Commentary Magazine


Topic: Claire McCaskill

One Down

Well, well — it seems that reality has poked its head into the U.S. Senate. This report explains:

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

And if they can’t get a massive tax and regulatory bill through now, how are they going to get it passed in an election year? One suspects they won’t and it’s dead. But this was a top Obama priority (“The climate-bill delay sidetracks one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities. Mr. Obama has said action to curb greenhouse gases would unleash investment in clean-energy technology and create jobs”). Couldn’t he use his power of persuasion to get this through? Apparently not. While Nancy Pelosi could force her troops to walk the plank (for nothing, it turned out), the ensuing backlash has cooled whatever enthusiasm there was for this. And 10.2 percent unemployment didn’t help either:

Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.

“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).

Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.

You don’t suppose a similar sentiment might take hold on health-care reform, do you? Stay tuned.

Well, well — it seems that reality has poked its head into the U.S. Senate. This report explains:

Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

And if they can’t get a massive tax and regulatory bill through now, how are they going to get it passed in an election year? One suspects they won’t and it’s dead. But this was a top Obama priority (“The climate-bill delay sidetracks one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities. Mr. Obama has said action to curb greenhouse gases would unleash investment in clean-energy technology and create jobs”). Couldn’t he use his power of persuasion to get this through? Apparently not. While Nancy Pelosi could force her troops to walk the plank (for nothing, it turned out), the ensuing backlash has cooled whatever enthusiasm there was for this. And 10.2 percent unemployment didn’t help either:

Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.

“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).

Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.

You don’t suppose a similar sentiment might take hold on health-care reform, do you? Stay tuned.

Read Less

Hillary Couldn’t Say This

Hillary Clinton’s remarks suggesting that Barack Obama has a white voter problem brought howls of protest from Democrats and pundits. What she didn’t say, probably because she is still nominally running for the Democratic nomination in a primary dominated by liberals, is that his race may not be as big a problem as his views. That’s the premise of this Los Angeles Times column, which makes a persuasive case that Obama’s appealing demeanor and the issue of his race have masked a larger, ideological problem.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a prominent Obama supporter, admits: “The key is going to be whether Barack can avoid getting on defense on social ‘wedge’ issues and can stay on the offense on economic issues.” She’s not the only one who thinks Obama may be caught on the wrong side of the ideological divide. The LA Times piece explains:

Obama has “handicaps and potential problems, race being one of them, [but] it’s not the only one,” Pew Center President Andrew Kohut said. “He is perceived as a liberal. He is perceived by many voters as not well grounded on foreign policy and not tough enough . . . and he has a potential problem, distinct from race, of being seen as an elitist, an intellectual.”

Well, that sounds quite a bit like the McCain game plan. Jill Zuckerman reports:

“We’ll make the case that Barack Obama is a wonderful new voice selling old, discredited ideas, including the most massive tax increase since Walter Mondale ran for president,” said Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser. “It’s a combination of weakness, not being ready to be president and not being able to deliver on the things he says he will deliver on.”

So it might have been more accurate for Clinton to have said that Democrats who nominate a left-liberal without foreign policy experience do so at their own peril, though she did try a bit of that with her “3 a.m.” ad. Obama has yet to confront an all-out ideological attack. Such criticism may sound like “old” politics. But all politics, in the end, is about making distinctions and getting voters to choose between candidates’ competing visions.

McCain’s camp appears eager to do just that, perhaps in the town hall formats where they believe their candidate thrives. (Has Obama ever faced questions from a crowd that doesn’t agree with his ideological premises?) How Obama stands up to that line of inquiry will in large part determine, just as much as the unavoidable politics of race, who wins in November.

Hillary Clinton’s remarks suggesting that Barack Obama has a white voter problem brought howls of protest from Democrats and pundits. What she didn’t say, probably because she is still nominally running for the Democratic nomination in a primary dominated by liberals, is that his race may not be as big a problem as his views. That’s the premise of this Los Angeles Times column, which makes a persuasive case that Obama’s appealing demeanor and the issue of his race have masked a larger, ideological problem.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a prominent Obama supporter, admits: “The key is going to be whether Barack can avoid getting on defense on social ‘wedge’ issues and can stay on the offense on economic issues.” She’s not the only one who thinks Obama may be caught on the wrong side of the ideological divide. The LA Times piece explains:

Obama has “handicaps and potential problems, race being one of them, [but] it’s not the only one,” Pew Center President Andrew Kohut said. “He is perceived as a liberal. He is perceived by many voters as not well grounded on foreign policy and not tough enough . . . and he has a potential problem, distinct from race, of being seen as an elitist, an intellectual.”

Well, that sounds quite a bit like the McCain game plan. Jill Zuckerman reports:

“We’ll make the case that Barack Obama is a wonderful new voice selling old, discredited ideas, including the most massive tax increase since Walter Mondale ran for president,” said Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser. “It’s a combination of weakness, not being ready to be president and not being able to deliver on the things he says he will deliver on.”

So it might have been more accurate for Clinton to have said that Democrats who nominate a left-liberal without foreign policy experience do so at their own peril, though she did try a bit of that with her “3 a.m.” ad. Obama has yet to confront an all-out ideological attack. Such criticism may sound like “old” politics. But all politics, in the end, is about making distinctions and getting voters to choose between candidates’ competing visions.

McCain’s camp appears eager to do just that, perhaps in the town hall formats where they believe their candidate thrives. (Has Obama ever faced questions from a crowd that doesn’t agree with his ideological premises?) How Obama stands up to that line of inquiry will in large part determine, just as much as the unavoidable politics of race, who wins in November.

Read Less

Exit Polls

They are useless. Sen. Claire McCaskill on CNN wisely said, “If the top number is wrong you have to question all the numbers below it.” But networks have nothing to talk about, so that is what they are covering, knowing the numbers are in all likelihood inaccurate. Just in case you thought they were in the business of informing the public.

They are useless. Sen. Claire McCaskill on CNN wisely said, “If the top number is wrong you have to question all the numbers below it.” But networks have nothing to talk about, so that is what they are covering, knowing the numbers are in all likelihood inaccurate. Just in case you thought they were in the business of informing the public.

Read Less

Super Fight

If the deadlock between lunch-box Democrats and Bill Bradley Democrats (the former Hillary Clinton’s base and the latter Barack Obama’s) cannot be broken with a new flood of money or by an influx of independent voters freed up from a decided Republican race, will the super-delegates–796 quintessential Washington insiders–decide who the Democratic nominee will be? Figures as diverse as David Brooks and Nancy Pelosi have suggested they will. This raises two questions: who will this favor and is this a good way to pick a President.

You might imagine at first blush that Clinton (who to date has secured a lead of 211-128 among the super-delegates) would like nothing better than a smoke-filled room to settle the matter. However, Washington insiders can read polls. And it is clear that Obama, at least now, stacks up better against John McCain than does Clinton. Moreover, the number of Obama’s red-state backers (from Tom Daschle to Claire McCaskill to Janet Napolitano) have made clear that they view him as the one capable of creating a governing majority. So, counterintuitive as it may be, if the nomination is really at stake I think Obama may have the upper hand.

As to the second issue, the smoke-filled rooms were what years of political party rule “reform” was supposed to banish. Like most campaign reform, the law of unintended consequences looms large here. Years of fiddling by legions of rule committees and the more recent effort by Terry McAuliffe, longtime Clinton confidant and now campaign chairman, to create the perfect system (to benefit a supposedly strong front-runner like Clinton) may result in the perfect mess. It is hard to imagine that the loser and his/her backers would not go away very, very mad if a gang of Washington pols decided the nomination. The bitterness and recriminations, not to imagine the back-room deals needed to cobble together a victory, would consume the media and the party. The prospect is an inviting one for the GOP (which explains all the e-mails I receive from GOP types gloating at the possibility of just such an outcome): it would make the GOP’s current intra-party squabbles look like a Zen encounter group.

If the deadlock between lunch-box Democrats and Bill Bradley Democrats (the former Hillary Clinton’s base and the latter Barack Obama’s) cannot be broken with a new flood of money or by an influx of independent voters freed up from a decided Republican race, will the super-delegates–796 quintessential Washington insiders–decide who the Democratic nominee will be? Figures as diverse as David Brooks and Nancy Pelosi have suggested they will. This raises two questions: who will this favor and is this a good way to pick a President.

You might imagine at first blush that Clinton (who to date has secured a lead of 211-128 among the super-delegates) would like nothing better than a smoke-filled room to settle the matter. However, Washington insiders can read polls. And it is clear that Obama, at least now, stacks up better against John McCain than does Clinton. Moreover, the number of Obama’s red-state backers (from Tom Daschle to Claire McCaskill to Janet Napolitano) have made clear that they view him as the one capable of creating a governing majority. So, counterintuitive as it may be, if the nomination is really at stake I think Obama may have the upper hand.

As to the second issue, the smoke-filled rooms were what years of political party rule “reform” was supposed to banish. Like most campaign reform, the law of unintended consequences looms large here. Years of fiddling by legions of rule committees and the more recent effort by Terry McAuliffe, longtime Clinton confidant and now campaign chairman, to create the perfect system (to benefit a supposedly strong front-runner like Clinton) may result in the perfect mess. It is hard to imagine that the loser and his/her backers would not go away very, very mad if a gang of Washington pols decided the nomination. The bitterness and recriminations, not to imagine the back-room deals needed to cobble together a victory, would consume the media and the party. The prospect is an inviting one for the GOP (which explains all the e-mails I receive from GOP types gloating at the possibility of just such an outcome): it would make the GOP’s current intra-party squabbles look like a Zen encounter group.

Read Less

Two Different Candidates

The side-by-side opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal, one by Hillary Clinton and the other by a trio of Barack Obama supporters (Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill) are revealing.

Clinton’s purpose is to describe her plan for “shared prosperity.” On health care she declares, “Unless we cover all Americans, we will never end the hidden tax that the uninsured pass on to the rest of us when they end up in the emergency room and we wind up footing the bill. ” Her solution–which she cleverly avoids describing in any particularity–is to pass a massive unhidden tax, mandate healthcare coverage, and do such amorphous and unattainable things as “cut unnecessary spending.” She has lots and lots of other ideas, from matching IRA’s to encouraging women and minorities to pursue science careers (white men can apparently stick to sociology) to “ending the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind” (otherwise known as spending gobs of federal money on education), all the while “making government more efficient and restoring fiscal responsibility.” You can argue there is plenty of “sharing” but not much “prosperity” in her agenda, or that her approach is not intellectually honest or coherent, but give her credit: she has lots she wants to do.

In stark contrast, Obama’s supporters focus almost entirely on his campaign, his “new majority for change,” and these Red state officials’ hope that he will deliver broad electoral success to the Democratic Party. They tout his fundraising prowess and describe in detail his biography. It is eight paragraphs into the column before they address any substance and only then is in the broadest strokes–”make healthcare affordable for every American,” “give all of our children a world class education” and develop “new sources of energy.” (My goodness, had the rest of us only thought of these!) Foreign policy gets a single paragraph which consists of the reminder that he opposed the Iraq war, wants to take care of veterans( the favorite non-foreign policy part of every Democrat’s foreign policy), and “conduct diplomacy with our adversaries as well as our friends.” That’s about it.

One does sympathize at some level with Clinton that she must confront, and indeed may lose, to a man offering a “program” of so little substance. But that may indeed be altogether acceptable to Democratic primary voters. They simply want her and her husband to be gone, they want to feel good about their unbridled liberal sentiments and they will worry about the rest later. The appeal of a confrontation free style of politics and the lure of a new majority may just be too tempting to resist.

The side-by-side opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal, one by Hillary Clinton and the other by a trio of Barack Obama supporters (Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill) are revealing.

Clinton’s purpose is to describe her plan for “shared prosperity.” On health care she declares, “Unless we cover all Americans, we will never end the hidden tax that the uninsured pass on to the rest of us when they end up in the emergency room and we wind up footing the bill. ” Her solution–which she cleverly avoids describing in any particularity–is to pass a massive unhidden tax, mandate healthcare coverage, and do such amorphous and unattainable things as “cut unnecessary spending.” She has lots and lots of other ideas, from matching IRA’s to encouraging women and minorities to pursue science careers (white men can apparently stick to sociology) to “ending the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind” (otherwise known as spending gobs of federal money on education), all the while “making government more efficient and restoring fiscal responsibility.” You can argue there is plenty of “sharing” but not much “prosperity” in her agenda, or that her approach is not intellectually honest or coherent, but give her credit: she has lots she wants to do.

In stark contrast, Obama’s supporters focus almost entirely on his campaign, his “new majority for change,” and these Red state officials’ hope that he will deliver broad electoral success to the Democratic Party. They tout his fundraising prowess and describe in detail his biography. It is eight paragraphs into the column before they address any substance and only then is in the broadest strokes–”make healthcare affordable for every American,” “give all of our children a world class education” and develop “new sources of energy.” (My goodness, had the rest of us only thought of these!) Foreign policy gets a single paragraph which consists of the reminder that he opposed the Iraq war, wants to take care of veterans( the favorite non-foreign policy part of every Democrat’s foreign policy), and “conduct diplomacy with our adversaries as well as our friends.” That’s about it.

One does sympathize at some level with Clinton that she must confront, and indeed may lose, to a man offering a “program” of so little substance. But that may indeed be altogether acceptable to Democratic primary voters. They simply want her and her husband to be gone, they want to feel good about their unbridled liberal sentiments and they will worry about the rest later. The appeal of a confrontation free style of politics and the lure of a new majority may just be too tempting to resist.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.