Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006


Constitution in the balance

Some -- like the Strib's Nick Coleman -- have postulated the nature of bloggers thusly:

Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.
Bloggers don't know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square -- without editors, correction policies or community standards. And so their tripe is often as vicious as it is vacuous.

Is it just possible, Nick, that the very reason we started a blog was because we were alarmed at what was happening before we moved the hot plate and empty SpaghettiOs can aside and sat down at our 486 PC?

I will not attempt to speak for others but the most compelling reason this "hobby hack" started a blog focused on a U.S. Senate election 26 months away is because our very constitutional form of government hangs in the balance. In the words of Galadriel (o.k., Coleman, I am a geek) "Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all".

For those who care to notice, our constitution has been under assault for more than a half century but particularly over the last 30 years. No, Nick, I didn't go to law school. I met my sweetheart right after college and went about the business of raising a family. But I do know that judges have been getting increasingly "creative" with the plain text of the law. Even this supposedly "conservative" Rhenquist Court has been ignoring entire tracts of the founding document and conjuring up other doctrines that are simply not contained therein.

Suprisingly, USA Today gets the stakes exactly right in this piece:

A departure by any of the justices could have broad consequences in the law. If Bush were to pick a replacement for Stevens, for example, it could mean greater restrictions on abortion and affirmative action, among other things. But if Kerry were able to replace Rehnquist, the court could swing to the liberals' favor, and abortion rights and affirmative action policies could get more protection.
There are several competitive Senate races this fall, and the ultimate balance of power in the chamber would also affect any nomination.

It is for stakes like these that this "graffiti artist" decided to bring his thoughts to bear on a Senate contest more than 2 years away. I suspect it was for similar reasons a lawyer/professor from South Dakota is doing his best to contribute to the defeat of a sitting Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate and why many others will follow in his path over the next several election cycles. It's the Constitution, stupid!



Although paid endorsements for ex-Senate Minority Leaders are not as lucrative as for ex-Presidents, the product below could be a nice supplement to Sen. Daschle's generous congressional pension should he be retained as a spokesman. In light of today's "Pillowgate" revelation at Daschle v. Thune, the timing could not be better for the soon-to-be-retired Daschle.

The link via Drudge.

Update: we don't even want to know where the arm goes...

Another Update: Great Thanks to Professor Lauck for linking to Dayton v. Kennedy! Our first link!


Even Money

Jon Lauck has already made the case that the one marginally competitive race that Tom Daschle has ever had was his first, in 1986 against an inept Republican incumbent, James Abdnor. Moreover, he won at the nadir of the farm crisis that swept away many prairie state Republicans during Reagan's "six year itch".

So what kind of competition has Daschle had since '86? Well, in 1992 he was matched against Charlene Haar and garnered nearly 65% of the vote in a year the senior Bush could only muster 41% of the vote in the presidential contest. In 1998 the Republicans were running on Monicagate and little else. Ron Schmidt was kept to 36% of the vote faring like nearly every other Republican challenger that year.

The question is can Tom Daschle be reelected in one of the most conservative states in the Union while promising the premier antiwar propagandist of our time that he will "do better"? While facing his most articulate and best financed challenger? While an incumbent Republican president will be registering a 25-30 point margin in the state?

Even money seems generous.

Daschle v. Thune

At the urging of Professor Jon Lauck -- trailblazing proprietor of Daschle v. Thune -- Dayton v. Kennedy will devote much of the remainder of this election cycle to expanding the Republican majority next door in South Dakota.

John J. Miller, National Review's resident Senate prognosticator is saying the Republicans will net +2 Senate seats this year. Surprisingly, he does not count South Dakota among the likely pickups:

SOUTH DAKOTA: Republicans may not have a bigger target in the year's Senate races than Minority Leader Tom Daschle. They're banking on former congressman John Thune performing better than he did two years ago, when he narrowly lost to Sen. Tim Johnson. Most polls show Daschle ahead, but not by much. This time, Republicans will be keeping a closer watch on ballot boxes in Indian country. LEANING DEMOCRATIC RETENTION.

Contrast this with a recent Reuters story as profiled at

Recent polling has put this race alternately at a Thune +3 margin to a Daschle +5 margin.


Great minds...

I was pleased to find out I was on the same wavelength as Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson of Powerline fame who had a post very similar to mine of earlier today. I loved Trunk's admonition that we give Mark plenty of time to watch the tube after '06. Let's help return him to the ranks of the idle rich.

Dayton "boycotts" Allawi speech

As Hugh Hewitt noted re: John Kerry's absence from the Allawi speech yesterday:

"So John Kerry will end his political career as he began it, attacking America's role in a just war, undermining the morale of the troops who are fighting it, and expressing contempt for the leadership of a nation struggling to be free of oppressors. It is the only mark of consistency he's displayed, but not one that many voters will admire."

Substitute Mark Dayton for John Kerry and the observation loses not a thing.

Is it just me or is "boycott" a curious choice of words? Boycott is what you do when you have a moral objection to someone or something. Dayton may have a serious policy difference with the President and his Iraqi policy. But Allawi can hardly be considered someone worthy of moral opprobrium. As Hugh notes: "Every morning the sun rises on thousands of jihadists who spend their next many hours trying to murder Allawi". Allawi's crime: trying to build a democratic Iraq. Hmmm...sticking your neck out for the cause of freedom. We must boycott this Allawi character immediately! Nice logic, Senator.

Update from "Anonymous" (Joe Klein, is that you?) notes the same thing from Newsmax.

We love the "little known leftist" bit...


... and what communion hath light with darkness?

Apparently they have Minnesota in common...

Golden Oldie

The below is cut liberally (in the best sense of the word) from Captain's Quarters from the Spring of 2004. The incoherence is staggering. The ignorance about national security is blood curdling. To paraphrase Jon Lovitz's Michael Dukakis from a 1988 SNL bit: "How did Rod Grams lose to this guy?"

May 07, 2004
Minnesotans Owe You An Apology
I just heard the exchange between Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Richard Myers at the Senate hearings regarding the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The transcript of the exchange has to be either read or heard to be believed. The worst of it -- but not all of it -- revolved around Myers' request to CBS to delay the publication of the pictures until the hot spots where troops were taking fire, and could conceivably be captured, until after they had pacified those areas. Dayton became hysterical at the notion that the military might ask the media to assist them in keeping American troops as safe as possible, under the circumstances:

DAYTON: Mr. Secretary, is that standard procedure for the military command of this country to try to suppress a news report at the highest level?

MYERS: It didn't -- let me just -- Senator Dayton, this is a serious allegation...

DAYTON: Sure is.

MYERS: ... and it's absolutely -- the context of your question, I believe, is wrong. ... This was not to suppress anything. What I asked CBS News to do was to delay the release of the pictures, given the current situation in Iraq, which was as bad as it had been since major combat ended, because I thought it bring direct harm to our troops; it would kill our troops.
We talked about it, and I said, "I know this report will eventually come out. But this -- if you can delay it for some period of time -- it would be helpful."

Dayton, a moment later, gave this speech:
DAYTON: I would just say, General -- and I agree with your assessment of the consequences of this on our troops, and that's the great tragedy of this, but attempts to suppress news reports, to withhold the truth from Congress and from the American people is antithetical to democracy. ... And whatever the intentions may be, sir, the result is always the same. And it's, I think, terribly tragic that the president, who wants to expand democracy around the world, by actions of his own administration is undermining that democracy in the United States.
That's always the result when people try to control information, delay it, manage it and suppress it, it has that result. It's antithetical to a democracy.

Rumsfeld had had enough at this point, and forcefully interjected:
RUMSFELD: May I speak a minute, Mr. Senator?
Throughout the history of this country, there have been instances where military situations have existed that have led government to talk to members of the media and make an editorial request of them that they delay for some period disclosing some piece of information. It is not against our history. It is not against our principles. It is not suppression of the news. And it's a misunderstanding of the situation to say it is.

DAYTON: It is against our principles. It's against our principles when you come before 40 to 45 members of the Senate three hours before that news report is going to occur and don't mention one word about it, sir.
That is antithetical to democracy and the Constitution, which has the Senate and the House as co-equal responsibility for this country.

No sooner had this ludicrous assertion escaped Dayton's lips, in contradiction to centuries of polite and proper interaction between the military and the media, than he challenged Rumsfeld and Myers to explain why they felt it was necessary to send tanks and troops into a war zone:

You're increasing the number of forces, the number of tanks over there. How can this have anything to do but to escalate the level of violence, the opposition of Iraqis, intensify the hatred across the Arab world to the United States, and more atrocities? How can this have any result other than to put us deeper into this situation and make the conditions there worse for our forces and for our nation and for the world?

Son of Daschle v. Thune...

Friends & Visitors:

This week TIME magazine finally stumbled across the phenomenon known as the web log or "blog". It was actually 2 Minneapolis lawyers at who uncovered the fact that Dan Rather was using forged documents in his 60 Minutes II story about President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam war. Several weeks ago it was the"blogosphere" that chronicled the accusations of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of over 250 servicemen who served with John Kerry, until such time as the main stream media (hereafter known as MSM) could no longer ignore their accusations. Combined, these two stories have transformed the dynamics of the 2004 race for President.

At the state level blogs have sprouted to track other political contests, most famously in "Daschle v. Thune", a blog that follows the battle for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota and pits Minority Leader Daschle -- long known for obstructing the legislative agenda of President Bush -- against former Representative John Thune. Thank you to Professor Jon Lauck for paving the way for this and similar sites. I genuinely believe his efforts will contribute mightily to a concession speech by Senator Daschle in 40 days.

This is my contribution to the blogosphere --Dayton v. Kennedy -- which is my effort to chronicle what I think will prove to be the biggest Senate battle of the 2006 election cycle. If you like politics it may prove interesting and amusing.

It will be very much a work in progress which is the nature of a blog. It may prove to be a flop as Rep. Kennedy has not even won reelection to his House seat (there is the little matter of Patti Wetterling) let alone declared himself a candidate for Senate in '06. Another possibility is that Kennedy will lose the Republican nomination. But if my political prognosticating proves correct, I think Dayton v. Kennedy could prove to be the premier destination for following this titanic contest. Enjoy.

Warm Regards,

Gary M. Miller

Higher Calling?

The purpose of this blog is outlined in this Minnesota Public Radio piece of December, 2003: the much anticipated matchup between Rep. Mark Kennedy and Senator Mark Dayton:

Some of the biggest political speculation in Minnesota has nothing to do with the 2004 election. Instead, it's looking ahead to 2006 when DFL incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton is up for re-election. One of the names most often mentioned as a Republican who might challenge Dayton is 6th District Congressman Mark Kennedy, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000. Kennedy says he's proud of his accomplishments in Washington. He says voters appreciate GOP efforts to cut taxes, increase foreign trade and streamline government.
Washington, D.C. — Mark Kennedy ushered in the new century by changing occupations. He shed a successful business career, for life in politics.
"My focus has always been on how do we get things done. You hear stories about how it's impossible to do that in Congress, and actually I've found that we have been able to get things done," Kennedy says.

Kennedy says the biggest thing Congress got done was passing President Bush's more than $1.5 trillion in tax cuts which Kennedy says are helping turn around the economy.
Mark Kennedy, 46, is a Republican who grew up in rural Minnesota. Kennedy is an ardent supporter of expanding foreign trade, lowering taxes and reducing government regulations. He opposes legalized abortion and further restrictions on gun ownership. Kennedy talks a lot about shifting control from the federal government to local governments.
"Too much of the power at the local level transferred to Washington, so a big part of why I ran was to try to push that power back to the counties, the cities and the school boards," he says.
Kennedy takes great pride in the fact he was the first man in his family to attend college. Kennedy, his wife and four children live in Watertown, about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis.
Kennedy attracted national attention when, in his first bid for elected office, he upset 2nd District Democratic Congressman David Minge in 2000. Most thought Minge was a shoo-in for re-election, but Kennedy won by a razor-thin margin.
In addition to enthusiastically supporting the Bush administration's tax cuts, Kennedy backed the White House's push for "fast-track" trade authority, which cleared the way for the president to negotiate trade deals outside of congressional oversight.
"The presidential trade authority passed by one vote," Kennedy says proudly. "I was that one vote, because I think that trade is critically important for our agricultural economy, for our overall economy. We are an exporting state."

I don't know if I'm running for Senate. But if I am, I'm for me.- U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy

According to Congressional Quarterly, more than any other member of Minnesota's congressional delegation, Mark Kennedy has voted with the White House. The Minnesota DFL calls Kennedy a "slavish follower of the Republican Party line." But Kennedy insists his votes are rooted in ideology, not loyalty or partisanship.
"I would suggest that it's a good thing the party is usually right, because I vote what my values have taught me," said Kennedy. "There have been times when I've disagreed with the party, when I've disagreed with the president."
Kennedy has opposed the Bush administration's calls for exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugee -- ANWR. He also spoke out against the White House's decision to impose tariffs on foreign steel, and he applauded the recent lifting of the steel tariffs.
Kennedy also bucked the administration's "No Child Left Behind" education law, as did the majority of Minnesota's delegation.
Kennedy ran for re-election last year, but not in the 2nd District where he was originally elected. Because of the once-every-10-year congressional redistricting, Kennedy ran in the newly-configured 6th District. He had to introduce himself to a new group of voters. The new district left him with only about 10 percent of his original territory.
But Kennedy won again, soundly defeating DFLer Janet Robert, even though Robert outspent him and hammered him with attack ads. Kennedy says the attacks backfired.

"I think it's a credit to the voters that they were able to see through all of the misleading propaganda that was out there, to really understand what the true facts and the record of accomplishment that I have established in my first term."
Now about a year into his second term, Kennedy has been concentrating on transportation. He's promoting a law that would allow states to charge tolls to raise money to add lanes on federal interstate highways. Kennedy introduced his Freeing Alternatives for Speedy Transportation --or FAST ACT -- last spring.
Kennedy says it's a revolutionary approach to easing traffic congestion without raising taxes. "My Fast Act has been one of the most significant things. We've had governors and state highway transportation departments from across the country, and associations from across the spectrum, sign on to that," Kennedy says. "I think that will transform the highway bill in a way that, as the Heritage Foundation says, the most significant change in transportation policy since the highway bill itself."
At a recent school assembly appearance in Maple Lake, Kennedy was introduced as "Senator Kennedy." The slip is understandable, given the growing speculation Kennedy is gearing up for a Senate race in 2006 against first-term Democratic incumbent Mark Dayton.
Al Eisele, editor of The Hill, a Washington-based newspaper about Congress, says Kennedy stands out as a hard worker. Eisele is convinced Kennedy's ambitions lie well beyond his seat in the House.
"He's one of the brighter young congressman of both parties," says Eisele. "Clearly he has designs on higher office; I think he wants to run for the Senate."
Kennedy says he's not interested in fanning that speculation. He says he's focused on the 6th District and that he does not know what the future holds for him.
"On a plane on the way home the other day someone said to me, 'I hear the question asked me, is Kennedy running for Senate?' and this person replied, 'I don't know, but if he is, I'm for him.' And my reply to him was to say, 'I don't know if I'm running for Senate but if I am, I'm for me.'"
But before Kennedy could embark on a Senate campaign, if that's his plan, he'll first concentrate on getting re-elected next year in his relatively new congressional district.
The House of Representatives editor at the Cook Political Report, Amy Walter, says having unseated an incumbent and survived a vicious re-election campaign, Kennedy is on relatively solid ground.
"He is still known as being somewhat of a -- I don't know if it's a giant-killer, but someone who came in as an unexpected freshmen member of Congress," Walter says. "Thanks to redistricting and a good 2002 campaign, he has pretty much solidified himself in his congressional district, and he can decide what wants to do from there."
Kennedy says he's optimistic he'll have a winning message next fall. He's predicting Republicans will have a positive story to tell voters, not only about the economy, but also about national security and legislative accomplishments such as the Medicare overhaul, with its prescription drug coverage for seniors.