The Friends of Blanche Lincoln

Apparently the Friends of Blanche Lincoln include Barack Obama. Bitterly disappointing.

Then again Bill Clinton too has jumped to Blanche's aid.

Poor Blanche, Stuck in the Middle with No One

Shaila Dewan of the New York Times has opted to throw Senator Blanche Lincoln a pity party bemoaning her primary challenge from Lt. Governor Bill Halter as well as the various Republicans lining to challenge her should she win the May 18th primary.

In a state where voters are known for valuing personal relationships over ideology, Mrs. Lincoln, a moderate Democrat, is in trouble even here in her own hometown, among those who attended high school with her or went hunting with her father. And her tenuous position shows just how dangerous a place the political middle has become.

Caught in a surge of antigovernment sentiment, Mrs. Lincoln has been blasted by conservatives for allowing health care legislation to proceed, and has already attracted a slate of potential Republican challengers. At the same time, in a state with a more centrist tradition than most others in the South, she has become a target of the left for opposing a government-run public health care option, easier organizing rules for unions and regulation to fight global warming.

Not only do polls show her behind several of the Republicans, she now also faces a challenger in the May 18 Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who has been championed by national liberal groups that have pledged to spend millions of dollars to fight her.

“I am the rope in the tug of war, folks,” Mrs. Lincoln told supporters in Little Rock last week.

It's hard to have much sympathy for Blanche the bland. It's a sad testament to the state of the nation's politics if the definition of moderate is Blanche Lincoln. The liberal advocacy group MoveOn noted that Senator Lincoln  is “one of the worst corporate Democrats in Washington,” saying that she had taken $866,000 from insurance companies and over $1 million from Wall Street firms.

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One Childish Ad

I'm not quite sure what Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas was thinking when she commissioned this ad billing herself as "one tough lady" casting herself as if she were the sole adult in a Congress of children. Whatever her motives, it is fair to suggest that Senator Lincoln is not exactly contributing to a dignified image of the Senate among her constituents given her portrayal of the Democratic-led Senate as a kindergarten.

In the 30 second spot, the first of her re-election campaign, she touts her opposition to the TARP, the auto industry rescue, the public option and the cap-and trade energy bill.

"This is why I voted against giving more money to Wall Street, against the auto company bailout, against the public option health care plan, and against the cap and trade bill that would have increased energy costs for Arkansans," Senator Lincoln informs us. "None of those were right for Arkansas. Some in my party didn't like it very much. But I approve this message because I don't answer to my party. I answer to Arkansas."

By Arkansas, she meant Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods. And while Senator Lincoln is opposed to bailouts, she is quite the fan of agricultural subsidies. During her tenure in the Senate, this subsidy queen has helped secure $4.7 billion in subsidies to the Arkansas rice industry. One company alone, Ricelands Foods, has been the recipient of US agricultural subsidies totaling more than a half a billion dollars between 1999 and 2007. In 2002, the $110 million received by Riceland Foods that year was more than Washington gave to every farmer in 12 other states combined. Blanche Lincoln not so good for the citizens of Arkansas but great for corporate Arkansas.

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The Right Wing Machine in Full Gear

Here are just a few of the attacks emanating from the right wing noise machine that are running across the country in their all out war to derail healthcare reform.

Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas

This is both a radio spot running in Arkansas and web-only ad running on numerous Christian and right-wing websites. The spot was produced by the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List. It's a sixty second spot. The group is headed by Majorie Dannenfelser and is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Though the organization purports to elect more pro-life women to Congress, close to half of the candidates endorsed by the SBA List Candidate Fund in recent campaigns appear to have been pro-life men according to Sourcewatch.

Senator Bob Casey, Jr of Pennsylvania

This is a sixty second spot targeting Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey. Like the spot attacking Senator Lincoln, this ad is produced by the Susan B. Anthony List and focuses on the abortion funding. It is titled Who Shall Live. The irony that sixty Americans die on average every day for lack of health insurance is seemingly lost.

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska

This is a 30 second television spot running in Nebraska is from the American Future Fund. According to Sourcewatch, the American Future Fund was founded by long-time Republican operatives Alex N. Vogel and his wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, who together run the consulting agency Holtzman Vogel. The couple is joined by Republican pollster Jan Van Lohuizen, who previously worked for George W. Bush. The group's former president is Nicole Schlinger, the former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party. Its current president is Sandra Greiner, a former Iowa state legislator and is an Iowa farmer. The group advocates conservative free market ideals.

Senator Kent Conrad and Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota

This one minute radio spot, also from the American Future Fund, was released December 16th. It hits North Dakota Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan over the proposed Medicare cuts. The Senate health care reform bill would cut almost $500 billion from Medicare, including $118 billion from Medicare Advantage plans that provide vision, hearing and dental coverage for seniors. But as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has noted "those who are saying it's cutting their benefits are lying."

"Under Medicare Advantage, the insurance companies get $4 in profits for every $1 in extra benefits a senior receives," Senator Gillibrand said. "So what we are trying to do is get rid of loopholes and get rid of waste, fraud and abuse within Medicare. That's what these changes are about. No benefits to seniors will be cut."

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Following the Money

Curious that the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee that receive the most money from the healthcare and insurance industries are also the ones that voted no on the Rockefeller and Schumer amendments. From Politicus USA:

The two largest industries in terms of contributions to Finance Committee are the Health, and Insurance industries. According to Open Secrets, the healthcare industry gave $7 million in PAC contributions to committee members. Not to be outdone, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries also gave $7 million to the committee.

Committee chairman Max Baucus has taken $1.1 million each from the health and insurance industries. The two largest contributors to Tom Carper of Delaware for 2010 have been the health and insurance sectors. The same holds true for Kent Conrad. The top donor for 2010 to Blanche Lincoln was the healthcare industry. The insurance industry has given $1.5 million to Bill Nelson for the 2010 cycle.

The Open Secrets data is current as of August 29, 2009.

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