme Court for making it “harder to have a truly representative democracy.” Taking a page from the Trump playbook, an AOTL fundraising pitch claims that in the 2000 White House race, Republicans “pushed to disenfranchise voters and steal an election.” Mr. Obama should be ashamed of lending his prestige to such a charge.

Moreover, Messrs. Obama and Holder’s claim that they’re concerned only with crafting fair maps is bunk. Their definition of a “fair” map is one that gives Democrats an unfair advantage.

Take Maryland. Democrats wiped out a GOP seat in redistricting in 2011, giving the state seven Democratic representatives and one Republican. As this year’s redistricting heats up, Democratic leaders look to gut the state’s single remaining Republican district by dividing it among adjoining Democratic districts. Messrs. Obama and Holder haven’t said a thing.

Then there’s Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D., Ill.), who entered office pledging to end gerrymandering by giving the job of redistricting to an independent commission. That never happened. Instead, Democratic legislators are preparing a new congressional map that likely will wipe out two Republican districts while shoring up Democrats who are at risk in 2022. And guess what? Nothing but crickets from Mr. Obama and his old attorney general.

There’s also New York. In 2014 voters approved a nonpartisan commission to draw congressional lines that only a legislative supermajority could reject. How’s the state faring as it crafts new maps while losing one of its 27 seats in reapportionment? First, the Democratic Legislature tried starving the commission, refusing to supply funds to operate.

Then Democratic commissioners refused to meet with Republicans to settle on a bipartisan map, while their party’s legislative leaders worked to weaken the supermajority vote requirement. Gov. Kathy Hochul also pledged to flip GOP congressional seats, which could take the delegation from today’s 19-8 Democratic majority to 23-3. Again, no denunciation of “threats to democracy” or cries of “fair maps or death!” from Messrs. Obama and Holder.

They’re quick to scream when Republicans’ share of a congressional delegation is larger than their share of the vote, but they never apply this standard to states where Democrats dominate redistricting. Take Oregon, where Democrats have 80% of the seats though Republicans received 40% of the vote. Or Massachusetts, where Democrats have 100% of contested seats and Republicans received 33% of the vote. Or California, where Democrats have 76% of seats contested by the GOP while Republicans received 38% of the vote. Or Illinois, where Democrats hold 67% of seats even though Republicans got 41% of the vote. Or . . . well, you get the picture.

Mr. Obama gave away his game in a recent email. “Every issue we care about—from income inequality and health care to climate policy—depends on the results of this redistricting process.” So this isn’t about fairness, democracy or ending gerrymandering. In redistricting, Democrats want to elect more of their partisans to advance their agenda. So do Republicans. The only difference is that Messrs. Obama and Holder are hypocrites about it, claiming a higher purpose. Like I said, old habits die hard.

Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads and is author of “The Triumph of William McKinley” (Simon & Schuster, 2015).

https://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-gerrymander-fable-holder-redistricting-republican-seats-nrrt-drc-aotl-karl-rove-11634158472?mod=opinion_lead_pos10

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The Obama-Biden Virus Response

Easier and easier to forget when as you age. mrossol 

WSJ 8/22/2020 by Kimberly Strassel

Is it reasonable to blame a single politician for the spread of a highly infectious virus, especially in a free country with 50 states and 330 million people? Joe Biden is lucky that wasn’t the standard a decade ago.

If the Democratic convention produced one theme it’s that Donald Trump is personally at fault for every coronavirus death. The message is that crazy, that blunt. Kamala Harris: “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives.” Barack Obama: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead.”

Democrats even claim Mr. Biden saved lives in 2014. Michelle Obama: “Our leaders had worked hand in hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.” Ms. Harris last week: “Remember that pandemic? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people died in the United States.”

Ebola is a terrifying disease, but outbreaks tend to happen only in very poor nations, and if caught early the virus is difficult to transmit outside hospitals. Anthony Fauci said in 2014 that a U.S. outbreak was “very, very, very unlikely.” Mr. Obama told Americans to chill out: “Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.”

The Ebola example is designed to divert attention from a more relevant comparison: the H1N1 swine-flu outbreak of 2009-10. Democrats don’t like to talk about H1N1, because it didn’t go well. If it had been as deadly as Covid-19, the toll would have been catastrophic. The history is a powerful reminder that governments can’t stop a virus—although they can make epidemics worse.

H1N1 began much like corona, with panicked stories in late April 2009 about a novel “hybrid” flu strain in Mexico that was popping up in the U.S. It was even more alarming, in that it especially affected children. Yet the new administration began with a muddled message. Mr. Obama encouraged calm, while Mr. Biden rambled a warning about staying off airplanes and public transport—prompting backlash. “Biden’s flu gaffe a headache for Obama,” read one headline.

Within days, some 30 states had suspected cases, and by April 27 the U.S. had its first death, a 23-month-old child. Other countries started shutting facilities, telling citizens to stay home, quarantining visitors. The Obama administration still had no idea how deadly the disease was, though the World Health Organization called the outbreak a threat to “all humanity,” and health experts predicted hospitals would be overloaded.

The administration nonetheless took a resigned approach to its spread. Mr. Obama didn’t close the Mexican border, saying that would “be akin to closing the barn doors after the horses are out.” His officials did declare a health emergency (Mr. Obama was golfing that day) and distributed the national stockpile (which they never replenished). The administration recommended schools “consider” closing if experiencing an outbreak, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief said this might not help with spread and warned about taking kids out of classrooms. No one considered a national lockdown, especially not an administration focused on a fragile economic recovery. Mr. Obama promised to “control” the “impact” of the virus—not the virus itself. He asked Congress for all of $1.5 billion.

Authorities grew more optimistic as H1N1 turned out to be less deadly than had been feared, but they still faced the risk of an uglier strain in the fall. Team Obama promised 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October. (A flu vaccine is easier to produce than a coronavirus vaccine). But government setbacks in production, manufacturing and dosing protocols resulted in only 11 million doses, prompting national outrage. By that point, the CDC estimated 22 million Americans had been infected, 36,000 children hospitalized, and 540 kids had died.

Before Covid-19, Democrats were willing to admit they’d dodged a bullet. Former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said at Texas A&M in 2019: “We did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it is just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the great mass-casualty events in American history. [It] had nothing to do with us doing anything right; just had to do with luck. If anyone thinks that can’t happen again, they don’t have to go back to 1918. Just go back to 2009, 2010. Imagine a virus with a different lethality, and you can just do the math.”

Yes, let’s do the math. The U.S. has some five million reported cases of coronavirus and 170,000 deaths. A virus with the spread of H1N1 and fatality rate of Covid-19 could produce a death toll approaching two million. The Trump administration response has been flawed—in particular its initial testing delays. But let’s acknowledge (as Democrats once did) that there is only so much government can do to “control” a germ. As for distributing equipment, providing antivirals and developing a vaccine, the current response has so far met or exceeded 2009-10. Mr. Biden is free to argue he’s a better man for the White House; he shouldn’t get to rewrite history, or virology.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-obama-biden-virus-response-11597966209

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