Saturday, November 01, 2003

Clark Pulls Ahead In South Carolina Poll

Wesley Clark has pulled ahead among likely voters in the SC Democratic primary, leading the other Carolina's John Edwards 17-to-10%. This is awful news for the Edwards campaign, who had been looking to South Carolina as being their launching pad after probable losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, aside from a one-quarter fundraising lead early on, South Carolina had given Edwards his only lead of the primary season.

Switching gears, this is fantastic news for the Clark campaign. Despite Clark's fabulous entry into the race, things had not been going too well for the campaign. Clark had been subject to more scrutiny than most at such an early point in his candidacy but that was to be expected with a late start. He made a number of contradictory statements on Iraq and some domestic policies, seemingly thinking out loud at times during interviews. More recently, his comments about the Bush administration's culpability for 9/11 raised eyebrows among the media.

This may be the bit of good news that gives the Clark campaign some traction to regain lost momentum. And it may also be the bit of bad news that triggers some soul-searching and rethinking among the Edwards campaign. On Wednesday, Terry Neal pointed out in his Talking Points column at that the campaign is bleeding money. But with Edwards already announcing that he will not be seeking reelection to his Senate seat in 2004, one wonders if he has any choice but to stay in and fight to the end. Either way, it's a pretty safe bet that (if it isn't him) he'll find himself on the eventual VP shortlist... which may be what he's banking on.

posted by Scott | 11/01/2003 | |

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Dean To Win SEIU Endorsement

Question: Would an SEIU endorsement of Dean be a win for Dean or a loss for Gephardt?

Tough one, isn't it?

I should say that the endorsement isn't totally in the bag yet, with union head Andrew Stern letting on that the SEIU will "either endorse [Dean] or endorse no one" when it meets next week. However, in the same statement, Stern said that it is "clear that the passion of the members lies with Governor Dean."

MSNBC points out that an anonymous Democratic campaign staffer called the SEIU nod "Dick Gephardt's endorsement to lose." Tough talk, but also probably true. One wonders what the fallout will be in Iowa. And if the fallout is great enough, what the impact will be on the Gephardt campaign.

We can only watch and wait...

posted by Scott | 10/30/2003 | |

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Sharpton v. Dean

Ah, the Al Sharpton I know and love.

Back in March, I called Sharpton an asshole. Before any of you who support Reverend Al get all mad and start sending me e-mails, go back and read the posting. Basically, having spent most of my life in the New York metro area, that's how I know Al Sharpton. He's played spoiler one too many times for many of us local Dems to stomach. More recently, I've begun to temper my views on Sharpton. After the second debate, I praised Sharpton's rhetorical style and energy as being great assets to the Democratic Party.

I hate to say it, but I may have been wrong about "the new Al."

Yesterday, the Sharpton campaign fired off a memo that sounded like it could have come from the DLC's left-wing alter ego. "Howard Dean's opposition to affirmative action, his current support for the death penalty and historic support of the NRA's agenda amounts to an anti-black agenda that will not sell in communities of color in this country... Any so-called African American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record is mortgaging the future of our struggle for civil rights and social justice."

ABC's The Note quotes someone -- I still can't figure out who -- as saying "Dean's campaign is not worried about Sharpton's being a political threat." Well, Trippi, wake up and smell the NYC. It's a city famously full of Democrats that keeps electing Republican mayors. Ever wonder why that is? Check the record. You might be surprised to find Al Sharpton's fingerprints all over the place.

Al Sharpton hasn't been known to play by the rules. I was foolish to expect him to start now. Beware, Democrats. This is one problem that can't be ignored too long.

posted by Scott | 10/29/2003 | |

Wes Clark Lays Out Health Plan

Borrowing heavily from a number of heath care proposals already floating in the ether, Wes Clark has laid out the health care portion of his foreign policy plan.

The most familiar part of Clark's plan is the requirement that all children 22 and under be insured. (John Edwards has proposed a plan requiring the same of all children 21 and under.) This requirement would be policed through institutions like public schools and, if children are not insured, they would be automatically enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIPs if they come from families with incomes up to 150% of the poverty level. For children without coverage from families earning up to $90,000/year, federal tax credits would kick in. Parents with children covered by parents' employers' plans would received a smaller tax credit.

Under Clark's plan, low-income adults would also be moved into Medicaid or CHIPs. The extra cost to those state-administered programs (both for children and adults) would be covered by the federal government. Adults earning slightly more (up to $25,000) would be eligible for tax credits. Beyond that, they would be allowed to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, another proposal that should strike a chord of familiarity.

There are two very interesting aspects of Clark's plan that deserve some scrutiny. One is the independent commission that would be appointed to study the value of certain services and to promote preventive treatments. The Army, no doubt an organization whose bureaucracy Clark is familiar with, has the system similar. Preventive care, as any doctor can tell you, is invaluable in lowering health costs down the line. The second is the fact that the plan does not begin to go into effect until 2006 and even then, it doesn't go into effect fully until 2008. So the cost of Clark's plan may not be quite as low as it first seems.

All of the analysis of Clark's plan has it coming in dead-center in terms of cost. This has to make one wonder if the Clark campaign's policy crew didn't take a look at the current field, with the plethora of plans, and put together a health care proposal that would seem, as Goldilocks might say, "just right" to voters.

posted by Scott | 10/29/2003 | |

Great Timing For The Clark Campaign

According to The Washington Post, in testimony to the Senate yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage indicated that Iran's cooperation in going after al Qaeda "would be an important step" in improving relations, though "limited discussions" will take place between Iran and the US either way.

The same day, according to The New York Post Wesley Clark said that lumping Iran, Iraq, and North Korea together as "The Axis of Evil" was "the single worst formulation in the last half-century of American foreign policy."

Sounds as if Bush's State Department agrees...

posted by Scott | 10/29/2003 | |

Why It's A Good Thing Zell Miller Is Not Running For Reelection

For Pete's sake, Zell... According to The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes, everyone's favorite Republican-in-the-Democratic-Caucus-Miller is endorsing Bush-Cheney 2004.

I cannot say I am at all surprised. I can say, however, that I'm really happy Miller will not be running for reelection to his Senate seat as a Democrat. Or at all, for that matter.

posted by Scott | 10/29/2003 | |
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