Confessions of a Hoosier Democrat

Blogging Indiana Politics and the 2008 Presidential Race.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bayh in New Hampshire

Sen Bayh spent a couple of days, for no particular reason of course, in New Hampshire this weekend...

Here's some reviews...


CONCORD, N.H. U.S. Senator Even Bayh (D), Indiana was given a warm welcome from the New Hampshire Young Democrats (NHYD) this morning at the Portsmouth home of Justin Nadeau, where Bayh was the guest of honor for their NHYD Speaker Series. Senator Bayh mingled and discussed politics in a room of over 50 young Democrats that gathered to meet him over brunch.

"I am thrilled with the turn out for this event," said Gray Chynoweth, president of the NHYD. "We originally planned on a group of about 15-20 people, and to see over 50 young Democrats here today just speaks to the growth of our organization and our commitment to staying involved in New Hampshire?s future ."

Bayh, who started his career in politics as a young Democrat and was elected Governor of Indiana at age 32, noted that he appreciated the enthusiasm and involvement of New Hampshire's young people in the political process.

"I'm just so delighted that you're here and as active as you are," Bayh remarked as he began the informal, town hall style discussion. "The future of this county, where we're going, how we're going to get there -- you've got more at stake in the direction that your state and this country takes than anybody else."

Senator Bayh touched upon his views on foreign policy, funding education and healthcare, leaving most of the time free for an informal question and answer session. The senator also reflected on his own experiences as a young Democrat, noting that it was much like a 'walk down memory lane' for him.

In third trip to NH in a year, Bayh makes his case
PORTSMOUTH, March 26 – Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said the likely discussion this week in the Senate over censuring President Bush does not help what should be the priority in among his party leaders: electing more Democrats in November.

Hearings into censuring Bush “only plays into Karl Rove’s hands” Bayh told a house party of mainly liberal leaning Democratic activists in Portsmouth. “If you want real change to President Bush’s policies we have to whoop ‘em in November.”
To activists like George McQuilken, of Portsmouth, the most important characteristic of any Democratic candidate is electibility. And the argument that he was the most electible, was what Bayh stressed the most.

Bayh brought out pictures showing how his home state of Indiana voted overwhelmingly for President Bush in 2004, but also overwhelmingly for him.

Sen. Bayh tells Democrats he backs current primary
MANCHESTER – U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana who is widely seen as a probable Presidential candidate, yesterday threw his support behind keeping New Hampshire's Presidential primary the way it is.
Bayh made clear yesterday he wants things to stay as they are — with no other contests between Iowa and New Hampshire.

"I hope you retain your position. I'm going to do everything I can to keep it that way," said Bayh. His words were greeted with a standing ovation from the partisan crowd of about 150.
At the Manchester event, Bayh, whose father also served as a senator from Indiana, presented himself as a Democrat who could beat a Republican on a national scale. Bayh has done that repeatedly in the Hoosier State, one of the most Republican states in America.

A two-term U.S. senator, Bayh also served as Indiana's governor.

To back up his talk, Bayh laid out his positions on national security matters, the federal budget and trade policy, among other issues. He said it is important to have an honest debate about trade in America.

Sen. Bayh tests presidential waters

PORTSMOUTH - U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., may not be an official presidential candidate, but he certainly sounded like one Sunday.

The son of Birch Bayh - who lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to Jimmy Carter in 1976 - brought his anti-partisanship "we can do better" message to fellow Democrats at two Port City gatherings.
"We’re part of a filtering system to weed out bad candidates," said Peter Somssich of the Portsmouth Democrats.

"I hope I don’t get weeded," Bayh responded. "Pruned a little, but not weeded."

Bayh recalled the last time he was in Portsmouth 30 years ago as a 20-year-old college student going door-to-door to campaign for his father.

"That’s when I was bitten by the (political) bug."
"He has said he’s thinking of running for president, and he knows how important New Hampshire is," said his communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, who added that no announcements would be likely until after the midterm elections.

Former Port City Mayor Robert Shaines came to listen to Bayh and "size him up" as a candidate.

"It’s obvious he’s very experienced as a speaker," Shaines said. "He’s very charismatic."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sen Bayh at the Georgia JJ Dinner

The reviews are starting to come in on Sen Bayh's keynote address at the Georgia State JJ Dinner...

Evan Bayh gave the Keynote Address. Wow! Very impressive. First he spoke highly of Max Cleland, telling how days after "that disgusting and horrible" election battle with Saxby Chamblis, Max asked for permission to come speak with Bayh. Bayh wanted to tell him how sorry he felt for him. Cleland wanted to talk about how Bayh could prevent that from happening to him and any other Democrat in the future.

Bayh discussed running against the GOP by confronting them on national security, the budget and values. He feels we can win by attacking them on these. He sold me, and is my top primary contender right now. He spoke about how Georgia and Indiana are very similar and how he won by a higher percentage in 2004 than Bush did. I think he is nailing it.

From the Macon Telegraph:
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, who is weighing a run for the White House, told Georgia Democrats on Monday night that the party needs to focus on national security and family values if they want to beat Republicans in November.

Bayh said the GOP has been "a heckuva lot better at national security politics than national security policies."

Bayh, a two-term senator and governor from Indiana, sought to portray himself as the kind of conservative Democrat who could win in a red state such as Georgia.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we can carry a state like Georgia," Bayh said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Andre at Georgia Politics Unfiltered said:
Finally came the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, where Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) was the keynote speaker. There are several articles in the papers about his speech, last night, and I can honestly say that Sen. Bayh sounded like a man running for President and he impressed me. He gave about a 30 to 45-minute speech without using any notes or a teleprompter. Now I know when we're talking about being President, the ability to give a speech "off the cuff" is meaningless, but I'm going to keep an eye on Sen. Bayh because I could see him with a spot on the national Democratic ticket.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sen Bayh's address to AIPAC

Thanks to Smithers at All America PAC for getting this out to us...

Check it out... it was a homerun!

Senator Evan Bayh
Address to the AIPAC Annual Policy Conference
Washington, DC
March 6, 2006
As Delivered

Thank you for that warm welcome, ladies and gentlemen. I look around the room this evening and I know that I am with a room full of friends, for that I am most grateful. I am also grateful for Tim’s very kind introduction. I have learned to not to take it for granted during my career.

As Tim mentioned, I was elected Governor of our State at a very young age, at the ripe old age of 33. In 1989 shortly after taking office, we had a reception at the Governor’s residence for a very prominent group of Americans from across the country. And Susan and I, she was 29 at the time she became our first lady, we were standing on the landing of our residence talking to the delegations. And along comes the delegation from Tennessee, and I extend my hand in greeting and I say “good evening sir, welcome to the Governor’s residence.” The head of the delegation looks me up one side and down the other and proceeds to put his coat on my outstretched arm, looks me in the eye and says “Thank you very much, young man, I will pick this up when I leave.” So what else could I say but “yes sir, we will take good care of it.” So Tim, I am grateful to you for no cases of mistaken identity this evening.

I am privileged to be with my colleague and friend, Susan Collins. You know, the United States Senate would be a much better place if we had more Susan Collins’. In a city that is all too often driven by strident partisanship and ideologies, Susan has always been a voice for reason and consensus. I want to recognize someone else who has already been mentioned already in the audience, but first by way of preface. When I ran for the United States Senate in 1998, from time to time, journalists would ask me, they would say, “Evan, of all the members of the United States Senate, that you have had the privilege of seeing, who would you most like to emulate?” I thought that it was a difficult question because there are many prominent members of the Senate, but I would always say, “when it comes to integrity and moral courage, I would be honored to be like Joe Lieberman.” In eight years now, I have seen nothing in Joe to change my mind.

A word or two about my friend, Howard Friedman, you are blessed to have Howard’s leadership. I have been to his home and met his family, we’ve taken our children to Orioles games together. We have been good friends for many years. He is a good dad, a great leader, and AIPAC needs him at this critical hour.

And a word or two about your organization at this important time. I know the topic of lobbying reform is very topical in Washington today, as it should be. Joe Lieberman is helping to lead the charge on what will soon come. Our government has fallen into low regard for too many the Americans. We need to do whatever it takes to rehabilitate their faith and confidence in our government. But at the same time, we need to make sure that the free flow of information continues so that those of us who make public policy can make sure we are making those choices in informed and intelligent ways. And in that regard, I want to say how vitally important and beneficial the role of AIPAC has been. How much is like is, this is to Israel, the role of AIPAC has strengthened America, it has strengthened the US and Israel’s relationship, it has strengthened America’s place in the world, and the educational role of AIPAC must continue.

My own relationship with the State of Israel goes back many, many years and is, in some ways, hereditary. My first visit to Israel was as a college student at Indiana University, with my parents, when my father was privileged to serve in the Senate. I know he would want to give you all his warmest regards tonight. I remember we spent 10 days. We stayed at a kibbutz near the port of Eilat; traveled across the country; saw the gunnery places, the Jordanian gun emplacements on the West Bank, the closest to Israel, where on a clear day you could almost see across the nation to the Mediterranean ocean. That had a profound and lasting effect on me, the physical intimacy of the place, the special national security concerns that are born of that intimacy. I have been privileged to be back on many occasions, flew up the coast with an Israeli Colonel to have lunch with several Israeli generals and looked out across the plane where Syrian tanks invaded in 1973. Then came back down the Jordan River Valley, where you can see hilltop to hilltop and an Arab village or Israeli settlement. You can see the difficult security situation that confronts the State of Israel, right there with my own eyes. Just a year ago January, I was privileged to take Susan with me for the first time. Most people who follow the Israeli economy told me there was a brief spike in retail activity during the time of our visit. I was informed that Susan was always welcome to return, and I hope that we can and take my young twin ten-year-old boys someday. It would be a special visit for our family in many ways.

Just this January as a part my role as a member of the Intelligence Committee I visited Israel, the day after the Prime Minister was stricken. He remains in our prayers this evening. I met with other intelligence and military individuals and with their own representatives to see what we could do to strengthen our cooperation in the common war against terror. All of these experiences have convinced me that the relationship between the United States and Israel is not based on temporary expediency, but is instead founded on something far more profound and deeper than that. The very values and principles that go to the core of the founding of our two nations: the embrace of democracy and freedom that secures people’s aspirations, their hopes and their dreams. The embrace of free-market capitalism and personal innovation as the best path towards prosperity. The recognition that tolerance and diversity are ports to truly fortunate societies. All of these things make the United States special. All of these things make the State of Israel special. And it is these things that will make our bonds everlasting, strong, and enduring in good times and in bad.

Of course, it also these things that have led both of our nations to be challenged today. These are difficult times. We saw that when 3,000 innocents were slaughtered on 9/11 by suicide bombers enraged because of radical jihad. We have seen it repeatedly in Israel throughout the years where hundreds of innocent men, women, and children have lost their lives.

We’ve seen it in London, in Madrid, in Amman, in Bali. We see it across Iraq each and every day. It is a dangerous world and to stand together and prosper within it, the United States and Israel need policies today to ensure our security that are both tough and smart.

Let me begin with Hamas – and let me be clear, Hamas is a terrorist organization. It has sworn to destroy the State of Israel, it is responsible for the deaths and woundings of thousands of innocent civilians. Until Hamas recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist, until it renounces the use of terror not only in word but in deed, until it recognizes the agreements that have already been struck on behalf of the Palestinian people, it should receive not one penny, not one penny from the United States of America.

Many hope, as we all must, that Hamas will change what it fundamentally is. But mark me down as a skeptic. The embrace of Hamas of the destruction of Israel in its founding doctrine is prefaced upon its radical interpretation of the Koran. People may negotiate about many things, they may compromise on many things, but is highly unlikely that they will negotiate or compromise on their core religious convictions. I simply am unpersuaded that there is such a thing, or can ever be such a thing as a moderate suicide bomber or a pragmatic killer of women and children.

They are who they are, and must be dealt with as they are, not as we all wish they might be. It is tragic what has happened to the Palestinian people. Never has there been a people more in need of responsible leadership, never has there been a more important historic junction and the need for a reconciliation. A reconciliation among the Palestinians that embraces the future and jettisons their illusions. A reconciliation that embraces the difficult but necessary process of building a state with schools and roads and jobs and hospitals, and gives up the illusions and the embrace, as Senator Collins so eloquently put it, of the culture of suicide and death. That is something for which we must hope. But we must not be diluted by our hopes. Nor can we afford to be diluted by the role that Iran is playing today. In my recent travels across the Middle East, I visited Israel, I visited Iraq, I visited Afghanistan, I visited Pakistan, and in each and every one of these countries, the malevolent role of Iran was mentioned. They are not our friend, they are not freedom’s friend, and they must be dealt with in a serious, tough, and smart way.

Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terror. They have sworn to destroy the State of Israel. They have slaughtered Americans in Lebanon, in Saudi Arabia, across Iraq today, they enable our enemies. And their President, not too long ago said, to an audience of 5,000 in Tehran, “just imagine a world without the United States of America.” And now these people, led by radical theocrats and an apocalyptic president who envisions the end of time, seek nuclear weapons. Well, to that I say, “Not on our watch.”

We have waited at our peril and can afford to wait no more. Iran must be presented with the concrete facts of enforceable, comprehensive economic sanctions: cutting off their flow of imported petroleum refined into gasoline for which they require 40% of their petroleum needs, cutting off the import of machinery that makes their economy go, cutting off the other things that provide for their economic progress. They must be confronted with a complete and total travel ban. They must be confronted with a complete freeze of their financial resources and assets around the world. They must be cut off culturally and diplomatically and be turned into a pariah state if they do not to agree to change their ways.

Of course, no discussion of Iran can be complete without a discussion about the critically important need for our country to achieve energy independence. We need to devote urgency and commitment, and sacrifice to this issue. Because until we free ourselves from imported oil from the Middle East, we will be subject to blackmail from places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also unstable places like Venezuela and Russia and we must not allow that to continue.

Until we find alternative fuels for both ourselves and the rest of the world, it will be difficult to convince China, India, and others to do what must be done to isolate the radical Iranian regime. Until we do what it takes to liberate ourselves from petroleum imports, we will find ourselves in a tragic and intolerable position of funding both sides - both sides - of the war against terrorism, and that must stop.

Fortunately, there is a vehicle for accomplishing these objectives. It has a very catchy name. It’s called the Bayh, Lieberman, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera Act. I recommend it to you. I don’t know why, it just kind of has a resonance. Here’s what it will do: the President in his of the State of the Union Address was right in his call to reducing our imports of petroleum from the Middle East by 75% over the next 20 years. Under the approach that Joe Lieberman and I have endorsed along with six Republican colleagues and six Democratic colleagues, we would completely eliminate imports of petroleum from the Middle East in half that amount of time and that is the kind of urgency we need.

Building the next generation of high-mileage vehicles with American workers right here in the United States of America, producing more ethanol and bio-fuels so that America’s farmers can produce America’s fuel, research into things like hydrogen and other fossil fuels that will truly set our country free. I firmly believe this is vitally important because it’s in our economic interests, our financial interests, our energy interests, but above all else, it is what it takes it set our children free. That is the challenge of our generation.

Let me conclude by saying this. I am optimistic that we will ultimately prevail in the great struggle in which we are now engaged. Not because I believe it will be easy, on the contrary, I know it will be difficult. But it’s the work of a generation. I’m optimistic not because I believe it will be without sacrifice. Far from it, too often the days ahead are likely to involve great tragedy and sorrow. But I am optimistic that we will ultimately prevail in our cause because the United States of America and the State of Israel stand on the right side of both human history and human nature. I am reminded of something that Abraham Lincoln once said
during of some of America’s darkest times. He said that “a house divided cannot stand,” and that “America could no longer endure as a country half slave and half free.”

As I look around the world today, and I see the process of global integration where ideas transcend the globe with the click of a computer key. Commerce flows around the planet, weapons of mass destruction and possible pandemics respect no national borders. I know that the time has come where it will no longer be possible for eighty percent of the world’s people to labor under the yoke of tyranny and degradation, while those of us blessed to be right here tonight seek to celebrate our own freedom. It can no longer be us that cause the freedom and liberty throughout the world. It’s not only the right and idealistic thing to do; it is also very much in our self-interest. It is also in the heart of human nature because I believe there are
breakthroughs that we are championing here tonight, friends of America and friends of Israel. I believe that truth is more powerful than deceit, that knowledge will eventually triumph over ignorance, and that love is more noble than hate. I believe, deep in my heart, that the United States and Israel are exceptional nations; and, have been placed upon this earth to achieve humanity’s highest aspirations. And if we do not tire, if we do not cease, if we carry on with our labors through thick and thin, it is my deepest conviction that one day we will know the blessing of a benevolent God, known by many names in many faiths and many traditions. That he will bless both us and our children with joy and tranquility and peace yet again. This is what has brought us here this evening. It is what animates the policy of our great nation and that of Israel. It lies in the heart of AIPAC. It is the cause that we struggle for together. With your help, and God willing, I know that one day we will prevail.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

With friends like these....

The Cato Institute recently had a panel discussion... Two conservative authors, Former Reagan aide Bruce Bartlett and conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, were extremely critical of the Bush Administration...

Bartlett is the author of "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and betrayed the Reagan Legacy" and called the Bush Administration "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."

Sullivan, author of the upcoming book "The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It; How to Get It Back," called the President "reckless" and "a socialist," and accused him of betraying "almost every principle conservatism has ever stood for."

In other news... the House Republicans have set up a showdown with the White House over the Ports deal. “We believe that the U.S. should not allow a government-run company to operate American ports,” said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that would block the sale.

I guess we really can't say that the Republicans are marching in lockstep with the White House, can we?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rolling Stone approves of Sen Bayh's Iran stance

Ok... so it isn't the Washington Post, Time Magazine or the Economist... but hey, they're no dummys at Rolling Stone. Tim Dickinson penned this short essay about the Democrats and Iran.

As a side note... Kudos to Steve at for getting the shoutout from Rolling Stone.
Democrats and Iran

If the Democrats had the sense God gave geese -- and I have my doubts -- they would lock the entire congressional caucus, as well as every prospective 2008 presidential candidate, in a room and not come out until they'd developed an aggressive, coherent, unified approach to dealing with Iran -- preferably along the lines outlined here by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

As in the past two national elections, Karl Rove has declared he's going to make 2006 all about national security, painting the Democrats -- once again -- as appeasing pussies with a "pre-9/11" mindset.

If you're Bush & Co., the way you assure that national security is the front-burner issue come November -- bigger than the Medicare fiasco, Jack Abramoff, and all the GOP corruption scandals combined -- is to provoke a crisis with Iran.

You don't actually have to march on Tehran, mind you. You just have to go through the saber-rattling motions: Paint the maniac mullahs' nuclear ambitions as an intolerable threat. It isn't hard, because, this time, it's true.

You carefully stoke fears of an Iranian A-Bomb in the New York subway, and then stage another Congressional force-resolution vote -- in GOP crafted language that will be intolerable to the Democrat's dovish base. Democratic congressmen -- and particularly the 2008 hopefuls -- will hem and haw, before some sizeable faction of the party leadership vote with Bush. The MoveOn/Deaniac base will be demoralized. The Republicans will present a unified front. Swing voters will break to the right. It's 2002 all over again.

This isn't rocket science. In fact, it looks from this story like the stagecraft has already begun.

The only defense the Democrats have on this issue is a good early offense, which in this case is a unified and credibly muscular stance on how to stare down the mullahs. The issue is still just sitting there. The GOP hasn't defined its position. Democrats need to beat them to the punch.

This is the essence of international statecraft: How do you disarm Iran without making it a "killing field"? Like the Cuban Missile Crisis, there's no easy answer. But the Democrats would do well to ask themselves this question, WWJD? -- What Would JFK Do?

First hand account of Bayh's AIPAC speech

Brad Levinson attended the AIPAC dinner last night, head-lined by Sen Bayh and Sen Susan Collins. He gave the following report:

But I was truly, pleasantly surprised by Evan Bayh. Before I saw him speak, I've gotta say that I thought he wouldn't get anywhere in the primaries. After this, i feel like I've truly got to re-evaluate.

I was most impressed with his stance on renewable energy. Until now, I haven't heard any politician mention not only truly working for energy independence, but the potential economy and economic value of investing and employing workers in this industry. For the longest time, it's baffled me as to why nobody's mentioned this. If Bayh hammers away at this, he's got not only the benefits of energy dependence in the frame of national security, but for economic populism as well. I really believe that this can take him VERY far.

What struck me the most was his polished presence. Eye contact, correct hand gestures, and a really natural feel to his delivery. Even when the stage lights went out and the lighting staff had to put up intense exit lights directly onto him, he didn't flinch. Elizabeth, my girlfriend didn't even notice that technical difficulties had occurred because Bayh didn't hesitate for a second on continuing his speech. He remained completely uninterrupted.

Most importantly -- he stayed. Greeted people as we were all walking out, took pictures, everything. He shook my hand, and I told him that I could very well wear my "Bayh! 2008" after that speech. "Bless your heart," he replied.

Well Brad, I do have to say that I'm jealous you got to hear Sen Bayh speak... and we'll be happy to add you to the list of Bayh supporters!

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Friday Line: Hillary, McCain in a Class of Their Own

The Friday Line: Hillary, McCain in a Class of Their Own

The last time we dedicated the Friday Line to the raw horse race politics of Campaign 2008 was way back in December. Much has changed since, most notably the solidifying of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) as the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

As the Post's Dan Balz noted a recent story, McCain -- along with chief political adviser John Weaver -- has worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes to recruit key operatives who supported President George W. Bush to his increasingly likely 2008 bid.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (N.Y.) fundraising machine continues to churn ($17 million in the bank at the end of 2005) -- further cementing her as the favorite for her party's nomination.

Today's Friday Line separates Clinton and McCain from the rest of the Republican and Democratic fields, placing them in a "frontrunner" category of their own because they are far ahead of the other potential candidates at the moment. "The Field" category represents candidates who can make a legitimate case for dethroning McCain and Clinton come 2008 but just aren't there yet.

Reminder: The Fix's rankings of the 2008 race are just a snapshot in time. As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments section below. Let's get started:


The Frontrunner: Hillary Rodham Clinton

What more can we say about Clinton? Republicans have proven decidedly inept at fielding a solid candidate against her this November, ensuring that her Senate reelection race can serve as an uninterrupted pre-cursor to a national bid. And don't forget that whatever cash Clinton retains in her Senate campaign account after this year can be transferred to a presidential account. We've heard whispers from other Democratic camps that Clinton will decide not to run for the White House. But that seems like wishful thinking. She starts with a double-digit lead in every early state and could well have double the dollars of her nearest challenger. How does a politician turn down a race with that sort of firepower?

The Field

Evan Bayh: Bayh is the tortoise of the Democratic presidential field. He has adopted a "slow-and-steady" approach to the process of fundraising and campaigning that is likely to keep him from emerging as the buzz candidate anytime in the near future. But that approach also should keep him in the conversations of Democratic insiders for months to come. Bayh will never match Edwards in charisma, but he has gotten markedly better -- more animated -- over the past year. It's still hard to see where Bayh goes for votes if Warner continues to be seen as the chosen candidate of those who prize electability in their nominee. But it's also impossible to predict the operating dynamic of a race where the first votes won't be cast until January 2008.

John Edwards: Edwards is taking an entirely different tack at winning the nomination in 2008 than he did in 2004. In his first national race, Edwards lavished state parties and local candidates with money from his leadership political action committee in hopes of currying favor. He has done considerably less of that as he looks ahead to 2008. Edwards has used his advocacy on the poverty issue to emerge as a spokesman for workers' rights -- witness his work on behalf of a number of minimum wage ballot initiatives that will be on the ballot in several states this fall. While Edwards's fundraising has not impressed so far this cycle (he ended 2005 with just $23,000 on hand in his One America PAC), he is clearly the most charismatic candidate on the Democratic side. No longer tied to the Senate could also help Edwards, since no sitting senator since John F. Kennedy in 1960 has been elected president.

Al Gore: Yes, that Al Gore. As I outlined in a recent Fix post, Gore can make a legitimate case for the nomination. He is the only candidate who has shown that he can raise the $50 million (or more) necessary to compete against Clinton for the nomination, and he's the only one who has been unequivocally against the Iraq war from the start. From what we hear, Gore is not interested in participating in the nitty-gritty politics necessary to run and win the 2008 nomination, preferring instead to be drafted -- who wouldn't! Still, until Gore formally says no, he belongs on the Line.

John Kerry: The positions of Kerry and GOP Sen. Bill Frist are remarkably similar at the moment. Both are largely dismissed by the chattering class inside the Beltway but continue to demonstrate an ability to raise vast quantities of money. Kerry's remarkable Internet fundraising operation, which has raised $1 million for Democratic candidates over the past six months, keeps him as a viable 2008 candidate. Democrats, both rank and file and the party elites, tend to be skeptical of a retread candidacy for president (see "Gore, Al"), and Kerry may eventually decide that he'd rather be one of the key powerbrokers in 2008 than the candidate himself. Until then, The Fix is inclined to leave him on the Line.

Mark Warner: Warner's "It Boy" status seems to be wearing off somewhat -- the first dip of the inevitable roller coaster ride of insider opinion that he must endure between now and 2008. Much of that slowing momentum appears to be the result of his low-profile in the last month or so as he focuses heavily on courting the big-dollar donors he will need to challenge Clinton for the nomination. Still, Warner remains the smart money bet to emerge as the anti-Hillary candidate. His second-place showing in a Charleston (South Carolina) County Democratic straw poll late last month seems to back up that perception.

Two Items from the National Journal

First off... they have their first rankings of the potential '08 candidates... They do have a place were you can rank them yourself so I encourage to go and show your support...

1 Clinton - Her fundraising advantage is going to be unprecedented and will likely keep some very good Democrats from running (particularly if she has $50 million in the bank by January 2007). What we’re trying to figure out is whether the latest round of GOP "attacks" on her are simply attempts by Republicans to rally their own base, or if it’s some Machivellian effort to rally Democrats to Clinton so the party really does nominate her (because Republican attacks on Hillary actually improved her poll standing this month). If the strategy is that latter, the GOP should beware: Democrats were ecstatic in ’80 when the Republicans nominated someone widely thought to be "too conservative" – Ronald Reagan.

2 Warner - The now- former Virginia governor is still basking in the afterglow of Tim Kaine's victory. But as a congressional staffer reminds us, Kaine isn’t on the ballot every month between now and ’08 nomination day. Of the four categories we’re using to evaluate the contenders, Warner is arguably scoring higher on "buzz" than even Hillary right now. For the "all we want to do is win" Democrats, Warner is the candidate, despite his not having to take any major positions yet or go through any real scrutiny. In fact, Warner’s probably been through less scrutiny than any of the major contenders on either side. The biggest problem for Warner right now? Getting too much attention.

3 Edwards - Surprised that we have the '04 VP nominee ranked so high? Well, there’s probably no one traveling the country more than Edwards, and his travels have a purpose. He wants to be the labor candidate without the labor baggage. He's very aggressively helping recruit members for the hotel workers union, and he's trumpeting various minimum wage initiatives whenever possible. Toss in his ability to once again tap into trial lawyer money and his already decent poll numbers and his national experience, and it's clear Edwards has the stuff to hang with Hillary. He’s not "new" anymore, so he's down in "buzz," but he's also the only major candidate who seems comfortable going to Hillary's left.

4 BAYH! - Watching Bayh go through the motions reminds us of the early Bill Bradley days (and we’re not just writing that because of Anita Dunn’s involvement in both candidacies). Bayh is being very methodical; he doesn’t spend one day in Iowa, he spends three. He doesn’t just raise PAC money or hard money, he does both. While we’ll admit we have a hard time figuring out where Bayh fits in should the field include the above three, plus a couple of others (after all, how many "I'm electable" campaigns can the Dem primary take?), being methodical always gets rewarded at some point in this process.

5 Richardson - Too high? Don't count on it. There’s just something about Richardson’s resume and drive that has us believing he’s going to be for real. The big question we have is over money. But given his constant travels around the country on behalf of the DGA, Richardson should be able to put himself in front of the right people to fix any financial woes. Yet, we almost didn’t rank him in our top tier due to the recent Diageo/Hotline poll, which showed less than a third of Americans believed the country was "ready" for a Hispanic president. Has the immigration issue created a temporary glass ceiling for Hispanics with national ambitions?

Secondly... they've released their review of which Senators are liberal/conservative... I couldn't find it on their website but the IndyStar did their traditional biased review of it... What the article did say was that Bayh was more conservative than 30 of the other 43 Senate Democrats and the closest to the center of the 5 Senators believed to be running in '08.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

J-Mac's Meaningful Message for Autism

My daughter is autistic. If watching the video of this will make the most hardened soul teary, imagine what it would do to the father of an autistic child.

J-Mac's meaningful message for autism

By Wayne Drehs

It took four minutes. Four measly minutes for high school senior Jason McElwain to morph from a relatively unknown student manager of the Greece Athena basketball team into a nationwide inspiration.
In those 240 seconds, the 5-foot-6 kid with autism, in his first-ever appearance in a high school game, scored 20 points and tied a school record with six 3-pointers.

The grainy video clip of his jaw-dropping accomplishment -- and the pandemonium that ensued in the gym -- has made its way from Greece Athena in Rochester, N.Y., to "Good Morning America," "SportsCenter" and CNN. And as much as it tugs at the emotions of sports fans all across the country, its most significant impact might be felt within the autism community, where doctors, parents and educators are still buzzing about what this all could mean for the treatment of this disease.

"A lot of us feel like this is our gift to have this happen and to have it receive so much nationwide publicity," said Dr. Catherine Lord, a professor of psychiatry and the director for the University of Michigan's Autism and Communications Disorders Center. "There are thousands of Jasons out there, carrying the net for the soccer team, keeping statistics for the baseball team, playing the drum for the school band. This serves as a reminder to give these kids a chance whenever possible."

The timing perhaps couldn't have been better. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, autism, a disease that affects an individual's ability to relate socially to others, is growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent a year, making it the fastest-growing disability in the country. The disease cuts across all racial, ethnic, social and economic lines, yet it affects boys four times more often than girls.

When most people think of autism, their minds immediately race to Raymond Babbitt, Dustin Hoffman's character in the film "Rain Man." But the disease is far more complex than that, imposing wide-ranging effects on its subjects. Some are left speechless or entirely unable to communicate, while others face miniature hurdles each day that often aren't readily visible to those on the outside.

There is no known cure.

"There are thousands of families across the country, getting a diagnosis of autism for their 3-year-old; they took at Jason and have tears in their eyes," said Dr. Susan Hyman, an associate professor for pediatrics at the University of Rochester's Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities. "Because the image they have in their minds isn't of some strapping young teenager making baskets from half court.

"The hope and the promise this provides -- it's priceless."

But hope is only the beginning. For many in the autism community, McElwain's story provides a much-needed template for the right way to integrate a special-needs child into the mainstream community.

When Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society of America, first saw the clip of McElwain's magical night, he was blown away -- not by the frequency of 3-pointers swishing through the net, but by the frenzied students who jumped up and down and waved their arms back and forth and held up pictures of McElwain. Before he had even checked into the game.

"For me, that was enough right there," said Grossman, whose son, Vance, has autism. "It was absolutely thrilling. That's what we as advocates strive so much for -- to have kids included so they can live a relatively normal life. By providing them with those experiences, they can excel at a much greater level than if they were isolated."

That's one of the reasons the buzz about McElwain's success spread so quickly through the autism community. Even before the story went national, Grossman said the inbox of his e-mail account filled up. Dr. Lord also received "countless" e-mails. Autism Listservs, message boards, hotlines … they've all been flooded with McElwain questions. At Greece Athena, secretaries have been taking calls from parents of autistic children, seeking advice.

"The lesson that people need to get from this is why this worked," Hyman said. "You're going to have people looking at the school, the team, the kids, the family. There are a lot of positive interactions there that will hopefully point towards ways to get a similar end result."

The impact could be potentially groundbreaking. Dr. Lord, who in 2001 chaired a National Research Council committee on educational interventions for children with autism, has already begun pointing to McElwain as an example to the families of her patients.

"One of the things we're always negotiating is how to get autistic kids around other kids in a situation that's positive," Lord said. "[Jason's story] is just such a good example of persistence paying off. It produces motivation for the parents who argue it's too hard, they don't want to put their child through this.

"We can tell them, 'Look, there is a place where this did work. Not just because he made great baskets, but because the team and the school accepted him.'"

Before McElwain's sharpshooting, high-profile role models for children with autism were few and far between. Sure, there is the occasional child who grows up to earn his Ph.D. and have a family or become a top-selling artist, but there aren't many whom those inside the autism community can relate to.

McElwain's story -- and the flood of publicity that followed it -- has changed that. Grossman is hopeful that the McElwain experience will inspire schools across the country to increase the number of no-cut sports programs that are offered. Hyman agrees that those 240 seconds can greatly increase the opportunities for others.

"This is about looking at what sports do for kids in America," she said. "You see kids with special needs on the sidelines, not involved, while their typically developing peers are playing. I think the good to come of this is that people will look at the novel ways all members of a community can participate.

"It's wonderful that he got all those points. But what's most wonderful is the circumstances around it. It's bigger than all those baskets."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Memo to Democrats: Get in the game

I need to buy Mark Joseph a beer... he's hit the nail on the head with a few of his points in his latest column on

Note, especially #4 and #6...

Nobody enjoys a football game where one side is running up the score while the other side self-destructs. In the interests of bi-partisanship and an exciting and fairly matched presidential campaign, here are some suggestions for how Democrats can make '08 a real contest. As things stand now and unless they come up with a Plan B quickly, Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to have her clock cleaned by George Allen. But there is still hope for the Democrats and plenty of time for them to change course. Here's how Democrats can get back in the game:

1) Pray really hard that the Republicans give you an opening by nominating Rudy Giuliani or another left-leaning Republican for president. This will alienate the GOP's base, whose members will not be able to bring themselves to vote for him. When millions of devout churchgoers stay home on election day 2008, the White House will be yours again...provided you don't energize them by nominating Sen. Clinton.

2) If the Republicans nominate John McCain, this too may be a win for you. Once he's their nominee, spend part of your advertising budget running commercials quoting McCain trashing various conservative Christian icons. Reminding these voters of McCain's attitude toward many of their leaders will depress turnout.

3) Change your platform on abortion and make the party officially neutral on this hot-button issue. Use some vague, noncommittal language like "we respect the views of all Americans on this divisive issue, and understand the heartfelt concerns of those who believe in a woman's right to choose and those who believe in the unborn child's right to life. There is room in our party for all points of view and we leave it up to each member of our party to follow their conscience on this difficult and divisive issue." In a flash you'll win back the hearts of millions of conservative Democrats, moderate to liberal Evangelicals, and suburban housewives who may be pro-choice but want some limitations. Remember, Billy Graham, the famed evangelist, is still a registered Democrat, though he hasn't voted with you in some time. This will put the votes of the Billy Graham's of the country back in play.

4) Nominate Indiana Senator Evan Bayh for President. Bayh learned from the 1980 defeat of his father, Senator Birch Bayh, how to present liberalism with a mainstream face. He's your man. If he's the nominee, you win and the Republicans lose.

5) Engage the conservative churchgoing audience, don't ignore them. Do your best to hide the condescension you feel for them. Meet with their leaders. Go on their talk shows. Tell them about the change in your party platform on abortion. Don't sneer or condescend. Remember, these are voters you are trying to win over to your side and insulting voters is always a bad idea.

6) Don't hesitate to criticize the president, but do it respectfully. Fifty-one percent of the country voted for him. When you call him names, his voters take it personally. Remember that each time you call him an idiot, you're also calling his voters idiots-not a good idea if you're looking for their votes. Whenever you can, flummox your opponents by criticizing the President for not being conservative enough on issues related to national security. You're already doing this on the Ports issue; do it on other issues like immigration.

7) Do something crazy to shake things up. Propose a flat tax that exempts those earning less than 20K a year or use that Social Security proposal of Robert Wexler's and make it your own. Anything will do, just show the country that you have a pulse and can do more than say no.

8) Begin softening up Allen, the likely GOP nominee now. This guy smells like Reagan, and will be serious trouble for you if he makes it out of the primary. Right now he seems smart, tough, genial, firm and gracious. You will have to provide voters with an alternative interpretation: Coach's son who had everything handed to him in life, intellectual lightweight, blow-dried preener who wants too much to be president-the choices are yours. They may be slim, but if you don't come up with something, he is going to take '08 in a 55-45 cakewalk.

There's still time. Nobody likes a blow-out. Remember the Whigs. Get back in the game