Wednesday Morning Update
Several short items for your perusal this morning:
William Saletan in Slate yesterday had a summary of Monday's Iowa debate amongst the Democratic candidates. He states that: 1) Dean still has an effective response against Kerry’s claim of foreign policy superiority (Senator, we’ll need a better retort to Dean if you’re going to keep making a valid point like that); 2) Kerry looks and sounds better on the stump than he has before; 3) Democrats need something better to say about the Medicare bill than “no”; 4) Dean does a better job now explaining the point he was trying to get at with the regrettable “confederate flags” comment; 5) but Dean is bungling the new charges about how he medically was unable to go to Vietnam by falsely impugning the service of other Democrats during that time; and 6) Clark had a good, understated day.
Timothy Noah, also in Slate, makes the point that Kerry seems to be in conflict with himself over how to attack both Dean’s position on Medicare, and the Medicare bill itself. I have to agree with Noah on this one. There is obvious political benefit to trying to label Dean a “Medicare cutter”, but it conflicts with Kerry’s own valid position about the need to control costs. My advice: stop going after Dean on this point, let Gephardt and others do it, and return to the most valid and defensible criticism of the Medicare bill, which is that for the sake of campaign contributions to the GOP, the bill does nothing to allow the government to control drug costs for the next seven years while possibly forcing seniors into worse coverage than they have now. Plus the bill isn’t going down well with seniors anyway, no matter what the AARP or Karl Rove say. And as Anne Applebaum this morning seems to infer in the Post, no one should claim victory here until we can figure out what the GOP just did and whether it will actually improve anyone’s lives prior to November 2004. So the smart play for Kerry is to continue to lambaste the measure for its lack of cost containment, its giveaway to corporate America, and to hold Bush and the GOP accountable for making the lives of seniors better with this bill before November 2004. After all, it was the GOP that waited until yesterday to deliver this after being in control for several years, let them be held accountable now for whether or not it cuts seniors’ drug costs between now and next November. There is a way for the Democrats to still use this issue against the GOP and Bush next year if they get off of this simple "no" approach, and it centers on these issues of cost containment and GOP accountability for improving the lives of seniors now before November 2004. This will keep Rove from claiming credit next year.
Will Katherine Harris be the best weapon the Democrats could wish for in their attempts to compete for Florida’s electoral votes next year, besides the Medicare bill’s failings?