I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Partisan shill pop quiz

Q. How do you know for sure that you are a mindless partisan hack without even an iota of intellectual honesty?

A. If you shill the party line and defend the Party even more automatically and shamelessly than its own elected officials and political operatives.

Virginia yesterday elected as its new Governor Democratic candidate Tim Kaine, even though Virginia is a solidly red state, and even though George Bush himself materialized in that state over the weekend to instruct the previously obedient GOP legions to go to the polls and vote for Republican Jerry Kilgore.

GOP operatives and politicians are admitting the obvious, because (even) they have to: this is a bad sign for Republicans and a by-product of Bush's staggering unpopularity:

''Republicans are not so angry at the president that they want to vote for the other guy. They just stayed home,'' said GOP consultant Rich Galen. Others noted that Bush battled conservative allies over Miers' failed Supreme Court nomination and has drawn criticism from within the GOP ranks for government spending.

''The one bright spot for my party,'' joked Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, ''is that the tab for the victory party at the Republican headquarters will be much smaller than if we had won.''

So there seems to be a consensus, even among the most faithful GOP followers, that last night was a bad night for Republicans and is, to one degree or another, reflective of its weakened national state, right?

Paul at Powerline is not buying it! He is here to tell us that the GOP losses last night are irrelevant – totally irrelevant – and do not in any way reflect poorly on Bush’s or the GOP’s overall health - not at all:

The Democrats will trumpet this win as evidence that they are on the comeback trail. They may very well be on that trail, but this race provides no good evidence of it. Kaine won because Democratic governor Mark Warner is extraordinarily popular (his approval rating is around 70 percent). There are no national implications here, unless the Dems are wise enough to run Warner for president in 2008, and they aren't.

See, this was all just about Mark Warner. It was just this weird little aberration in Virginia. There’s nothing to see here at all, just move along. Just because Bush personally went to that state and urged voters to turn out to vote for Kilgore -- and they just ignored him, or even did the opposite -- doesn’t say anything at all about Bush’s political standing. And so what if the GOP lost in Virginia, it’s not like Virginia is Texas or Alabama or anything.

And so it goes . . . at least they can ring a new slogan out of this:

"The Powerline Boys – spewing the Party line even more slavishly and mindlessly than the Party itself!"

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