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Capitol View Commentary: Friday, November 9, 2012

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, November 9, 2012

CREATED Nov 9, 2012

CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

November 9, 2012

ELECTION POST MORTEM; INSIDE POLITICS; SUPER MAJORITIES; THE RUTHERFORD MEETING; CALLED OUT; HERO

ELECTION POST MORTEM

332-206

While I expected that President Barack Obama would win re-election last Tuesday night, I must say it was by a greater Electoral Vote majority than I thought (I was predicting about 290 votes for the President). But his "ground game' to get out his vote was better than I anticipated, as Team Obama won all the battleground states except North Carolina, and he carried every state he won in 2008 except North Carolina and Indiana. That's a remarkable achievement considering the President was playing defense throughout the race in the sense that there was never any question of turning 2008 red states blue just whether, and how many, blue states would flip to red.

It's pretty clear the key moment in the race really came some months back when the President decided to take the risk and spend a lot of money early on TV ads in the battleground states to define his likely opponent, former MA Governor Mitt Romney as a rich, out of touch venture capitalist, who could not relate to average, middle class folks. It worked, just like it did in 1996 for President Bill Clinton when he used early TV to define his opponent, Senator Bob Dole, connecting him directly to a very unpopular Republican Congress and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And so while the Romney surge (and move to the political middle) after the first debate tightened the race, the GOP candidate never closed the gap and his "47%" comments also likely lingered a bit with some voters. Being left on the sidelines during the Superstorm (and dodging questions about his earlier comments about privatizing FEMA) while the President looked presidential in responding to the storm didn't help Mr. Romney either in the final week.

I must say I had my doubts a few times in the final days of the campaign when so many major conservative commentators and pundits (George Will, Karl Rove and others) predicted not only that Romney would win (what else would they say?), but that he would win big with an Electoral Majority well into the 300s. What did these guys know that I didn't, I wondered? Nothing, it turned out. There was nothing in the national or state-by-state polls I thought (and as Nate Silver of THE NEW YORK TIMES correctly predicted) that showed Romney moving late or surging. In fact, any movement late seemed to moving with the President as his small but persistent lead in the battleground states, especially his Mid-West- Big 10 Firewall continued, while it appeared Romney was not putting the President away even in states such as Florida, Colorado, Virginia where it looked like he might break through. I pretty well decided the Republican ticket was toast in Ohio when Team Romney ran the Jeep TV and radio ads that backfired. Therefore the last minute visits and ads in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were just Hail Mary passes to try and pull a political rabbit out of the hat.

Finally, the GOP just had a very different (and incorrect) idea about who was going to vote. While turnout overall was down from 2008, it was still percentage-wise less white, less-male and maybe less-old than in the past while voting percentages for Latinos, women and young people were up (and black support stayed very strong for the President), especially in key states. So therefore, game, set, match for four more years.

INSIDE POLITICS

Looking at the Electoral Map Tuesday night, the heart of the Republican Party (outside of Florida and Virginia) was in the South and the heart of the South (at least in supporting Mitt Romney) was Tennessee where the GOP national ticket got a slightly higher percentage (59%) than in the other surrounding states around and below the Mason-Dixon line.

That dominance by Romney (and the continued strong opposition to President Obama among Tennessee voters) certainly helped state Republicans gain their expected "Super Majorities" in both houses of the new General Assembly (70 out of 99 seats in the House and 26 out of 33 seats in the Senate). It's another new low for Democrats who continue to try and figure out how and when they can begin their long journey on a comeback trail.

It would appear their revival efforts will have to be built on the few bright spots of Tuesday night, including new Democrats such as Bo Mitchell, Jason Powell and Darren Jernigan, who held or took back House seats in Davidson County even while the GOP took over a Nashville State Senate seat for the first time in living memory.

Representatives-Elect Mitchell and Jernigan are my guests on INSIDE POLITICS this weekend. We have a fascinating conversation concerning how they won their races, including a surprise from Jernigan that his last TV ad (where he proclaimed: "I may be in a wheelchair, but nobody can push me around") was not done in response to an attack ad by his opponent even if it worked out that way. Both new House members are also Metro Councilmen and both say they don't plan to finish out their terms (2015) but won't leave their districts without representation, meaning likely resignations are coming in 2014 so the seats can be filled in elections that year (there are no scheduled elections in 2013).

My other INSIDE POLITICS guests this weekend are Tennessee GOP Executive Director Adam Nickas and outgoing Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester. We go into greater depth on why the presidential race and the races in Tennessee ended up as they did, and the likelihood of gridlock now ending in Washington (one thing voters spoke loudly that they want to happen) even though the national election saw more than $6 billion spent with almost no change in the overall balance of power inside the Beltway.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. Our air times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5. We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m., Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5 over-the-air digital channel 5

SUPER MAJORITIES

With Republicans holding super majorities in both houses of the Tennessee Legislature, the GOP can do anything it wants if its members stick together. And we could get an early test of that concerning their relationship with Governor Bill Haslam this coming week (November 16).

The state faces a federal deadline about what to do in implementing national health care (i.e., setting up an insurance exchange for the uninsured to buy coverage). Should the state do it itself or let the feds do it? The Governor has indicated it might be better for the state to set it up and run it because (he told reporters including THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL 11/8) "state-run exchanges offer some tax deductions for business, and the control here at home would be useful both for insurance companies and the state in terms of setting eligibility and other tasks." But the Governor says he hasn't made a final decision and he is waiting for more information from Washington.

If he does decide the state should do the exchange it will require approval by the General Assembly and that's where things could get sticky politically. I am told the votes are just not there for a majority of the Legislature (especially among Republicans) to do anything to implement Obamacare. Many GOP lawmakers specifically ran against the President and that particular program this fall and they don't want to look like flip flops. There could be a similar fight brewing if the Governor decides to expand Medicaid (TennCare) under the national health care plan. In fact, there is already pending legislation in the Senate to prohibit the Governor from expanding Medicaid/TennCare even though the feds claim they will cover all the costs for the first several years.

THE RUTHERFORD MEETING

While it turns out 4th District Congressman Dr. Scott DesJarlais rather easily won re-election Tuesday night, the problems and sex scandals resulting from his 12-year old divorce case may not be over. First, many more of the documents involved in the case have been ordered released by the courts. That didn't happen before the election, but they're coming. What new revelations might emerge remain to be seen and it's possible somehow over the next two years the Congressman could find a way to explain himself and the controversy (including the pending professional charges against him for having sex with patients) might fade away.

But the subject of a pending meeting in Rutherford County would raise some doubts about this matter going away. Two potential candidates to run against Dr. DesJarlais, prominent pharmacist Shane Reeves and State Senator Bill Ketron reportedly will meet soon to decide which one will oppose the Congressman for re-election in August, 2014. With Rutherford County making up close to 40% of the vote in the district, one or the other could be a major challenger. But not if both run, because that would split the vote against the incumbent.

 

CALLED OUT

I can continue to report progress in the recovery from my stroke.

First, I spent most of Tuesday night on the air at NEWSCHANNEL5 covering the election. This was a goal I set from the beginning while I was still in the hospital. I hoped to be back for the August primary. When that proved too ambitious except for a brief telephone call-in, I was determined to be ready for November and I was.

I felt good and I felt strong throughout the evening, with some coffee and a little natural Election-Night adrenaline to keep me going. We got done earlier than expected with the presidential race called during the 10 PM newscast and the local races already determined. So I got home and into bed before midnight, leaving me refreshed and ready to do the MORNING LINE show on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS on Wednesday morning.

I have also had some other opportunities to test my endurance lately, with good results. I spent all day with Leadership Nashville last Thursday (November 1), including interviewing Governor Bill Haslam for the class. Leadership Nashville can be a grinding day with lots of presentations and panel discussions which has often left me a little tired in the past. This time, I made it through fine and was only a little fatigued when I got home.

Last weekend, it was going to the Titans game. We won't talk about how bad the game (vs. Chicago Bears) was. But I was happy to get the exercise to walk from where we parked our car at the downtown library, then going all the way across the river to the far side of LP Field and back after the game (actually, we left at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the game was so far out of hand). I don't know exactly how far we walked but it was probably a couple of miles total. That's not bad, even though I was fairly winded when I got back to the car after the game, so I know I have a lot more walking work to do to increase my endurance further.

In that regard, one of my readers (no names again) has rightly called me out about how I am describing my efforts regarding exercise. She says: "Here's something I noticed about your language re: exercise. "Hope", "try."

"This is not the language of strong intention….I've learned that how we speak and think has a direct influence on what we do. Yoda said, "There is no try. Do or do not." "I hope I can stick to it is very different language from, "I intend to do this for the rest of my life."

"When I read what you write about food and exercise I see a man who can imagine himself disappointing himself instead of a determined warrior who will do whatever it takes to protect his life and health. I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO RERUN THE EPISODE OF THE NOLAN'S CALLED PAT HAS A STROKE. So I invite you to use powerful language to convey your intention to FIGHT TO DEFEND MY FRIEND PAT. You're all he's got. Give him mighty words.

Well said and words to live by (and write by each week from now on). My friend, who says, "I too hate exercise and hate competition" also encourages me to buy a Fitbit, "a wearable device that measures the number of steps you take, the number of flights of stairs you climb, the mileage you cover, the calories you burn." And there are other devices she has to record her weight and percentage of body fat and you can sync all this with your computer.

She now logs at least 10,000 steps a day minimum and sometimes she will double that number when walking on the beach. She says this actually can spur your "competitive juices"…"you'll be amazed at how many times you'll find yourself checking during the day, competing with your previous day's output." Not bad for someone who admits she used to "hate competition," eh?

It sure has my interest up especially since I will be making walking part of my exercise routine both at the Y and on the Greenway in the weeks to come.

HERO

My dad would be ready to turn 87 years old (on December 14) if he was still with us.

He died 31 years ago in August, 1981.

But today (Friday), Patrick Joseph (Joe) Nolan, Jr., finally graduated from high school.

He was a part of several former Father Ryan High School (FRHS) students who are receiving honorary degrees from the Catholic school. It is part of the HEROES PROJECT which FRHS has instituted to honor those who dropped their studies to defend their country during times of war in the past.

My Dad was an intelligent man with a voracious love of reading (which I inherited). But, from what I've been told he wasn't big on school. So after dropping out (he would have been in the Class of 1944) and spending a few months working as a railroad laborer, he talked my grandparents into giving their permission for him to enlist in the Navy in July, 1943. He was just 17 years old.

After finally concluding he'd rather fight the Japanese than hit the books or work (until he was drafted), he spent three years in the service aboard a Liberty Ship, the U.S.S. Rutilicus. He saw action in several major operations in the Pacific theatre including the Majuro Atoll in Marshall Islands, Tinian, the Marianas Island, the liberation of the Philippines and Okinawa. He won two Bronze Stars during those engagements and he was even on board when his vessel was among the first American ships to dock in the harbor at Nagasaki, Japan not long after one of the atomic bombs was dropped there in 1945.

But like the rest of the Greatest Generation, my Dad never talked much about that. I learned most of what I know about his military service by working through Congressman Jim Cooper's office. My Father would be so honored to receive this degree from Father Ryan. He deeply loved the school, and passed on that devotion by carrying his kids to Friday night football games to root the team (and his high school classmate long-time, legendary Ryan Coach Louis Catignani) on to victory.

But more than anything else, he was very proud that all three of his sons graduated from Father Ryan. Growing up, it was a given that we'd go to FRHS and that (unlike our father) we would graduate from that school. Now, he'd be even more proud of the grandsons and granddaughters who've also gotten their high school diplomas being part of the Irish, with great-grandchildren hopefully on the way to the campus too one day.

But he'd probably also be a little embarrassed about all the fuzz with this honorary degree. Again, like all those of the Greatest Generation, he just saw what he did as doing his duty and keeping our nation safe. I am so glad he is being recognized now because he passed away at such a young age (55), he missed the increased recognition and respect given to his Great Depression/World War II generation which came from the passage of years and Tom Brokaw's book.

It's going to be a very special Veteran's Day Holiday for my family this year. Happy Graduation, Dad!