11/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Friday Talking Points [51] -- Some Positivity

While we're all waiting for someone to leak the Palin Troopergate Report (which is reminiscent of waiting for "Fitzmas" during the whole Scooter Libby fiasco), let us take a brief look at the presidential race.

Things are getting pretty nasty out on the McCain campaign trail, it seems. Not much talk of "reaching across the aisle" these days. Now, while anyone with a halfway-decent brain saw this coming, this obviously doesn't include most of the mainstream media. Of course the end of the campaign was going to be nasty. Of course McCain and his minions were going to throw everything they could at Obama. Barack Obama himself knew this was coming. Democrats should have known it was coming. It's the old story of the scorpion and the frog -- McCain is getting nasty because he's a Republican candidate for president. "I'm a Republican, it's my nature," in other words.

Now, if that unfairly slanders some Republican candidates for lesser elections than president who eschew such tactics, then I do apologize. But at the top of the ticket, we have seen this type of thing before. Pretty much every four years, I'd say. So it really should come as no surprise to anyone that this is where we find ourselves.

The only difference this time around is that it looks like it's not going to work. And that is absolutely enraging some McCain supporters. From a Washington Post article titled "Anger is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally":

"No, I'm not mad, I'm pissed," said Joan Schmitz, who owns a plumbing company here. She said she was frustrated with polls showing Obama surging, McCain's performance in a Tuesday night debate, Obama himself, the media, and the liberal group ACORN, which she said was registering voters fraudulently.

Noting Obama's connections with Ayers, she said that "if it was a Republican, it would be nonstop," referring to what she said was the media ignoring the controversial acquaintance.

"I can't stand to look at him, I don't trust him. I don't like the circle of friends he keeps, I don't like his policies," Schmitz said of Obama. "I'm pissed off by it. I'm beyond mad. How is he climbing up in the polls?"

And, ironically enough, the madder and more "pissed off" McCain supporters get (especially when they're on national television), the more independent and uncommitted voters are deciding that Obama looks like the better choice.

Republicans are even setting up their own version of what is going to happen on Election Day -- watch for cries soon after that the election was "stolen" from McCain (note that ACORN reference earlier -- read the full article for an explanation).

So in response to Schmitz' question, Obama is climbing in the polls right now because he isn't being a demagogue. While McCain is. Which turns off the people in the middle -- where elections are always won and lost.

In keeping with this theme, and because I felt sorry for awarding the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award last week to the entire Democratic Congressional delegation, I though this week I'd give them a break and use the Talking Points portion of our program to showcase some good things they managed to get done. But first, let's get this week's awards out of the way.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While Henry Waxman was in the running for Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week due to his hearings which grilled some Wall Street fatcats on their fatcattery and fatcatting ways, I noticed that Congress immediately and severely punished them... by handing them an extra $36 billion dollars. So while the hearings were high in sheer entertainment value, the results were not.

No, this week the MIDOTW award has to go once again to Barack Obama. Or, as John McCain likes to call him, "that one." Obama did a good job in the second debate, but more impressive was his astronomical rise in the polls. This really started last week, but shows no sign of abating, and really turned the corner this week. Now, it's a little early to measure the drapes for the Oval Office, but if Obama can just hold on to the gains he made this week, this election is not even going to be close. Of course, any Republican "October Surprise" could turn this right back around, but John McCain looking cranky and angry just isn't going to do it.

He also wins the award for his masterful use of the Keating Five this week. He pulled the gun out of his holster, showed it to McCain, and then slowly put it away again. The newsfolks actually mentioned it for the first time in the entire campaign this week, but Obama (by not driving the point home with a sledgehammer) showed that while he has negative stuff on McCain he doesn't really need to use it at this point. Which, again, appeals to the middle-of-the-road voters.

One more point in Obama's favor was his announcement that he has bought a half-hour chunk of network prime time less than a week before the election to talk directly to the American people. McCain just can't afford a stunt like this, and it could prove to be the most brilliant maneuver in a campaign full of such smart moves.

Barack Obama is indeed the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Well done, Senator Obama!

[Congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his Senate contact page to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Allow me to preview this award with a movie flashback. From the classic film Casablanca:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

In this week's Ultimate Irony Division of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, we have Senator Jay "Rocky IV" Rockefeller, IV, cast in the role of Captain Renault. Rocky IV declared this week that he was shocked -- Shocked! -- to find out the government is abusing the powers he so generously gave them with the various emasculations of FISA, which he had rammed through earlier. I mean, it's not as if the entire lefty blogosphere didn't warn him that ultimate power always ultimately leads to corruption. But Rocky IV takes oodles of money from the telecommunications industry ("your winnings, sir") to pass their pet legislation from the committee he chairs, and now he is going to get to the bottom of all this.

Yeah, right.

I wrote about this yesterday in more detail, but the most amusing line from Rocky IV had to be the following (from ABC News, who broke the story):

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations "extremely disturbing" and said the committee has begun its own examination.

"We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration," Rockefeller said Thursday. "The Committee will take whatever action is necessary."

Um, you'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. This week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is struck in special honor of Jay Rockefeller, IV, who is now the all-time champion winner of the MDDOTW with a reprehensible six wins. This week's special statuette takes the form of a small golden fox wearing a small golden guard's uniform, sitting in front of a tiny golden henhouse.

For shame, Senator Rockefeller, for shame.

[Contact Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 51 (10/10/08)

In the midst of an intense presidential campaign, I can get a little partisan and negative here in the Talking Points at times, so I'd like to take a one-week break and instead spotlight a few good things the 110th Congress actually got done. If you're interested in countering McCain's lies out on the campaign trail, there is always the Democratic Party's Count The Lies website (now a wiki!) to glean talking points from (they're up to 128 as of this writing).

But let's focus on the positive, for one week. Here are Talking Points to show that Democrats have actually gotten some things done in the past two years. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but we should at least acknowledge the achievements they did manage to accomplish.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has a much more exhaustive list of these on her website, if you're interested.



   Minimum Wage Hike

I am at a loss as to why Democrats consistently hide this shining light under a barrel. This was historic, and directly influenced a lot of people's lives, and yet you hear almost nothing about it -- especially on the campaign trail. Which mystifies me. Democrats should beat this drum loud and long, since they deserve credit for it.

"Democrats in Congress raised the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour, where it had been for a decade, to $6.55 an hour today. Next July, it will rise again to $7.25 an hour. Any American worker making minimum wage is seeing their salary improve over forty percent as a result of Democrats fighting Republican obstructionism in Washington. So remember, Democrats put money in your pocket. Democrats gave some of the hardest-working Americans a 40% pay raise. And Republicans didn't want you to have that money, and fought against it."



   New GI Bill

Again, one wonders why this isn't front and center of all Democratic campaigns for all offices. Democrats, led by freshman Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, passed the biggest expansion in benefits for American soldiers of all time. So why aren't they shouting it from the skies, every chance they get? It's a mystery....

"I never want to hear that Democrats don't support the troops ever again from any Republican. Democrats in Congress passed the GI Bill for the 21st Century over loud objections from some Republicans, including John McCain, who called it 'too generous.' You know what? I don't think it's 'too generous' to allow veterans to go to college. I don't think it's 'too generous' to pay a debt to our fighting men and women that can never be truly repaid. Democrats fought hard for the GI Bill, against Republicans up to and including President Bush. But we got it passed, because we consider supporting the troops one of our most sacred duties as elected officials."



   Stimulus Package

OK, I fully admit that passing out free money to taxpayers isn't exactly the boldest thing to do in an election year, but still, people need to be reminded who got this passed.

"Remember that $600 that taxpayers got earlier this year? You can thank Democrats for getting that stimulus package through. Now, obviously, it wasn't really enough, but it was a step in the right direction -- a step that Congressional Republicans fought hard against. Democrats put money in the taxpayer's pocket, Republicans fight such stimulus. That's all you need to know on Election Day."



   Democrats better on energy

Democrats have actually been getting some things done on energy, although once again, you don't hear about it much on the campaign trail. This one has gotten more exposure than some issues, though, because of the price of gas, mostly. But it needs to be pointed out who has a long-term answer to the problem, and who does not.

"Democrats, over the strong objection of President Bush and Congressional Republicans, managed to get some positive things done on energy. Democrats passed the first hike in fuel economy standards for cars and trucks in a generation. Democrats also saved the tax breaks for green energy that are absolutely necessary to move America off foreign oil and create green jobs for the future -- again, over the loud objections of Republicans. Democrats are planning for America's energy future, when the only thing Republicans have to say on the issue is 'drill, baby, drill.' We can free America from Middle Eastern oil, if the Republicans would only follow when Democrats lead on the issue."



   Democrats help Americans pay for college

Education is such a natural issue for Democrats, and Congress actually got quite a few things done on this front. But you wouldn't know it from listening to candidates. Come on, people, this is one of the Democratic Party's strong points! Drive it home!

"Democrats in Congress did everything they could to help Americans afford good education for their children, while all Republicans had to offer was obstructionism and vetoes. Democrats did manage to cut college loan rates in half in the biggest student aid bill in half a century, made sure that the credit crunch didn't affect students needing loans, passed a landmark College Consumer's Bill of Rights which expanded access to college for low-income students and reined in abuses in the student loan industry, and improved the successful Head Start program. If you are a parent who is worried about education costs being too high, there is simply only one party to vote for -- Democrats."



   Health care

Once again, a winning issue for Democrats. Some of these laws actually did get some media coverage, but voters need to be reminded of them out on the campaign trail.

"While Democrats tried to expand health care to 10 million children, sadly President Bush vetoed it and enough Republicans in Congress voted with him to deny these children health care. But Democrats did manage to get some positive bills passed into law, including fighting back against the Bush administration's attempts to gut Medicaid, requiring Medicare to bargain for cheaper prices on drugs by lifting the Republican ban on doing so, and ending discrimination against mental health claims by insurance companies. If you want to fix health care in this country, you need to help us get more Democrats elected so we can do so without Republicans being able to block our efforts."



   Republicans voted against Mother's Day

And finally, one from the archives (from FTP [31], at the very end). I know this was supposed to be all about Democratic victories in Congress, but this one just begs to be repeated by any House Democratic challenger, as many times as possible.

"Republicans have become so obsessed with obstructionism and so blind to the voters' wish that Congress get something done that they actually voted against honoring Mother's Day. This is a disgrace. The Washington Post ran a story about it with the headline: 'Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens.' I mean, what is next? Are the Republicans going to come out against apple pie, too? America deserves better than this. Vote Democratic in 2008. You know why? Because Democrats love their mothers, but apparently 178 House Republicans don't."


Chris Weigant blogs at:

Full archives of FTP columns:

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground