The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Possible Pyrrhic Victories

Rich Galen

Thursday September 3, 2015


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  • Two recent developments might lead to the dreaded unintended consequences: Pyrrhic victories.

  • A Pyrrhic victory is defined by Wikipedia as a win that comes as such a high price that is tantamount to defeat.

  • Pyrrhic victory number one.

  • CNN has decided to change the rules as to which GOP candidates will be allowed into the main debate on September 16 at the Reagan Library in California.

  • In order to be on the main stage, CNN had determined that a candidate had to be among the top ten in an average of national polls conducted between July 16 and September 10.

  • Then came the Fox debate - specifically the Fox JV debate - on August 6 in which Carly Fiorina wowed everyone with her performance.

  • There have been only four polls since that debate, so an average of polls taken prior to the Fox debate meant that Fiorina would still be too far back in the pack. But, an average of the polls taken since that debate show her comfortably in the middle of the pack - in 7th place with an average of 5.8 percent.

  • Actually, as of this writing the latest of the polls - taken by PPP (a Democrat-leaning firm) shows her in fourth place with 8 percent, behind Donald Trump (29 percent), Ben Carson (15), and Jeb Bush (9).

  • So, what's the problem?

  • The problem for Fiorina may be, stepping up in class.

  • She showed herself to great effect in the Fox debate because the competition wasn't very strong. She dominated the likes of Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry in a way that she may not to be able to do when she is sharing the stage with Trump, Christie, Bush, Carson and the others.

  • I might be wrong about this, and Fiorina might be ready to compete at the higher level in which case she might well join the group known (for no good reason) as the "top tier."

  • But, if she falters, or merely holds her own, some - maybe a lot - of the good press and good polling results she received as the result of the Fox debate will vaporize.

  • Pyrrhic Victory number two - the Iran deal

  • This week retiring Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski announced she would not vote to override a Presidential Veto of a Senate vote against the Iran deal.

  • That pesky Constitution provides a requirement for a two-thirds vote in each Chamber. That is 67 in the Senate and 290 in the House - assuming everyone votes)

  • Both Chambers will have a majority voting against the Iran deal, but the President will veto the resolution of disapproval. With Mikulski's announcement the Ds now have 34 votes against an override so the deal will go through.

  • This was hailed yesterday as a victory for President Obama. Only in Washington, DC (and maybe at the Central Bank of China) can losing both houses of Congress be declared a win.

  • The Pyrrhic nature of this victory comes from the Ds who vote to uphold the veto being squarely in the political sites of the Republican campaign committees, not just in 2016 but as long as the deal is in effect: 15 years.

  • Not only that, but the White House has to pivot from convincing Democrats that this is the best deal possible, to convincing the American voting public that when Iran is caught cheating - as it surely will - it is really part of the cunning plan the President and Secretary of State John Kerry concocted.

  • The Obama Administration will own this deal for the remainder of its life span - until noon January 20, 2017. House and Senate Democrats who vote to uphold the veto will own it for as long as they remain in office.

  • If the Iranians ignore or actively defy the terms of the deal, then the President's victory will come at a very high price, indeed.

  • That is a working definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

    LAD LINK: This week Reed looks at the phenomenon of the political outsiders outperforming the traditional politicians in the Presidential race. Click HERE. Also, if you'd like to participate in a survey of Reed's Readers, Click HERE.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The full definition of a Pyrrhic victory including who Pyrrhus was; also a link to the Real Clear Politics polling page so you can track who is in and how is out (as of last night) of the next debate.

    Also a cute Mullfoto of one of my grand daughters at her soccer game last weekend.

    -- END --

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