By Russell Sadler
The U.S. Presidential election in 2008 is not the only race off to an early start. In Oregon, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’ reelection race in 2008 is also heating up early.
Smith lit the fuse himself with his Senate floor speech last December.
“I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore.”
That speech brought the predictable cries of “political expediency” from Democrats and “betrayal” from Republicans, while Oregon’s large group of crossover voters looked on with curiosity.
Smith’s recent vote to support a Republican filibuster preventing a Senate debate on the Iraq war cranked the heat up higher.
Democratic political operative Steve Novick assails Smith at every opportunity at BlueOregon.com and and has publicly discussed his own prospective candidacy for Smith’s seat if no other Democrat runs.
Republican blogger Dean Barnett at TownHall.com calls for a loyal Republican to take Smith on in the Oregon primary. Fred Barnes, a member of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders at the pro-war Weekly Standard and voluble entertainer on Fox, selected Smith as his “Turncoat of the Year.”
These self-styled conservatives have been drinking great draughts from the Kool-Aid tankard since their repudiation at the polls last November. They have convinced themselves the reason for their party’s ouster was that their candidates weren’t conservative enough. They do not seem to realize they were ousted because despite all their talk, their party failed to deliver on anything but their tax cuts. The wealthy, it appears, are too narrow a base to win elections indefinitely.
It is hard to imagine a Oregon Republican running to the right of Smith who still would have the appeal to win the Democratic and crossover voters any candidate needs to win a statewide race. The Republicans’ one well-known candidate, Ron Saxton, was trounced by Gov. Ted Kulongoski in what was supposed to be a close race.
I am told that Steve Novick is a well-known political operative with many friends in the Democratic Party. But no serious Democrat can believe that a candidate with no experience holding public office could win a race for the U.S. Senate from this state. Yet no Oregon Democrat of stature has publicly expressed interest in running.
Still, I think a Democrat capable of unseating Smith is serious about running. I suspect Oregon Democrats will choose Sen. Ben Westlund, D-Bend, to run against Smith in November, 2008.
Wisely, I think, Westlund has not said anything publicly. He’s got his nose to the grindstone doing his job as a state senator for the duration of the legislative session.
Westlund’s email newsletter indicates he is supporting things voters say they want done -- reforming health care, stabilizing Oregon school finance, rebalancing Oregon’s wildly unbalanced tax system and doing what limited things government can do to promote economic development and create jobs.
What you do not hear about Westlund is almost as significant as what you do hear. You do not hear Oregon Democrats calling Westlund a political opportunist. You do not hear Democrats expressing mistrust of Westlund because he changed parties.
Perhaps Oregon Democrats are grateful to Westlund for terminating his independent candidacy for governor when polls showed he could not win, but might be a spoiler. Westlund’s withdrawal allowed Kulongoski to trounce Saxton.
Perhaps Westlund is welcomed because no other Democrats want to risk their seats by running against Smith now that they are back in the majority again.
Perhaps Oregon Democrats recognize they are within striking distance of holding both U.S. Senate seats for the first time since Wayne Morse and Richard Neuberger held them in the 1950s.
In Salem, people who cover the legislature daily tell me Westlund is advancing his agenda -- which mirrors much of the Democrats’ agenda -- because he is working with members of both parties. That skill attracts voters.
The session is a long way from over and we will not know how effective Westlund will be until then. But I have a well-honed hunch that in November, 2008, Ben Westlund will give Oregon voters a reason to return Gordon Smith to his beloved golf courses, a victim of Republican excesses that drove the Republicans out of power, and an intraparty bloodletting that will damage the Republican’s prospects for decades.
EDITOR'S NOTE: According to today's Washington Post online Senator Smith has now joined seven GOP colleagues calling for a vote on the war, reversing their earlier support of a filibuster of the Democrats non-binding resolution. So the plot thickens. Senator Smith seems to be all over the place on the war issue saying the administration's policy is "absurd" perhaps even "criminal" but refusing to support a phased withdrawal. First he's for a filibuster, but is now ready for a vote. Talk about Senator Flip Flop!
Ben Westlund is plenty busy right now pushing, along with John Kitzhaber, the cause for an Oregon version of universal health care. But both are clear that they intend this model to be taken on the road to DC. What better way to go national than by running for the US Senate seat. So it might be Ben or Kitz who run against Smith. Keep watching. Next to the war, health care is the biggest issue on voter's minds right now. '08 is lining up nicely as a political junky's dream!
By Russell Sadler
RAD: Syndicated columnist for the Washington Post David S. Broder, the dean of the inside the beltway press corps, in an article Health Coverage's Momentum on Sunday, February 4, 2007 opined that health care reform is on the way in the USA.
DB: Piece by piece, the stage is being set for the long-overdue effort to rebuild America's creaky health-care system into one that can meet the needs of the 21st century. It probably won't happen until 2009, but the outlines of the big change are starting to become clear.
RAD: The problem is that we don't have a single health care system in the USA, we have a mélange of private health care programs dominated by employer based insurance coverage and then public plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and a Veterans system targeted to help seniors, the low income, children and vets.
DB: As is always the case, the driving force is coming from the people. More and more families are experiencing the terror of living without health insurance -- about 47 million uninsured at last count. And additional millions are facing rising premiums and co-payments that strain family budgets.
RAD: That's only the tip of the health care iceberg or fiasco. There are another 90 million US citizens who at any one time during the year who have NO health insurance because they are between jobs, moving to a new place or work for an employer who offers no health care insurance.
DB: As the costs rise, more and more employers are bailing out of providing health coverage, and the pressure for help from government is rising. With Congress wary of systemic reform after the collapse of the Clintons' initiative in 1994, states are being forced to improvise their own solutions.
RAD: In a global marketplace, where most nations we compete with like Canada and the Euros, have government subsidized health care US corporations are at a disadvantage to compete globally, albeit American car companies in part are to blame for brain dead marketing and design issues.
DB: Last year, Massachusetts, with Republican Gov. Mitt Romney and the Democratic legislature collaborating, devised a plan to provide coverage for all its residents. Now, the first cost estimates have come in, and monthly premiums are projected to be almost twice as expensive as Romney predicted. It's not clear whether the plan can go forward.
RAD: As states like Oregon look to do health care reform first focusing on children and then moving to universal coverage, the impending Massachusetts 'plan' meltdown should be a cautionary tale about what not to do. There is no free lunch here. And Hillary Clinton's ill-fated managed competition plan in '92 would likely have seen the same problem.
DB: Meantime, California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has offered his own universal coverage proposal-- based on the Massachusetts model -- to tackle the much larger challenge of his state's millions of uninsured. The Democratic-controlled Legislature is studying it, and its fate is uncertain.
RAD: As a state which has the world's fifth largest economy, California might be able to bring major health care reform off. But not if it copies the Mitt Romney plan. Requiring everyone to have health care does not make it happen any more than requiring folks to buy car insurance!
As we found in Oregon under our once heralded Oregon Plan in '91 (OHP), the pent up demand was much higher than was ever anticipated and in a state reliant on the income tax, when bad times comes the system crashes.
The Oregon plan was a rationing system. As long as there is no permanent funding source for health care for the 47 million without it, the 90 million who drop out or in Oregon the 600,000 who were eligible but weren't allowed into OHP that's what you will get a 'rationing' system.
DB: Both the Massachusetts and California plans step away from the 65-year-old pattern of tying health insurance to the place of employment, a historical oddity now visibly failing in this far more mobile society. Instead, these plans require every individual to purchase health insurance, with subsidies as needed to be financed by government, business and, in Schwarzenegger's plan, hospitals and doctors.
RAD: But again, what happens when either those who can afford to pay for their own health care (i.e. the young) chose not to do so? Or for those who can't afford it in the first place? Who picks up the tab? The answer in every democracy in the world except the USA is that the first responder is government!
DB: A major barrier to all such schemes is the feature of the federal tax code that subsidizes job-based health insurance by making its cost deductible to the business and tax-free to the employee. As C. Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute testified to Congress last week, this represents a $200 billion-a-year subsidy, with most of the benefits going to the well-to-do -- a sum that could be much better spent on helping the uninsured.
RAD: I'm not sure whom Professor Seurele is referring as the "well-to-do". My employers over a 37 plus year academic career paid for 'my' coverage while I added my spouse and children and paid for it, thank you very much!
Earning a middle class salary supplemented by a spouse's salary (minus benefits) does not put one into the class of the "well-to-do". Perhaps it does for Mr. Broder or Seurele who are among the elite of their profession. Without this benefit most middle class Americans would be impoverished!
Now if the argument is to move that $200 billion per year over into a single payer system, I'm for it. But it will take much more than that amount of money to cover all Americans with the kind of health care members of Congress get thanks to the American taxpayer!
DB: President Bush has proposed a partial remedy for that problem, substituting a flat deduction for the value of every health insurance policy costing the employer and worker up to $7,500 a person. He would use the savings to help lower-income workers buy policies.
RAD: All this does is to rob Peter to pay Paul. This is a tax scheme to soak the middle class to pay for the poor. Any savings would never cover the 47 to 90 million target audience for health care. The Bush plan is a joke and Broder should be smart enough to see through it.
DB: Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, joined many Democrats in saying that Bush's proposal can be improved by using tax credits, rather than deductions, to distribute the benefits.
RAD: Tax credits might help but as they say - show me the money! Tax credit can only supplement a general health care fund paid by the American taxpayer - both individuals and corporations. There is no easy or painless solution here. That's the problem in DC insider thinking, they are always looking for the easy way out.
DB: But the door has been opened by the president to a negotiation that could lead to a conversion to individual insurance, along with a guarantee of universal coverage. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has written and vetted a plan for doing just that, told me last week that his conversations with some Republican colleagues convinced him that "there may be a window this year" for moving such a bill.
RAD: Again, the concept of individuals in the ranks of the 47 or 90 million buying their own health care insurance is a damn hoax. Period! And the guarantee of universal coverage under such a scheme is a fraud. Ron Wyden knows better, he saw John Kitzhaber's OHP fail precisely because there was no fiscal floor under it except the cost cutting rationing scheme which destroyed it.
DB: Chances are, however, that this session, Congress will simply renew and expand the existing program that provides health insurance for children. There is bipartisan support for that measure, and one of the newly formed coalitions of business, labor, consumer and provider groups has called for that as a first step toward covering everyone.
RAD: Yes health insurance for kids is all the rage. Why, because from an accountant's point of view, over the long run is costs out. But kids don't live in the long run, they and their families live in the NOW. When your kid gets sick tonight and you have no family physician where are going to take your sick child - the local ER room - the most expensive part of our gerry rigged health care SYSTEMS. Reality seldom conforms to the bean counter's theory. Look at Oregon's experience.
DB: The emergence of these coalitions -- at least two of them are active -- is one more sign of the growing momentum for systemic reform.
Last October, health-care experts Drew Altman and Robert Blendon wrote in the journal Health Affairs that "the presidential candidates' level of attention will be decisive to where health ranks on the national agenda going into the 2008 election and the 2009 Congress. If they do play a leadership role on health, the media will follow, and the agenda-setting power of a debate driven from the top will meet the public's concern rising up from the bottom like two weather fronts colliding."
RAD: Broder et al are right on. But on the record only two candidates on either side have attempted health care reform - Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. What's their record - can you spell FAILURE? Beware of presidential candidates promising easy solutions in '08 on this issue. There are none.
DB: Exactly that is happening. As he seeks the GOP nomination, Romney is touting his plan for universal coverage, and last month Democratic Sen. Barack Obama committed to the same goal -- without saying how to get there. On her first trip to Iowa, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton showed her mastery of the subject, explaining what had gone wrong in 1994 and the lessons learned.
RAD: Beware of pols showing "mastery" of this issue. They speak with forked tongues just like Dubya, Cheney and Powell who talked of WMDs. Unless someone out there is willing to tell the truth like Dennis Kucinnich don't believe a word of it.
DB: The bar has been raised to the point that any presidential candidate in either party without a plan for universal coverage may be seen as falling short. And that in turn could make 2009 the long-awaited breakthrough year.
RAD: We had the chances of breakthrough years on health care reform in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 90s. It didn't happen because 1) FDR was politically unwilling to risk the "S" word - "socialism"; 2) Truman got nailed in '48 when he proposed national health care reform; from then on we've seen only targeted health care reform.
In '92 the Clintons had their chance. Bill advanced it too early in his term, Newt Gingrich forced the GOP to stop it at all costs and Hillary blew it by creating an impossibly complex managed competition scheme which played right into the hands of the health care industrial complex (big pharmacy, big hospitals and big insurance).
When listening to the candidates on the '09 campaign trail keep in mind tha any health care reform plan should embrace the following principles:
• Universality - all must be covered
• Comprehensive - all necessary care must be covered
• Accessible - any plan(s) must have low co-payments/deductibles
• Portable - coverage goes with the consumer, not the job
• Accountable - administration is transparent
• Choice - consumers should be able to select their own family physician and have a choice of specialists
• Quality - everyone should have access to the same basic set of services regardless of income
• Wellness - people should be encouraged to adopt safe life styles, good diets and get exercise
• Best practices - prevent hospital acquired infections
Any health care plan should demonstrate how it will contain the rising costs of drugs, ERs and hospitals. It will require a system which caps fees across the board - for meds as well as for doctors. The current system does this to some degree already but we will have to learn from our friends in Canada et al how to do it better!
Finally, how will a plan close the gaps of the current systems that deny the low-income access to health care or leave them with the poorest options? How will it address the pent up demand (need) for care among the working poor, minorities and those who have no regular health care? And how will it deal with a growing elderly population who is living longer. The marketplace cannot get us to the Promised Land. Government must be a part of, if not the entire solution, not the problem.
Health care should not be merely a privilege of those who work or those who are "lucky" enough to be in a targeted group for government sponsored health care. It should be a universal right - part of our social contract. Health care is not simply a 'service' for those who can pay, it's a right embedded in the penumbra Jefferson's promise "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Slick Willie said it well in '93 - too bad Hillary wasn't paying attention! Any reform should have these elements: security, simplicity, savings, choice, quality and responsibility. Now when the Congress and presidential candidates quit playing politics with this issue - we might have another chance in '09.
What Broder et al are talking about is working the system, more incrementalism - the politics of muddling through. All this has gotten us is a health care system(s) riddled with health care disparities between the affluent and struggling middle class and/or working poor, between urban and rural America and between racial groups.
We don't need more tinkering; we need outside the box thinking!
PS: Just for you Hillary fans: Professor Theodore R. Marmor, one of the nation's experts on health care in his book Understanding Health Care Reform (1994), in Chapter 10 co-authored with Tom Hamburger (then Washington Bureau Chief for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) - "The Missing Alternative: How Washington Elites Pushed Single-Payer Reform plans off the Agenda" says the following (p.161): "...Hillary had heard it all before. How, she asked [David] Himmelstein [Harvard Medical School] do you defeat the multibillion-dollar insurance industry? "With presidential leadership and polls showing that 70% of Americans favor [the features of] a single-payer system, " Himmelstein recalls telling Mrs. Clinton. The First Lady replied, "Tell me something interesting, David." Marmor et al - "...So by February ['93], fewer than six weeks into the Clinton presidency the White House had made its key policy decision: before the Health Care Task Force wrote a single page of its 22-volume report to the President, the single--payer idea was written off and "managed competititon" was in..."
RAD: Beware of the Iron Lady of the incrementalists.
Floyd J. McKay / Guest columnist
We owe it to our children to ramp up global-warming fight. We are stewards of our children's future, and it's damn well time that we gave them a future that is not irreparably damaged by our addiction to carbon dioxide.
Once again, the world's leading scientific experts on climate change have issued a warning that time is running out. In 2001, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said science is "66 to 90 percent sure" that greenhouse gases are driving climate change that will be catastrophic unless nations take action.
The IPCC on Friday issued an update, and its confidence level is now 90 percent, which in scientific circles is "very high confidence." Science is constantly evolving — there is no 100-percent certainty so long as research continues.
Can we stop quibbling about this overwhelming consensus of the world's best scientific brains and move to Step Two: doing something about it?
The recent election helped, but the obstinacy of President Bush means Congress must produce big majorities — perhaps veto-proof — to bring this nation into line with the rest of the developed world.
Major Republican leaders in Congress and elsewhere support action, but they must overcome some serious congressional roadblocks. Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who infamously called global warming a "hoax," lost his Energy Committee chairmanship with Democratic control, but threatens to filibuster global-warming bills.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying an end run around House Energy Committee Chairman John Dingell, a made-in-Detroit hardliner. Pelosi's special committee on global warming may propose automobile rules Dingell has killed in the past. But a lot of Democrats campaigned on this issue; Dingell's base has been weakened.
But as with Iraq, much of the burden of pounding common sense into the White House falls to sensible Republicans. Fortunately, two of the most visible, Sen. John McCain and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, have taken leading roles in opposing greenhouse gases.
California is everyone's love-hate state — Americans move there in droves, yet we make fun of its culture and try to avoid "Californicating" our once-pristine lands.
But California leads against global warming, and give Schwarzenegger credit: The Gubernator has proved to be more than a set of muscles.
Unbelievably, some of California's major efforts have been opposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which under previous presidents of both parties was actually a force for the environment. California has adopted cap-and-trade rules for industry, increased fuel standards for cars, invested in solar power and changed power-company incentives from sales to conservation.
As a result, electricity consumption per person in California is well below the national average, and has remained stable, while it is increasing rapidly in other states, particularly the "red" states of the South and Midwest.
Yet, even in hard-core Bush country, action is taking place. Midwestern farmers benefit from ethanol (as do Eastern Washington farmers), and wind power is ramping up in wide-open spaces. There is even hope that Southwest states will wake up to the solar energy that attracts so many "snowbirds" and trap it rather than build more coal-fired power plants to heat their swimming pools.
Major industries increasingly support federal controls. Firms such as DuPont, General Electric and Alcoa, more than the rest of us, realize that volunteerism — the Bush mantra — simply means a free ride and competitive advantage for bad behavior. They also understand that state-by-state regulations drive up their costs and confuse their customers.
Even elements of Bush's "base" — evangelicals — are deserting him; the Evangelical Climate Initiative urges Bush to provide world leadership. Bush's reaction to IPCC was to reject mandatory greenhouse-gas controls, leaving solutions in the tender hands of Exxon and friends.
The denial of global-warming science that still exists here is not a factor among our closest European allies. I was in Britain last fall when the three major parties held annual conventions, in which they competed to be the "greenest," particularly on global warming. A government report in October "demolished the last remaining argument for inaction in the face of climate change," proclaimed Prime Minister Tony Blair. Al Gore was treated as a hero in London and Edinburgh, his movie universally praised.
Globalization, driven by American corporations, is producing more greenhouse gases in the developing world. Middle-class Chinese and Indians will not continue to ride bicycles while we snort gas in our SUVs. Cheap imports carry an environmental price.
We cannot wait until 2009 and installation of a president who places sound science above ignorant instincts. The rest of us know better and we must demand action from our politicians. We owe it to future generations.
Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University, is a regular contributor to the Seattle Times editorial pages.
Editor's Note: RAD concurs with FM that it's time we quite denying that global warming exists. But the reliance on ethanol or biodiesel, all the current rage, is a false hope. As long as farmers use petroleum based fertilizers to raise their crops we are still being dependent on fossil fuels and global warming will continue apace. Also, the processing of ethanol and biofuels depends in high electricity usage - so where's the savings for the environment, let alone our ending our dependency on Middle East oil? Oregon farmers who are moving to get into the ethanol and bio-diesel business are buying corn from the midwest. The production of corn by heavy reliance on fertilizers does not solve the problem it only transfers it from suburban cars to the farm. Such reliance also makes us even more dependent on corporate, not family farms. What is needed is for farmers to move back to less intensive farming, rotating crops and using organic farming techniques as much as possible. And more importantly, we need to force American auto companies to quit building gass guzzling cars, SUVs and trucks. In that regard, consumers can put a big marker down by refusing to buy cars/trucks which are not fuel efficient and/or not hybrids. The biggest brain dead factor is the consumer... Drive around the Portland metro area, in "clean and green" Oregon and you see the problem - it's US not just some evil car or oil corporation! As long as people buy SUVs it's not just Dubya who is in denial!
Don't count on it, but it appears that the Demo and GOP leadership in Salem are coming up with a plan for a rainy day fund of almost a billion dollars. However, no such consensus has emerged on how to fund the Governor's children's health care initiative, money for more state troopers let alone the more ambitious health care agenda sought by former Governor Kitzhaber and State Senator Ben Westlund.
Now what are our fearless leaders in Salem going to do to meet current needs not only in health care, but also for schools, higher education and human resources? So far the tax schemes that both the Ds and Rs have come up with have so many loopholes in them that businesses and corporations in Oregon are being held harmless from any major tax increases. Ironically the GOP plan would tax business more than the Demo plan. But all the extra money raised goes into the rainy day fund not current spending.
Why should business entities in Oregon which benefit directly from taxpayer funding of highways, airports, waterways and schools be held harmless from the level of taxes paid by individual Oregonians on their income taxes? Yes, I know the argument is that business creates jobs - so give them a tax break. As long as business depends on the indirect subsidies (i.e. tax breaks) of getting our kids ready for the workplace, research done by our college system (public and private) and by taxpayer financed infrastructure why should they get a "freer" ride than the average middle income taxpayer?
Besides, big and small businesses in Oregon have been subsidized by property tax windfalls since the passage of Measure 5 in '91 and then Measures 47 and 50 in the mid '90s thanks to the handy work of Don McIntire and Bill Sizemore those paragons of the taxpayer's wallet. Finally, why is nobody talking about ending the personal kicker which would release over 1 billion into the general fund? Having a rainy day fund makes sense, but not at the expense of the most needy and vulnerable among us.
Many from Oregon's faith community will be in Salem Monday to remind our legislators about these human needs. On Tuesday those connected with the Housing Alliance will be knocking on legislators doors. It's about time our legislators paid attention to the 'other' Oregon - the one which does not fill their campaign warchests with mega bucks and/or pay for vacation trips to Maui or Las Vegas.
RAD: A careful reading of Charlie Cook's Off to the Races column two weeks ago shows that Barack Obama has traction with more voters than one might think. Clearly Obama is not simply as Jesse Jackson was in '88 the "Black" candidate for president.
Of course Senator Joe Biden's hoof in mouth problem (and "Kerry" moment) the other day helped Obama a lot while destroying any chance Biden had for the brass ring. Yes, Barack is mainstream, articulate and Black.
Obama has what political pros call cross over appeal - to white and Black voters. While he's Black, many don't see him through a racial prism. That's how you get elected US Senator from Illinois.
Hillary's joke about "evil men" was almost a "Kerry" moment for her. Her handlers should worry about such unscripted moments or lame attempts at humor. Ms. Manners didn't come off as genuine, she just reminded us of her own man who "done her bad."
CC: As Cook says "…early polling drives fundraising, the recruitment of operatives and volunteers and news coverage. So while they shouldn't be that important" early polls "…are [important] because people believe they are important" especially rich people.
According to Cook, "…One somewhat useful approach is to ask voters about the better known candidates in terms of enthusiasm, comfort level and acceptability…"
"In a Cook Political Report/RT Strategies poll conducted [two weeks ago] 872 registered voters were asked about Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.; former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.; and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both Republicans."
RAD: Now that Biden has done a "Kerry" future polls will drop him like a rock. Who is Sam Brownback? Does anyone outside of Colorado or the Christian Right really care? The rest of the field are contenders until they too have a "Kerry/Biden" moment!
CC: "For each, respondents were asked how comfortable they would be supporting the candidate. Among all voters, given the poll's 3.3 percent error margin, there was a knot of candidates near the top. Sixteen percent said they would "enthusiastically" support Clinton, 13 percent said Obama, 12 percent said McCain and 10 percent chose Edwards and Giuliani. Romney, Brownback and Biden trailed in the low single digits."
RAD: As the newbie in national politics for Obama to be virtually even with Clinton and Edwards is remarkable. Edwards has plenty of name familiarity having run in '04 and been a VP nominee. And we all know about Hillary. But what's Obama's appeal?
CC: "RT Strategies' Thom Riehle, who conducted the survey, said it was remarkable how little enthusiasm there seemed to be for the Republican candidates. McCain, Giuliani and Romney combined for 25 percent while the top three Democrats -- Clinton, Obama and Edwards -- had 39 percent."
RAD: No doubt some of this is a spillover effect from the '06 campaign where the voters gave the GOP a drubbing. It's also probably also due to McCain's flip-flopping as a moderate who is now courting the Christian Right voters as well as his support for the 'surge.' Guiliani and Romney right now are regional candidates.
CC: "It might just be that Republicans aren't terribly enthusiastic about anything right now, though that can be expected to change."
"Combining enthusiastic and comfortable categories, the poll found McCain with 42 percent among all respondents, Giuliani with 39 percent, Clinton with 38 percent, and Obama and Edwards with 31 percent each."
RAD: If I'm a Hillary fan, 38 percent doesn't look all that impressive for a person who has been a national figure since '92. The others on both sides of the political aisle seem about where they should be this early.
CC: "Fifty-two percent of those who said they knew enough to judge McCain said they were enthusiastic or comfortable with him; 51 percent said that about Giuliani and 50 percent said it about Obama. Edwards was at 43 percent, and Clinton at 40 percent. This last measure is helpful in ascertaining the potential for growth in support."
RAD: Again Clinton's 40 percent is a red flag to political pros and moneybags in the party. If Obama is on the same level with McCain and Rudy G. that's very good news for a fellow who is trolling for mega bucks to get his campaign up and running.
CC: "Looking at the same measurements by party, 17 percent of Republicans said they were enthusiastic about McCain and Giuliani, while 6 percent said the same about Romney and 3 percent chose Brownback. When those who were merely comfortable with the candidates were added, Giuliani's combined support rose to 58 percent and McCain's to 54 percent."
RAD: Question - can Rudy G. appeal outside of the east coast? I personally don't think so. Too many Americans hate New Yorkers just as much as many hate the damn Yankees! Rudy G. comes off as the brash and arrogant New Yorker who thinks the only thing west of the Hudson River is California. How will he play in Peoria?
CC: "Among those Republicans who felt they could accurately judge the candidates, 71 percent were either enthusiastic or comfortable with Giuliani, compared to 64 percent for McCain and 47 percent for Romney."
RAD: Rudy looks good but will it last. Not in Iowa and not in New Hampshire. Romney has the best chance with roots in the west, Utah and having been a GOP governor of the People's Republic of Massachusetts.
CC: "Among Democrats, 33 percent were enthusiastic about Clinton, with 25 percent for Obama, 21 percent for Edwards and 3 percent for Biden. Combining enthusiastic with comfortable voters gave Clinton 66 percent, Edwards 53 percent, Obama 49 percent and Biden 15 percent."
RAD: Hillary's enthusiasm rating is not a high as one might expect for the heroine of the feminist movement. Obama's just reflects his rock star ability right now. Will it last, who knows? He may be the best thing the Ds have had since JFK. The other ratings are really a reflection of name familiarity…
CC: "Among Democrats who knew enough to rate the candidates, 74 percent said they were enthusiastic or comfortable with Edwards and Obama, compared with 71 percent for Clinton and 39 percent for Biden."
"When it comes to the candidate voters simply cannot support, Clinton tops the field with 46 percent, followed by Edwards with 32 percent, Giuliani at 26 percent, Biden and McCain at 25 percent each, Obama at 23 percent, Romney at 19 percent and Brownback at 17 percent."
"Looking only at Democratic voters, 18 percent said they could not support Biden. Sixteen percent rejected Clinton, 11 percent rejected Edwards and 10 percent said they could not back Obama.
Seventeen percent of Republicans said they could not vote for Giuliani, while 15 percent said that about McCain, 13 percent about Romney and 11 percent about Brownback."
RAD: Red alert Hillary fans. When your choice trails Obama and Edwards one has to assume the voters are looking for someone 'other' than Hillary Clinton. And with high negatives like that 46 percent will Hillary be '08's Howard Dean?
You read it here first - look for Obama vs. Romney in '08. Both are new faces without any baggage so far… Stay tuned. The fun has just begun. Damn, Molly would love this!