Challenging Snowe

Lately we have seen Senator Snowe's moderate posture dwindle as she becomes more aggressive in fighting the public option.  There's talk that it's because she's facing pressure from the Republican leadership.  I say rather than try to reason with them, let's apply a bit of pressure of our own. Pressure in the form of a Challenger for her seat in 2012

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The big banks and progressives

I continue to be amazed at how oblivious Obama/Axlerod/Gibbs etc are to the rise of populism and how they have positioned Democrats on the wrong side:

I was startled last week when Mr. Obama, in an interview with Bloomberg News, questioned the case for limiting financial-sector pay: "Why is it," he asked, "that we're going to cap executive compensation for Wall Street bankers but not Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or N.F.L. football players?"

That's an astonishing remark -- and not just because the National Football League does, in fact, have pay caps. Tech firms don't crash the whole world's operating system when they go bankrupt; quarterbacks who make too many risky passes don't have to be rescued with hundred-billion-dollar bailouts. Banking is a special case -- and the president is surely smart enough to know that.

All I can think is that this was another example of something we've seen before: Mr. Obama's visceral reluctance to engage in anything that resembles populist rhetoric. And that's something he needs to get over.

It's not just that taking a populist stance on bankers' pay is good politics -- although it is: the administration has suffered more than it seems to realize from the perception that it's giving taxpayers' hard-earned money away to Wall Street, and it should welcome the chance to portray the G.O.P. as the party of obscene bonuses.

Equally important, in this case populism is good economics. Indeed, you can make the case that reforming bankers' compensation is the single best thing we can do to prevent another financial crisis a few years down the road.

It's time for the president to realize that sometimes populism, especially populism that makes bankers angry, is exactly what the economy needs.

Now, saying "the wrong side" may need some explanation. One of the election periods I've read a few books on is the 1888-1900 period. It's a fascinating period of political swings that makes one want to view it alongside similarities with this current twelve-year era (2000-2012).

McKinley won alongside the banks.

Obama has always been "the financials" darling. iirc, it was this segment that was his single biggest campaign contributor. His economic team is is heavily weighted to Wall Street, especially GS.

Now, Democrats and Republicans heavily backed the Fed handing over free money to the banks.

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Huckabee Wins Values Voter Straw Poll

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the first choice of participants in a straw poll held today at the Values Voter Summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who finished second in total delegates in the GOP nomination contest last year, took 28 percent in the straw poll easily outpacing the other presumed contenders for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Second place was effectively a four-way tie between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2008 finishing third; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee; and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence. Each of these received between between 12.4 and 11.9 percent of the vote.

Rounding out the field were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the favorite of 6.7 percent of straw poll voters; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at 4.7 percent; former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 2.5 percent; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, with just 2.2 percent.

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Who will be a survivor in 2012?

As others have observed, President Obama's wise appointment of the highly qualified Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, as our ambassador to China may well have removed from contention a leading candidate for the 2o12 Republican presidential nomination. This follows his wise selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, thus probably eliminating this strong member of his team of rivals from the 2012 election. Perhaps unrelated is the news today that former President Bill Clinton has been named by the UN as special envoy to Haiti.

So what's next? Governor Bobby Jindal as ambassador to India. Florida Governor Charlie Crist (Spanish speaking?) as ambassador to Mexico?


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Are Some Top Republicans Conceding Obama's Second Term?

Any list of potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidates can be broken down into the die-hard wingnuts & wingnut-wannabes (Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Mark Sanford, Mitt Romney) and the relatively ("relatively" being, well, a relative term) moderate Republicans (Charlie Crist, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty).

The wingnuts are going full-wingnut, especially since the tea parties.  But a funny thing happened to the relative moderates on the list.  Maybe it's the right-wing purification the GOP has lately undergone, but it looks like the relative moderates are conceding that President Obama will win a second term, and are instead focused on preparing for 2016.  (Perhaps, seeing the Republican Party's unabated hard drift further to the right in the wake of Election Day '08, the relative moderates have also given up on someone who is not a wingnut winning the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012, which also effectively cedes a second term to President Obama.)  Just look at the events of the last week.

Charlie Crist, who had voiced emphatic support for President Obama's economic stimulus bill, opted to run for Senate out of Florida in 2010 rather than re-election to the Governor's office.  In addition to allowing Crist to eject himself from the budget ditch into which he has driven Florida's state economy, this allows Crist to build his national portfolio.  And, oh, by the way, should Crist win the Senate seat, his term would expire in 2016.

Jon Huntsman Jr., who governed conservative Utah but voiced support for not-so-right-wing-friendly policies like same-sex civil unions, has seen his name included more frequently in these discussions of potential Republican Presidental candidates.  Just a few days ago, though, he went from potential Obama opponent to Obama employee effectively as he accepted President Obama's nomination to serve as Ambassador to China.  After establishing his domestic executive resume as Governor of Utah, Huntsman can now shore up his international affairs bona fides in one of the most critically important roles in our nation's diplomatic corps.  As it's unlikely that Huntsman would serve in the Obama Administration for a short period of time and then turn around and run against him in 2012, it seems more likely that he is setting himself up for 2016, seeing President Obama as "too popular to fail" in 2012.

Tim Pawlenty was given an opportunity to earn some post-partisan cred by serving as a moderating force against Norm Coleman's endless appeals in MN-Sen.  Pawlenty could have shown some spine regarding the seating of Senator-elect Al Franken, perhaps urging Coleman to concede should he lose his appeal before the state Supreme Court so that Minnesota could again enjoy its full Senate delegation.  Rather, Pawlenty provided only wishy-washy answers in order to stay in the far-right-wing's good graces, possibly seeking the political table scraps of again being mentioned as a possible running mate in 2012, thereby surrendering membership in this club.

With Obama-Biden ostensibly set to be the Democratic ticket in 2012, and with Vice President Biden turning 74 in 2016 (making a Biden Presidential candidacy in 2016 less than guaranteed), there is no clear Democratic favorite in 2016.  By taking steps that both work with the Obama Administration and likely take themselves out of the 2012 sweepstakes (in which the GOP will likely go further right than any time in recent memory), Crist and Huntsman as setting themselves up to be the post-partisan successor to President Obama in 2016.  Such moves effectively concede that Crist and Huntsman expect President Obama to win a second term and Republicans' further-rightward pull to fail in 2012.

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