Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) spent time this week with Pajamas Media for a lengthy chat on the Senate, Barack Obama and “the future of the free market.” He was candid throughout and remarkably upbeat about the chances of John McCain to pull out a win.
But he did not conceal his concern that should the Democrats get to sixty votes in the U.S. Senate “then it’s over” as he bluntly put it. The “it” is nothing short of our system of free market capitalism.
Will the Democrats get to 60?
He said, “I don’t think so but I think they [the Democrats] think so.” He said that it is starting to “dawn on Americans that without 41 solid votes — which means 43 or 44 total — for a Republican firewall then it’s all over.” He means that there will be no stopping the liberal juggernaut. He points to the Employee Free Choice Act which would dispense with secret ballot union elections in lieu of authorization cards signed in the presence of union officials. He says, “Basically it says that the union can send a union representative — and these are not little people — to your work or home and intimidate people. If they get 50% to sign cards you are unionized against your will. It is the most anti-democratic thing you can think of.”
That part of the bill, however, is “not the worst of it.” He explains that the bill requires that within ninety days, if a contract is not agreed up the union can bring in a federal mediator.” Then he continues, “The government can force mandatory arbitration and the government then can set wages and terms and conditions of employment for two years.” He asks “Can you imagine how many companies would leave America?” He is blunt. Once the card check bill is passed, he says, “We’ll never get rid of it.” That is because the Republicans haven’t in recent history come close to sixty votes in the Senate which would be needed to withstand a Democratic filibuster in the future to protect Big Labor’s prized achievement.
In sum, unless the Republicans can get forty-one seats plus a few to cover defections, there will be, in Hatch’s colorful words, no way to stop the “wing-ding, bats out of the belfry things like card check.”
Senator Hatch is candid: It’s the money.
Hatch goes on to describe the enormous money advantage that Democrats enjoy, in large part because of the soft and hard money raised by Big Labor. He estimates that combined soft and hard money in local, state and federal races is a billion dollars. For example, in Gordon Smith’s Senate race in Oregon, Democrats with the help of labor unions have raised $32M. Hatch details the year long effort he has devoted to fundraising.
He emphasizes, “Even at this late date if everyone who reads blogs would go to NRSC.org and click we could raise enough to make a difference.”
What about Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to be more bipartisan if Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House?
Hatch says that to her way of thinking, “Bipartisanship means [Republicans] going along with them.” He describes his own experience over three decades in crafting legislation on health care, labor and taxes, “I’ve worked with everyone. They have to come to the center… But in each case they start on the far Left.” He says they either have to respect you, or you “have to be hard as nails.” But in the Democrats’ view, “Anything short of liberal is unacceptable.” In short, he says of Pelosi’s remark, “I will say they believe that gibberish.”
What is his take on his colleague Barack Obama and the Presidential race?
As for Obama, Hatch contends, “He has not had by any stretch of the imagination a full fledged career. He is attractive, he is charismatic and he does have a nice speaking voice,” he acknowledges. Hatch candidly says, “John McCain has irritated everyone from time to time. But we know who he is. We don’t need to roll the dice on him.” He says of Obama: “He comes from the farthest left there is. The National Journal is not a conservative publication. They found him the most liberal senator. Biden is third. I think Bernie Sanders is fourth. . . I have not seen any particular leadership from him in the Senate. I’m concerned about the most important job in the world.” He contends we simply don’t know enough about Obama and his past associations.
On the presidential race itself, Hatch is not one of the Republicans predicting defeat and ruin. He believes McCain is poised to pull a comeback à la Harry Truman.
What about judges — would Republicans block liberal appointees of an Obama administration just as Democrats did in the Bush years?
Hatch acknowledges that “we always have enough liberal Republicans” that will join with Democrats to confirm nominees from a Democratic President. He notes that it does not work the other way: “Democrats would definitely stop highly qualified conservatives. They play politics with everything.”
How do the hot Senate races look?
Hatch runs through several of the hotly contested races. He expresses confidence in Maine Senator Susan Collins’s chances and sees John Sununu “pulling even,” contending that his chances improve as McCain does better in New Hampshire. On Norm Coleman Hatch shares others amazement that Al Franken could be a viable contender, but notes that Coleman “fits very well” with Minnesota voters. He expresses concern for Elizabeth Dole, remarking that Democrats have dumped millions and millions into North Carolina and that the huge push for Obama in that state makes it a very hard race. He expresses optimism that John Kennedy, the GOP challenger in Louisiana, has “a real shot” to knock out Mary Landrieu.
His greatest praise is reserved for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell whom he dubs “one of the smartest political minds.” McConnell is in a tough fight, but Hatch expresses amazement that Kentucky voters would trade in McConnell “who has done more for Kentucky than anyone in history.” He says it would be a “catastrophe” if McConnell lost, but says “he’s going to do it.”
Again, Hatch comes back to money. There are he says, a lot of “Democratic billionaires” who are willing to fund 527’s and fund millions in ads, which Hatch says have contributed to a “wave of nastiness” and smears on Republicans. He also cautions, for example, that unless Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) reaches 50% on Election Day there will be a run off in which the Democrats will pour in millions of dollars more to secure what could then be the decisive seat in reaching the magic number of sixty. If individuals contributed “$10 or $100 we could save this firewall” he says. Otherwise, he says “It may be over for our free market system.”
What about Senator Joe Lieberman — would he cross over to the Republican side?
Hatch says of the Democrats: “They hate Joe Lieberman. They wouldn’t say that. But if his vote is necessary to keep us at 40 they will swoon all over him.” He contends that Lieberman’s “eyes have been opened an awful lot” and that he remains stalwart on national security and protection of Israel.
What does he think of the MSM and the Los Angeles Times’ refusal to release the tape showing Obama praising Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi?
Hatch is blunt on the coverage: “The media can’t be critical [of the Democrats]” He says that “Biden makes a gaffe a day — more than a gaffe a day,” but that it is Sarah Palin who gets criticized daily. He says that the mainstream media and “the liberal 527’s and the liberal blogs treat her like dirt — they smear her.” He argues that she is “highly intelligent” and is the only one with executive experience. “If she is unqualified, what do you think Obama is?” he asks.
Hatch spares no criticism of the MSM, declaring that “They don’t care. The mainstream media is anything but honest. They are one-sided, partisan. They do everything to ignore concerns we have.” He says there has been very little scrutiny of Obama and his associates Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. As for the latter, Hatch contends the media has failed to explore how Obama could attend that church for twenty years and not be aware “the man [Wright] is a racist.” He says that when the presidency is involved “The media ought to investigate everyone. Both sides.”
On Khalidi specifically, Hatch says, “What about this thing the LA Times has? Why is this so sacrosanct?”
Voters have gotten used to divided government and the ability of Republicans to trip up their Democratic opponents. But neither Hatch nor Minority Leader McConnell will have any tricks up their sleeves if their numbers dip below the low forties in the Senate.
So as focused as the country may be on the top of the ballot, Hatch’s gaze is firmly fixed on the Senate and his never-ending quest to funnel enough resources to his colleagues to save their seats. Those Senate races may be just as important as the presidential contest in determining the direction of the country.