In The Red Zone


Ah, autumn. The morning air is crisp, like the money Obamacare will lift from your wallet. Your breath begins to fog the air like the teary-eyed mewling of global warming pseudo-scientists. Temperatures drop like President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. The foliage erupts with hues reminiscent of John Boehner’s face and Maureen Dowd’s hair. Meanwhile, Americans gather in living rooms across the nation and drink cheap beer, eat the kind of food which makes cardiologists put down deposits on new Mercedes S-Class sedans, and roar for their favorites to push the ball across the goal line.

Oh, and there’s that whole “midterm election” thing, which is nowhere near the red, white and blue Americana as NFL Sundays and their attendant heartache and heartburn; but a great deal more heartwarmingly patriotic than two more years of saying “Speaker Pelosi.”

As Republicans roll toward a possible capture of both houses of Congress, and Democrats begin calling the movers and packing their “Most Likely to Win the Convicted Felon Vote” trophies, I decided to add a little pigskin patois to the upcoming electoral proceedings, and offer a look at a few races which are demonstrative of the changing tide of American politics. Obviously, I’m not going to cover the whole electoral gridiron, Personal Liberty Digest patriots, there’s always room in the comments section.

Sharron Angle v. Harry Reid
U.S. Senate — Nevada

The Mean Girl versus the Milquetoast. Republicans can take control of both Houses, a conservative revolution can grip the nation like Michael Moore getting his paws on the last hot-glazed at Krispy Kreme, and the Dems will still breathe a collective sigh of relief if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s purse-porter can somehow hang on in the Silver State. Reid has lived on the edge in recent years, using the liberal bent of the mainstream media to hide everything from Jack Abramoff ties to patronage scandals. With Pelosi beyond the GOP’s reach inside her wealthy San Francisco perimeter, Reid is the top 2010 target. Reid’s political longevity may work in his favor, but familiarity has bred some serious contempt for incumbents this season. If Angle was slightly less gaffe-prone, Reid, a former boxer, would be on the canvas for good. As it is, this one is going down to the wire, with neither candidate able to cross the 50 percent approval Rubicon in 2010. I’ll call it an upset, with the aging champ finally taking the tumble.
Pick: Angle 50.5-47

Chris Coons v. Christine O’Donnell
U.S. Senate — Delaware

Something tells me that Christine O’Donnell is less of a legitimate candidate, and more of a statement by the Tea Party that the GOP had better get used to playing ball. After all, this race wasn’t supposed to be a race at all. Mike Castle should have locked this one up back when Joe Biden bounced to go play Johnny to Obama’s Señor Wences. But O’Donnell, backed by the Tea Party, showed Castle the door, simultaneously allowing otherwise forgettable Democrat Chris Coons to sneak through. I’m sure conservatives would love to claim this one is in play, but O’Donnell’s first ad was a plea to First Staters to trust that she wasn’t auditioning for Macbeth in her spare time. We’ve all heard the adage: “any publicity is good publicity.” Not necessarily, kids. With little else to fight over in Delaware, look for moderates to either stay home or begrudgingly cast ballots for Coons.
Pick: Coons 55-41

Michelle Bachmann v. Tarryl Clark
U.S. House — Minnesota (6)

Bachmann’s definitive statements infuriate Democrats and energize conservatives. Whether it’s her speculation that Obama “may have un-American views,” or her suggestion that some members of the Beltway crowd deserve investigation for “anti-Americanism,” Bachmann is one of those unapologetic types who make the wingnuts sputter with rage even more than normal. Her statement that opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque should be Federally investigated… oops, that was Nancy Pelosi. Both Bachmann and Clark are well-funded; and in what may well be an Electoral Waterloo for Democrats, they’d love to take Bachmann’s seat as a consolation prize. It won’t be easy — Bachmann has Tea Party backing, she’s a vigorous campaigner, and she’s a two-term incumbent.
Pick: Bachmann 52-46

Jerry Brown v. Meg Whitman
Governor — California

Where else? Former Governor, Mayor of Oakland, paramour of Linda Ronstadt and “Buddhist Economist” Jerry Brown heads into Election Day 2010 with a slight lead in most polls. The man dubbed “Governor Moonbeam” by some is by no means the strangest cat in California, but Meg Whitman’s campaign has done little to convince voters that Brown is an intellectual extraterrestrial. With Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger departing with approval ratings reminiscent of the disgraced Gray Davis (23 percent), it’s hard to imagine any Republican having any chance at all. But 2010 has been about as normal as the hairstyles on the Santa Monica pier. Whitman has a chance, but so do the rubes playing the nickel slots in Tahoe.
Pick: Brown 51-46

Barbara Boxer v. Carly Fiorina
U.S. Senate — California

It’s a good thing Californians don’t have photo arrays built into their voting machines. A casual glance at Boxer and Fiorina reveals an odd similarity of appearance. It’s also a good thing these two are not related, although Thanksgiving dinner at THAT house would be fun to watch — from outside. Boxer won by 20+ back in 2004, and Obama carried California by close to 25 points in 2008. But the economic meltdown which has hit the Golden State particularly hard, combined with Obama’s colossal ineptitude in response, has damaged Boxer’s chances somewhat. Considering Boxer lists so far to port that she actually refused to certify the 2004 Ohio election results based on the DNC’s fake Diebold-machine scandal, it’s safe to say that inland Golden Staters, who tend to lean right, may show up just to help Babs pack her bags. Neither Boxer nor Fiorina has 50 percent polling averages, with Boxer just ahead, I’m calling upset.
Pick: Fiorina 50.5-48

Proposition 19
Ballot initiative to decriminalize personal/recreational marijuana use

People who are unfamiliar with California’s internal politics probably assumed this was already the law of the land in the Golden State. Oddly, it isn’t. Perhaps more oddly, absolutely no one of significance on the California ballot supports it — including Jerry Brown, who would probably switch sides if the bill legalized LSD. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that the Feds will pick up where the state leaves off if Prop 19 passes, which may actually boost Prop 19’s chances, especially if every pothead in California stumbles into the polls on Nov. 2.
Pick: NO 53-47

Ike Skelton v. Vicky Hartzler
U.S. House — Missouri (4)

The mere fact that Skelton’s seat is even threatened is newsworthy in and of itself. Skelton has represented Harry Truman’s old district for more than three decades, and is a reasonably moderate Democrat. Skelton is also the chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, not a position normally held by a representative whose head may be on the block. Skelton held a double-digit polling lead a few months ago, but votes for TARP, the stimulus and Cap and Trade have dragged him into a dead heat with former State Legislator Hartzler. Skelton is nearly as old as Missouri statehood, and his clock may well be running out this time.
Pick: Hartzler 48-42.

Charlie Crist v. Marco Rubio v. Kendrick Meek
U.S. Senate — Florida

Charlie Crist used to be a Republican, more or less. Then, when former State Assemblyman Marco Rubio began showing signs of upending Crist in the GOP primary to replace the retiring Mel Martinez, Charlie dropped out to run as an independent. When conservatives statewide began showing signs of abandoning Crist, then he said he might caucus with Democrats if elected. When Crist said that his polling numbers against Rubio began to plunge like South Beach necklines. All of that was then. This is now. Rubio is way ahead to stay. Oh — Congressman Kendrick Meeks is the Democrat entry in this race. I’m sure someone will have a nice parting gift for him.
Pick: Rubio 47 – Crist 31 – Meek…a few.

Richard Blumenthal v. Linda McMahon
U.S. Senate — Connecticut

Ask any political satirist in the western world which race means the most, and they’ll probably tell you: “Sharron Angle versus Harry Reid.” Fair enough, the possible upset of the Desert Rat by The New York Times’ least favorite woman (other than Sarah Palin) is certainly newsworthy. But secretly, we all want Linda McMahon to give Richard Blumenthal a game. After all, if the former WWE executive wins, the jokes pretty much write themselves for the next six years. Just imagine the headlines the morning after a McMahon upset:

“Linda Lays the Smackdown!”
“McMahon Bodyslams Blumenthal”

This one should have been what the wrestling biz calls a “squash match.” In the race to replace the retiring Chris Dodd, Blumenthal has done as much to keep McMahon in the match as she has for herself. He exaggerated his military service record, which in actuality makes John Kerry a regular Audie Murphy by comparison. He flat-out lied about never accepting PAC money while bagging more than $200,000 in the first quarter of 2010 alone. And then there was that YouTube-tastic moment during the debate when McMahon choke-slammed him (see?) on job creation.

Nonetheless, recent polling has Blumenthal’s lead hovering in the double-digit arena. McMahon will have to come off the top rope with a serious elbow to win this belt. (I couldn’t resist.)
Pick: Blumenthal 54-44

There are quite a few races which I could have mentioned; but bandwidth trumps punditry. Alabama’s 2nd is worth a look, as is Colorado’s 7th. Joe Sestak has come back from the dead against Pat Toomey in the race to fill the Pennsylvania Senate seat which Arlen Specter essentially abdicated. In Ohio, former GOP congressional heavyweight John Kasich holds a slim margin over gubernatorial incumbent Ted Strickland.

And let’s not forget New York’s gubernatorial race, where hookers statewide harbor hope that Andrew Cuomo will turn into Client 11 — if Carl Paladino doesn’t hit him with a shovel beforehand.

The rest I leave to you, fellow Livingstonians. Vote early, vote often — oops, that’s ACORN.

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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