Expose The Obstructionists

Americans elected a new Congress to get things done. But the conservative minority has chosen a strategy of obstruction in the Senate. They have used the threat of a filibuster to delay or block virtually every major initiative.

Bills with majority support--raising the minimum wage, ethics reform, a date to remove troops from Iraq, revoking oil subsidies and putting the money into renewable energy, fulfilling the 9/11 commission recommendations on homeland security--get blocked because they can't garner 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

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The Gipper Can't Pull This One Out

Rock. Hard Place. That's where the Republican presidential contenders find themselves as they gather for their first debate Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, California. The vast majority of Americans have given up on George Bush. But the die-hards supporting him are loyal Republican primary voters that no Republican candidate dares to offend.

How can the contenders distance themselves from Bush's failures without alienating their own base? Expect them to invoke the conservative icon Ronald Reagan early and often. They'll call for a return to the faith, pledge to follow in the footsteps of the Gipper and promise a new "Morning in America."

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State Of The Union: Deteriorating

Tomorrow night, President Bush will tell Americans that the state of our union is strong. He'll celebrate a growing economy, enjoying rising productivity, rising profits, more jobs and record home ownership. He'll stand as commander in chief of the most powerful military ever. He'll lay out areas--energy, immigration, health care--where he envisions progress through bipartisan cooperation.

What he won't do is level with Americans. In reality, America's condition is deteriorating rapidly. We're like a world-class athlete who has let himself go in middle age. Muscle is turning to flab; arteries are clogged, reflexes slowed. The body is not only more vulnerable to garden-variety ailments, it is susceptible to what might be crippling strokes.

An extreme metaphor? Consider the following realities that the president is unlikely to call to the nation's attention.

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Passion or Positioning

Robin Toner has front page analysis in Times today on how Dems are seeking the "middle on social issues." 
Most of this is common sense.  Dems will control agenda in House and use that to block votes on issues like gay marriage or partial birth abortion that force a conflict between their principles and the majority of Americans.  They'll focus - if they have any sense at all - on bread and butter, kitchen table issues, and take on entrenched corporate interests like Big Pharma for Americans.  They'll put their faith and values on display.  

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The Signature 2006 Race: Sherrod Brown over Mike DeWine in Ohio Senate Race

Democrats gained up and down the ballot in 2006, from the Senate to state legislatures.  The races for the US House and Senate were remarkably nationalized, with over half of voters saying they wanted to send a message.  The White House largely succeeded rallying Republican and self-described conservative voters around the threat of taxes and terror.  But for Democrats and independents, concern about Iraq, the economy, and corruption produced winning margins.

The signature race - and the one with the largest lessons for Democrats across the country - came in Senate race in Ohio, the bellweather swing state that gave Bush his re-election in 2004.  It featured two strong candidates who ran very tough, and well funded races.

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