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71% of surveyed Mainers feel Sen. Snowe is doing a good job: 65% of Republicans and 80% of
Democrats. This fatally undercuts the prospect of a primary challenge from the right. This number has not changed significantly since last month, and seems to nullify concerns over the nuclear option standoff.
Note that sen. Frist's poll numbers, however, have plummetted, and Sen. McCain's numbers have similarly taken a hit.
Sen. Snowe also voted against the adoption of CAFTA at Senate Finance Committee yesterday, noting that "the United States has yet to see "the upside of these trade agreements."
Those who feel free trade beneficial might do well to consult the actual numbers:
The latter, in particular, is clearly a picture of America's success in opening the vast chinese market to our exporters.
The Cato Institute also appears to have picked sides (this is what I get for almost never reading their daily briefings, I'm sure I'm late on this one).
Anyway, the Cato's David Boaz writes today:
Republicans who once extolled the virtues of divided power and the Senate's role in slowing down the rush to judgment now demand an end to delays in approving President Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats who now wax eloquent about a "rubber stamp of dictatorship" replacing "the rights to dissent, to unlimited debate and to freedom of speech" in the Senate not too long ago sought to eliminate the filibuster altogether.
Republicans were right in those days. They should take advantage of the Democrats' being right today and return to protecting the rights of the minority. No party holds a majority forever, and some day Republican senators will need to use the filibuster again to stop big-government legislation and slow down a Democratic president's most liberal nominees.
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Couple of interesting blog posts today:
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Over at CenterFields, in a post titled "Not Home On The Range", Rick Heller notes:
Ms. Snowe, meanwhile, had a message for fellow Republicans: "Frankly," she said, "the election of the president drew from Americans who describe themselves as moderates, which is about 45 percent of Americans today. That's something we overlook at our own peril."
In the comments, William Swann - who isn't involved with us - wrote:
I suspect middle America thinks an awful lot like Olympia Snowe, and would feel a real comfort level with her as their leader that they don't quite feel with the likes of Kerry, Bush, Gore, or the other usual suspects. Sen. Snowe has that certain centrist style most Americans would find refreshing -- dedication, a careful approach to policy, professionalism, civility, respect. She also has the substance -- leaning to the left on social policy, but to the right on fiscal and foreign policy. That's a combination that's going to resonate well -- a sense of inclusiveness combined with growth-oriented economics and a tough approach to security.that's a lovely summation, and one I hope that William will let us appropriate.
Adam Yoshida, very much from the conservative ranks, argues in "The Quandary of the Republican Majority" that the GOP's next move should be a moderate in 2008:
Hillary Clinton is running for President with a plan to move to the center, relying upon the anger of partisan Democrats to permit her to do this. I don’t think that they’re going to do it. Instead, I think that the Democratic base is going to demand an ultra-liberal candidate in 2008. They’re in the mood for a Democratic Goldwater, and they’re going to get one.Meanwhile, we're planning on moving this blog over onto our own new platform, a neat bit of blog software called "Noise To Signal" that will integrate nicely with our volunteer center system. Once that's done, you'll hopefully get updates more often.
Republicans, on the other hand, are increasingly pragmatic. Though I’d personally prefer to have a conservative like Jeb Bush for President, I think that the GOP will go with a “moderate”. If I had to pick out three potential front runners for the Republican nomination in 2008, I’d pick Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Any of the three, paired up with a strong conservative (Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, and Tim Pawlenty all seem like possible picks) would be a nearly unbeatable candidate.
In fact, I’d argue that a popular moderate Republican President might be the best thing which could possibly happen for conservative Republicans, especially Giuliani or McCain. Let’s explore the scenario for a minute.
Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that 2006 is a wash. And that, in 2008, we end up with McCain-Brownback versus, say, Dean-Feingold or something like that, with the latter running on a far-left platform. Not only does McCain win in a walk, but he carries with him a massive Congressional contingent. One which doesn’t quite share all of his views.
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Poll indicates nearly one third of Republicans - and two-thirds of independents - do not want to remove the filibuster for confirmation votes; a scant 32% of those polled support it. Sen. Snowe will vote to preserve the Senate's constitutionally-mandated ability to set its own rules, and to prevent future catastrophe should we ever find outselves the minority party in the Senate once again.
Filibuster reform is getting worse poll numbers than social security reform!
We're working quietly but assiduously - many new tools have been developed and rolled out to volunteers, and we will shortly be adding some new content and features to the public website. Busy busy. :p
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Sen. Snowe is leading the way in creating association health plans, which will put small employers on equal footing with large companies that self-insure, and are thus exempted from state health insurance mandates. Senator Snowe's bill will help drive down health insurance costs, and encourage more employers to offer healthcare coverage to workers:
"It is ludicrous that we have a two-tiered health insurance system in this country where one group of employers, large ones and those who are union employers, get preferential treatment over those who create 75 percent of the jobs; I am at a loss to understand why small businesses should be denied the same advantages that these other employers already have." (Oakland Press, 4/3/2005)
"With the passing of Pope John Paul II, a light in the world has gone dark. We have lost one of our most deeply respected and admired religious leaders who sought nothing less than to improve the plight of all people. His overwhelming compassion transcended religion, politics and national boundaries."
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"As we mourn his death, his enduring legacy on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden will live on in the hearts of those who were touched not only by his religious convictions, but also his deeply felt humanity."
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The GOP's resentment is justified: The reason Democrats refused to allow a vote on 10 of Bush's first-term judicial selections is that they would have lost. A majority of senators certainly would have voted to confirm. If Senate Democrats think these nominees are unqualified or dangerous, they should make that case to their colleagues and the American people. Instead, they've managed to get their way without justifying it.
It's frustrating to see an obstinate minority thwart the will of the Senate--and by implication, the will of the people--to confirm judges. But cutting back this long-prized Senate procedure would be a serious mistake, removing a valuable check on the power of tomorrow's majority as well as today's. It would also expand the power of the president. Neither would be a healthy change for the long run.
If the filibuster is scrapped for a fight over judges, how long will it be until it is junked entirely, leaving the Senate vulnerable to any transient surge of sentiment? Someday, Republicans will be in the minority again, and they'll need to filibuster to prevent the Democrats from running roughshod over them.
...There is a better, if slower, option available to Senate Republicans: Make sure the American people know exactly what the Democrats are doing, and make them pay in the next election. Bush's bold deployment of this issue helped Republicans gain control of the Senate in 2002 and to increase their majority in 2004.
2 witty t-shirt ideas that a couple of us threw back and forth:
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The Draft Olympia Snowe website now offers an RSS feed of Snowe-related news, and I addded it as a syndicated LJ feed (snowenews).
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I also found a very neat desktop RSS-driven ticker-tape, if anyone wants it. :)
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"Tim, I don't want to run for president of the United States," she said. Under more pressing, she tried, "I will not run for president of the United States. How is that? I don't know how many ways to say 'no' in this town."
"You're done? You're out?" Russert pressed. "I'm done," she said. They danced back and forth a little while longer, with Rice continuing to say, "I don't intend to run," and Russert asking for her to be more definitive. Finally, she said it again: "I won't run." And Russert had his scoop—and every Republican in the country suddenly got a kick in the teeth.
Moderates who had previously backed Rice - Come on over. We've got a candidate for you, and you'll be glad you switched...
Since the site went live on March 1st, I've not really posted much of anything by way of an update - I wanted to post a quick "this is where we're at". I also want to make a quick note about the bankruptcy bill, which I'll get to in a minute.
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Here's what we've been working on: there are currently two critical "foundational" projects underway. The first is technical, and thus within my remit; the second is strategic, which I'm not especially qualified to speak to. I'll start with the second, because that's the subject on which I have the least to say. We've been blessed with a handfull of people who have a lot of experience with, and ideas on, running an actual campaign. I try to keep something at the forefront of my mind at all times when I'm getting bogged down in the technical minutiae of what I'm working on: the quote from Ken Mehlman I posted back on 2/21: "Technology is a way you communicate a leader's message, a candidate's message, a campaign's message - they are not a substitute for the message". Technology is no substitute for a message, and I think Sen. Snowe has one. However, we also need a strategy for how to move the campaign forwards and to move the campaign beyond the web - certainly, we are going to use the web extensively, but it is not and can not be anything more than a tool to the ultimate objective: building a case and a movement. We are working on building that strategy.
Let me make a very broad and general note about my little corner of Snowe08 (the official title of which, I think we have determined, is "The Campaign to Draft Olympia Snowe" - Snowe08 or OS08, our internal shorthand, if used in public contexts, carries the risk of people thinking that we're officially sanctioned, which we are not), which is the technical stuff. As mentioned above, we are going to be be using the internet to tie the campaign together: as a recruiting ground, as a communication tool, and as a means of rolling out tools to volunteers nationwide. My task in the last two weeks has been in completing the back-end that will allow us to do that; it's been a slow process, because of other commitments I have, but we're nearly there. Once that work is done, I think we're going to be in very good shape, we'll have a very solid foundation on which to build, a good system for bringing people in and communicating with them.
So right now, we're still rather inwardly-focussed - we had a really nice burst of publicity immediately prior to the launch of the site, and that's brought in a lot of interest, and we're working on the strategic and technical framework that is going to let us go forwardly confidently, effectively and with a high level of confidence in the technology we're using. The thing to keep in mind is that no-one has ever done anything like this before - although we draw precedents from Dean for America, from Draft Clark, from Bush-Cheney '04, no-one has ever tried to do something quite like this (a genuine draft movement in the information age); Dean was seeking the nomination before his campaign coalesced, and I don't get the impression that General Clark needed drafting so much as inviting. We are in the slightly different position of supporting a candidate who isn't seeking the office, and that carries a unique set of burdens - but personally, I think that her seeming lack of aspiration to the power of the Presidency is another good reason why she should get the office.
Now, my nose has been deep in the the technology trough, to the point where I took my eyes off the Senate, and we're getting people e-mailing about why Sen. Snowe is supporting the bankruptcy bill, not to mention all the various traffic in the blogosphere. I hope to be able to speak with some kind of authority on that matter later this week, but for now, I'm going to refrain. As noted above, running a campaign without the sanction of the person you're campaigning for does carry certain burdens, and one of them is that it isn't as simple as just calling her and asking for an explanation, in the way that, say, the Dean campaign could ask their candidate for an explanatory 101 on something he vetoed.
One thing that I do want to address, though, is this ludicrous notion that Sen. Snowe "voted against an increase in the minimum wage" in the process of the voting on the bill.
Here's the text of a letter I just sent off to the Times-Record on this matter:
I write to express dismay at your recent editorial regarding Senator Olympia Snowe's vote against the Kennedy Amendment to the Bankruptcy Bill ("Senate failed the test", 03/09/2005).
Your editorial attempts to charactertize Senator Snowe as being opposed to a rise in the Federal minimum wage, based on her vote against the Kennedy Amendment, which you insist on referring to as a "bill". Neither contention is accurate, and I can't help but suspect that the latter inaccuracy is an attempt to support the former. As Senator Kerry discovered to his cost last year, the voting public is usually unaware of (and uninterested in) the minutiae of Senatorial procedure, but that uninterest and misunderstanding can only be fostered by articles such as the one you chose to run, and for that reason, I feel compelled to contend the point.
Senator Snowe supports the Bankruptcy bill, and opposed an attempt by Senator Kennedy to kill that legislation by way of an attatchment which would provoke the bill's demise in the House of Representatives. If the amendment had passed, the bill would have died in the House - great for the bill's opponents, not so great for the bill's supporters, and in neither instance would the minimum wage have risen. The extremely relevant question that your editorial fails to ask is, if Senator Kennedy's intent was to raise the minimum wage, why was his attempt to do so presented as an amendment to a hugely controversial and complex piece of legislation, rather than a bill of its own?
Senator Kennedy is an extraordinarily skilled and experienced politician; unlike his Junior colleague from Massachusetts, he knows and understands that the headline that people will read will be "GOP Senators oppose raise in minimum wage", not "Kennedy attempts to kill bankruptcy legislation through procedural mavouvering". But it is still the latter which is true, not the former. This was not about the minimum wage - it was about the attempt by opponents of the bankruptcy bill to attatch to that legislation a poison pill. No Senator who genuinely supports the bankruptcy bill could vote for Kennedy's amendment - no matter how supportive of the minimum wage they might be when that is the issue at hand.
As a further correction, your editorial states - with heavy inference - that Congress has raised its own pay while declining to raise the minimum wage. It should be noted that Senator Snowe opposed the Congressional pay raise in 2002 and 2003, while also voting to return money to the taxpayers in supporting the President's tax cuts. More information on this latter point can be found on the website of the National Taxpayer's Union: http://www.ntu.org/main/press.php?PressID=350
A website located here lists American politicians they argue are engaging in nepotism. Sen. Snowe and her husband Jock McKernan are included, and since the page admins had a link to send them corrections and additions, I sent them the below.
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"Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), is the wife John R. McKernan Jr. who was Maine governor"
McKernan became governor of Maine in 1987, two years prior to wedding then US Rep. Snowe. Back in the early 1970s, Snowe and McKernan both joined the Maine House of Representatives before their paths diverged in 1976: Snowe joined the Maine Senate, McKernan entered private legal practise. Snowe was elected to the US House in '78; McKernan was elected to the US House in '82. McKernan left the House to be elected governor of Maine in '86, while Snowe remained in the House until her 1994 election to the Senate.
But for the 17th amendment, the charge of nepotism of a Senator being married to a Governor might have carried more weight!
While both Snowe and McKernan are successfull politicians, and while they happen to be married to each other, both have achieved their electoral successes on their own merits; I therefore don't think that it's accurate to include them in this list.
It's pissy and petty, I know, but I had thirty seconds and I like correcting obvious errors, so what the heck.
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What distinguishes the Club for Growth from other pro-GOP groups is that it will target Republican incumbents for defeat if the club deems these incumbents insufficiently committed to cutting taxes. ...The Club for Growth also posts the names of those it deems RINOs when they vote to support pathetically outdated concepts like overtime pay for workers. Grrr!
This is not the way most Republican leaders in Congress and in the White House like to do business—or at least not the way these leaders say they like to do business. But Stephen Moore, the Club for Growth's president, says he doesn't care what Republican leaders say. "[P]oliticians are cowards," he told the New York Times Magazine's Matt Bai last year. "We say we're going to run someone against them, and they start wetting their pants." Grrr!
Obviously it does the Club for Growth's pit-bull reputation no good if it spends $2.3 million to defeat [Penn. Senator Arlen] Specter and then fails to get its man. Indeed, after Specter won re-election, I found myself wondering how many RINOs the Club for Growth had chased out of Congress in the past? "They've never defeated an incumbent," answered Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a pro-moderate PAC that tangles constantly with the Club for Growth. "The closest they came was Arlen Specter."
The Club for Growth got a lot of publicity in 2000 when it targeted Rep. Marge Roukema, a Republican moderate from New Jersey. Her primary challenger came close to beating her, but in the end, Roukema won. The club targeted Republican moderate Wayne Gilchrist in 2002, but in the end, Gilchrist won. (After the primary, the club gave Gilchrist $250 so it could claim him as one of that year's "victories.") The club thought about targeting Sen. John McCain this year but couldn't find a Republican challenger serious enough to give money to. And so on.
When you get past Moore's bluster, the Club for Growth really isn't all that interested in taking on Republican incumbents. "Our view is the best strategy on RINOs is not to have them elected in the first place," says David Keating, the group's executive director. In practice that means that the Club for Growth, like most political givers, prefers to fund candidates competing for an open seat, where there's no incumbent advantage to overcome. RINOs may [arguably] be dying out, but the Club for Growth has done nothing to thin the herd.
I wanted to do a more personal post - this is going to get incorporated into the web site's FAQ at a later date, but after Fireblade's points that I quoted 03-02-05, I wanted to clarify in this place why a pro-life republican like me is supporting someone who calls herself pro-choice.
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This is reproduced almost verbatim from comments I made to the Bangor Daily News' Jeff Tuttle when he interviewed me for his Bangor Daily News story on Snowe08.
There are a handfull of areas where I disagree with the Senator (and I speak here for my own views, not for the campaign); the most obvious and pertinent one is abortion, and I think that this is an issue that may rankle other people too. I would describe myself as pro-life; Sen. Snowe would describe herself as pro-choice. Well, you'd think that that would be the end of the story, in today's intransigent political climate, but it isn't and can't be - these labels are just words, and it's RESULTS, not labels, that matters. Senator Snowe's record clearly indicates that even if she wants abortion to remain legal, she also wants to reduce the rate of abortion, to offer women better choices, she has offered legislation to that effect repeatedly, and I can sign on to that policy in a heartbeat. No-one who is pro-life - rather than just anti-abortion - should refuse to work with any takers to reduce the rate of abortion, even if we disagree on what the final endpoint of that policy is.
Senator Snowe said a couple of years back - not about this issue, but about RX drugs - that "we have the opportunity either to use this issue to play politics or to pass policy"; it seems to me that instead of playing politics, holding out for all-or-nothing legislation, we should be working together to pass policy on things we all agree on: offering women better options - be that sex education, adoption or contraception - because *that's* what is going to reduce the rate of abortion; as I read her record on the subject, that's Senator Snowe's goal, it's my goal too, and we'll argue again about whether it should be "legal" once 4000 unborn children a day aren't dying every day that we argue about it.
J.K. Galbaith described politics as a choice "between the disastrous and the merely unpalatable"; we *have* to be willing to compromise, we have to be willing to work with other people of other views, and whatever the undeniable things that President Bush and his acolytes bring to the party - and they do bring a lot of important, valuable things to the GOP - co-operation, compromise and bipartisanship are not things that I think are in their lexicon."
It's from the other side, but still valid - numbers aren't partisan.
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"Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa said Wednesday that Congress should focus on the solvency of Social Security rather than the president's plan to create personal investment accounts for younger workers." [Des Moines Register, 03/03/05]
"But critics, including most Democrats and some Republicans, say Bush's plan is too risky. Republican Chair of the House Subcommittee on Social Security Jim] McCrery backs the idea of personal accounts but doesn't support creating them by diverting money that's now paid into Social Security. He has suggested the president "take the path that's less politically troublesome." [Shreveport Times, 03/03/05]
"Just in the mail count collectively over the last months, particularly since the President proposed personal savings accounts and the discussion that has ensued in the public domain, more than forty five hundred letters and phone calls in opposition to the plan and only about one hundred and sixteen in favor. So I think that ultimately all of these issues need to be clarified and worked through, and I think it is going to take a much longer process than any one has envisioned." [Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on NPR's Morning Edition, 3/3/05]
"Rep. Jim Kolbe, an Arizona Republican who has been working to carve private accounts from Social Security for more than a decade, said, 'You're not going to get conservatives to agree to add-ons.'" [Wall Street Journal, 3/3/05]
"A Westhill/Hotline poll shows that 61% of registered voters disapprove of the way Pres. Bush is handing Social Security, an increase of 9% since 2/1." [Hotline Wake-Up Call, 03/03/05]
"On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea … The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits." [New York Times, 03/03/05]
"Fewer than half, 46 percent, in a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, said they support the plan to allow younger workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes in stocks and bonds — down from 54 percent who supported that plan in December." [AP, 03/02/05]
Let's take a moment to remind ourselves: who were the first two Republicans in this Congress to pour cold water on this idea? Olympia Snowe and Bill Thomas. Seems to me that they're the ones in line with public opinion, no matter how much the President tries to paint them as obstructionist (which, in due course, he will), and no matter how many times Sen. Frist vascillates (following on from the news items we posted 2/13/05, regarding a sudden skepticism, the Majority Leader appears to have jumped back in line with the White House in the last few days).
Meanwhile, in the South wing, Speaker Hastert has cannily thrown the matter to the Senate, telling journalists "It wouldn’t do us any good if we pass a bill and the Senate doesn’t". In other words, until a bill gets out of the Senate, the House isn't going to touch it. This is a smart move by the Speaker, because it practically guarantees that no matter what the outcome of Social Security reform, his hands are going to be kept clean. Denny Hastert may wield the Speaker's power more quietly than his predecessor, Newt Gingrich, but you can't doubt the skill and effectiveness with which he does so.
I love these quotes from the Republican Main Street Partnership":
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"I want the record to show that I do not view the new revitalized Republican Party as one based on a principle of exclusion. After all, you do not get to be a majority party by searching for groups you won't associate or work with." -Ronald Reagan
"It's impossible to create a right-only majority in America. The key to electing Republicans to more offices and have a bigger majority is to be more inclusive." -Newt Gingrich
Incidentally, is it just me, or have RMSP just radically altered their website design in the last week?
Also, this one from a user on the Languish forum we linked to yesterday:
"When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye." -Barry Goldwater, 1994