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21
Sometimes Democrats are too logical. They forget that communication is mostly emotional.
 
Like health care “death panels.” Democrats need to get off the defensive and turn the issue into political death for Republicans.
 
A Harvard Medical School study says 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have insurance.
 
People will gladly take reform – shoot, they’ll take government-run health care – if they think it’s the difference between life and death.
 
President Obama got close when he said people shouldn’t have to go broke because they get sick.
 
Democrats need to go farther: You shouldn’t have to get sick and die because you can’t afford insurance.

 

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16
Imagine that the shoe was on the other foot – or the shout came from the other side of the aisle.
 
Imagine this: President Bush gives a speech about reforming Social Security. He says we should adopt a partial privatization plan. And he vows that no older American will lose any of their Social Security as a result.
 
Imagine that, say, Mel Watt or G.K. Butterfield or Jim Clyburn – or any black congressman – shouts out: “You lie!”
 
Imagine what Fox News, Crazy Joe Wilson and Rush Limbaugh would say then.

 

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16
My son James has an intriguing theory about Barack Obama’s September Slumps.   Candidate Obama had one last year. John McCain’s choice of Sarah...

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15

Hardly a Democrat has a doubt the Internet has become a force majeure in politics; and if any Republican had any doubts take a look at what’s happened to Representative Joe Wilson.

Congressman Wilson was cruising to reelection in a Republican District when he called out, “You lie!” on national TV – then overnight a million dollars sailed through the ether and landed in his opponent’s inbox.
 
One day Wilson’s crusin,’ the next he’s in a fight for his political life.
 
The Democrats fully funded an entire Congressional Race – in a Republican District – overnight.
 
Then Wilson did his own Internet video and voilà – he raises a million too.
 
And consider this: 20,000 people just gave Wilson’s opponent a million dollars but that’s not the end of it. How many more millions will those same people give between now and the election? You can bet Wilson’s opponent will be emailing them every time another shoe drops – so it could be two, three or four million before all’s said and done.

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14
There’s plenty of hot news lately.
 
Iran’s close to building a bomb.
 
ACORN operatives got caught on film trying to figure out how to bring young girls from Honduras to Baltimore for what sounded a lot like a prostitution ring.
 
And the Republican National Committees are going all out to elect a Republican who’s for gay marriage to Congress in a Special Election in New York. (If you think that makes sense consider this – the district’s not in Greenwich Village it’s in the Adirondack Mountains and there are 60,000 more Republicans in it than Democrats.)
 
Closer to home Secretary of State Elaine Marshall’s taking on Senator Richard Burr. Generally, things are looking up for Burr (except he’s got poll numbers worse than Elizabeth Dole’s). Burr’s lucky enough to be running in what’s beginning to look like a fine year for Republicans; after voting for the bailouts he may cruise to victory because folks are mad at Democrats.
 
But don’t underestimate Elaine Marshall: She lost in the Senate primary in 2002 – but her only problem was she didn’t have money and the Democrats will take care of that when they give Burr the Liddy Dole treatment.
 
Beyond that, the nutty President of Iran may be about to make us forget about health care and the economy. Wednesday the United States envoy to the UN’s Atomic Energy Agency announced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ‘is close to having the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.’  If he doesn’t fess-up and stop the UN’s going to whoop him with double, triple, super-sanctions. On top of the three sets of sanctions Ahmadinejad’s ignored.
 
Finally, Governor Perdue’s popularity is still at rock bottom. But she’s got a solution: She’s taking an $80,000 junket to China .

 

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11
Never underestimate a President who can talk eloquently about moral issues.
 
It’s easy to forget that. We haven’t had a President who could do it for 20 years – since Ronald Reagan left the White House.
 
The Bushes could hardly put together a coherent sentence. Yes, Bill Clinton could talk a blue streak. But moral issues, not so much.
 
With one speech – and a two-word outburst by Crazy Joe Wilson – President Obama neatly changed the health-care reform game. He took the initiative and put the Republicans on the defensive.
 
Of course, the Democrats in Congress are perfectly capable of squandering the lead Obama gave them.
 
But, as Carter said in his blog, you have to admire a politician who masters the bully pulpit the way Obama did.
 
Once again, the Republicans underestimated him – just as Democrats did Reagan.
 
Here’s hoping Wilson & Co. keep it up.
 

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03
One of the many brilliant (that means “Democratic”) readers of this blog has offered what could be a spot-on analysis of Obama’s new strategy on health care. I share it with you in full:
 
“He has leaned back and relaxed and let Mitch McConnell and the screaming chorus shout and work themselves into a lather over imaginary provisions of plans he will never offer. After playing rope a dope like Ali and letting the congressional Republicans demonstrate their utter partisanship and unwillingness to join in any health care reform, he will now bring forward a reasonable plan that he will say was what he and Olympia Snow were working on together from the start. Then the Republicans who jump him will be clearly labeled as obstructionists. It may not work but it's great strategy.”
 

 

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24
Bill Friday surprised me in our UNC-TV interview when he asked me about the most remarkable characters I’ve met in politics.
 
So I’ve given it more thought. I’ve come down to two people I met during Governor Hunt’s 1984 campaign against Jesse Helms.
 
At different times that year, our campaign was advised by two of the oddest characters in the history of American politics: James Carville and Dick Morris.
 
Carville, who was working on a Senate race in Texas, was unknown then. Will Marshall, our press secretary, had worked with him in a Senate race in Virginia the year before. Carville flew in to Raleigh a couple of times during the spring and met with us.
 
Spending time with Carville is like being thrown into a Mixmaster. He’s just as jerky, hyperactive, imaginative and funny as he is on TV. Except you can’t turn him off. You’re exhausted after a couple of hours.
 
In 1984, Morris was still – officially – a Democrat. He was brought in by the late David Sawyer, our media consultant, in October. We were desperate. Sawyer thought Morris might have some ideas. He had a good one: Attack Helms on abortion. Tell voters, especially women, that Helms opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest. And would even outlaw birth control.
 
It was too radical for our campaign. Later, I found out from Carter that Morris was right. It was the one magic bullet that might have turned the campaign around. The Helms campaign always wondered why we backed off.
 
Everybody in our campaign loved Carville. Morris, not so much. After he left, one campaign aide said she felt like she needed a shower.
 

 

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19
First President Obama retreated under Sarah Palin’s “death panel” attack.
 
The Great Communicator couldn’t communicate how ludicrous the attack was. The provision actually was proposed by a Republican. It would have reimbursed doctors who advised patients about leaving instructions for how they want their end-of-life decisions made. Something everybody should do. It spares families much agony and expense.
 
But that provision was never at the heart of health-care reform
 
The “public option” is. And Obama seems to be wavering even there.
 
Big mistake.
 
When you’re in a big fight, you need a big idea to fight for. The public option is clear, simple and one of the few understandable reforms provisions in the reform bills.
 
Plus, it motivates Obama’s supporters.
 
It’s the fight he should want. If he ducks it, he’ll regret it.
 

 

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18
Gene Robinson, the respected Washington Post columnist, got the blues the other day, so, to lift his spirits, he kicked Dick Cheney – ripping into ole Cheney for being a torturer, the father of black-ops prisons and generally making him out to be the worst villain of the Third Millennium.
 
All that led me to a pretty strange place:  The next thing I knew I was remembering the old classic Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – where an idealistic young lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) and a cowboy (John Wayne) both come face to face with the old-West’s version of a terrorist (Lee Marvin)  and have two different ideas about how to deal with him.
 
Jimmy Stewart sets out to whip Lee Marvin by waving a law book at him – and it lands him in a whale of a mess. But just before Lee Marvin shoots Stewart stone cold dead in the street, John Wayne (without a speck of idealism) ambushes Marvin out of a black alley, shooting him stone cold dead.
 
Now, Jimmy Stewart’s idealism is quintessentially American. But John Wayne’s cold blooded murder of the villain is pretty appealing too.
 
But, try as he might, Mr. Robinson just can’t see that side of the equation at all. To him anyone who acts like John Wayne (by dispensing with the niceties of the rule of law in dealing with a rat) is, purely and simply, lower than pond scum. In a way, he has a point – shooting someone out of a back alley isn’t a pleasant deed and, on top of that, it involves a passage into a moral twilight zone.
 
But is Robinson right? He and Jimmy Stewart seem determined to deal with our current villains (terrorists) and, at the same time, uphold the niceties of the rule of law and order – while Dick Cheney (and John Wayne) seem to think that’s fine in theory but in the real world it’s no way to deal with a mean varmint with a gun aimed at you.
 
I’m not sure there is a satisfactory answer. But consider this: Watch a rerun of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – then try to explain how it would have had a happy ending if John Wayne hadn’t shot the villain.

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