For want of a nail, the shoe got thrown; for want of a shoe, the horse stumbled and broke its leg; for want of a horse, the rider never reached the battle with vital intelligence; for want of that intelligence, the battle was lost and for want of that much needed victory, the war was lost. Known as a didactic aphorism, it teaches a very important lesson about the impact that even the most minor actions and events can have on all of human history.
Thus, a button on an iPhone or iPad, if pressed at the wrong time or in the wrong sequence, become the nail. In this case, by pressing the wrong button Congressman Anthony Weiner inadvertently send a close-up photo of his crotch to everyone on his Twitter account. Had he immediately confessed to the offensive Tweet as personal prank gone awry and then shrugged his shoulders, the matter would have gone away quietly. Instead, he claimed that his account had been hacked and then compounded the initial lie with layer upon layer of subsequent prevarications. The deeper he dug in, the more the hole he was digging assumed the form of a political grave in which he was eventually buried after finally confessing the sordid truth of his photo fetish and resigning from the District 9 House seat he more or less inherited from uber-liberal Chuck Schumer.
But the consequences of that wrong button didn’t stop there: a special election would have to be held to fill the vacancy. The Democrats nominated David Welpin, a New York state assemblyman with two decades of political experience, confident that he would be handily re-elected in a heavily Jewish district with a three to one Democrat registration advantage that had not seen a Republican representative in almost a century.
The GOP nominated Bob Turner, a 70-year old retired cable TV executive with zero political experience in the likely presumption that Turner would lose in a landslide and therefore was politically expendible.
Imagine their surprise when they saw the news this morning:
With the outcome of his own reelection effort 14 difficult months away, President Obama suffered a sharp rebuke Tuesday when voters in New York elected a conservative Republican to represent a Democratic district that has not been in GOP hands since the 1920s.
Bob Turner, the winner, cast the election as a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy and, in the state’s Ninth Congressional District, which has a large population of Orthodox Jewish voters, the president’s position on Israel.
With 75 percent of the precincts reporting at press time, Turner had a commanding lead, with 53 percent of the vote, compared with 47 percent for Weprin.
What the hell happened here? Heads on both sides of the aisle are being quizzically scratched today as political strategists and pundits sort through the rubble of one of the most unlikely and historic electoral upsets in New York history. To be sure, Weiner’s indiscretion and the scandal that followed gave the Democrats a pretty nasty flesh wound, but not nearly deep enough to cause them to bleed out. Other factors came into play:
The New York race, for a seat representing a large portion of Queens and a slice of Brooklyn, also turned on Obama’s handling of Israel and Palestine. The district’s large contingent of Orthodox Jews opposes his proposal for Palestinian statehood drawn around 1967 borders. The U.N. General Assembly is likely to vote on the Palestinian statehood issue when it convenes in New York next week.
Turner spent the final days of his campaign blasting Obama on the economy and on his perceived lack of support for Israel. Democrats worry that the apparent drag that the president had on Weprin could be repeated and amplified nationwide during the 2012 elections.
“Make no mistake about it, the albatross around Weprin’s neck is named Obama, and Democrats who value honesty will tell you privately that the president’s 37 percent approval rating in the district is making it difficult for Weprin to win a race that in almost any other time would be a slam-dunk,” Stuart Rothenberg, an independent analyst and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, wrote Tuesday.
Obama won New York’s Ninth District in 2008 with 55 percent of the vote, less than the 67 percent Al Gore received there in 2000. But even in a down year for Democrats, Weiner coasted in 2010 to an almost 20-percentage-point victory over Turner.
Democrats rejected talk that Tuesday’s election was a referendum on Obama and noted its highly unusual circumstances, including Weiner’s resignation and the fact that the contest was held two days after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The 9/11 remembrances essentially brought the race to a halt on Sunday. Also, in a special election with a small turnout, the district’s large number of Orthodox Jews — who have drifted from Democrats since George W. Bush’s first term — played an outsize role in tilting the race toward Turner.
It also didn’t help Weprin that former mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani both endorsed Turner.
Although Democrat party hacks like Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz are already desperately spinning the impact and importance of this defeat, the writing on the wall cannot be completely erased: the loss of District 9 by the Democrat Party is a harbinger of 2012 as long as Obama and the Democrats continue the present course.