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Monday, July 9, 2007

On the Campaign Trail - Iraq Causing Problems for Leaders of Both Parties

It looks like leadership puts a "bull's-eye" on your back.

In the Senate, USA Today has a story about Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's troubles back home. The two most divisive issues - Iraq and immigration have got poor Mitch in a vise and, despite a campaign account with over $2.7 million, Democrats see him as vulnerable:


The local congressman, Rep. Ed Whitfield, is a Republican and a McConnell ally, but he doesn't dispute the forecast. "All of us on the Republican side do have concerns about the political climate next year," Whitfield said.
McConnell denies that he's worried, but there are signs that he's moving to protect his political flanks:
•Two weeks ago, after helping to shepherd the president's immigration bill through several tough fights on the Senate floor, he helped kill the legislation by voting against it.
Conservatives took credit for changing the senator's mind. "If he had voted for that legislation, his position would have been in danger," said Leland Conway, a Lexington radio talk-show host and blogger.
•Last week, McConnell qualified his defense of Bush's war policy. He said the president should be allowed to commit additional troops to Iraq but added, "People are running out of patience — with good reason."
Compounding McConnell's problems is the reelection campaign of ethically challenged GOP Gov Ernie Fletcher, who won the party nomination despite McConnell's public endorsement of his primary opponent. The results were viewed as evidence of McConnell's declining influence back home - and the rift caused Fletcher and his supporters to vow revenge. Local blog, "Ditch Mitch" has daily political news from the Bluegrass State.

War protester Cindy Sheehan made news this weekend by threatening to move to the City by the Bay and challenge Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she doesn't impeach President Bush within the next two weeks. Now, I don't think this is a smart strategy for a number of reasons. Let me say I respect Cindy Sheehan's position - and cannot begin to comprehend the loss she has experienced as a result of this immoral war. The WaPo reports:


"Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership," Sheehan said. "We hired them to bring an end to the war."
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the congresswoman has said repeatedly that her focus is on ending the war in Iraq.


Daly is right. And, Sheehan needs to understand that Pelosi is NOT the enemy, and by focusing on her and the Democrats, she undercuts the movement she has worked so hard to build. As a citizen in Pelosi's district, I don't believe Sheehan can mount a credible challenge to the Speaker. And, if she can't win in San Francisco, the war's supporters will point to her defeat and say, "See, even in liberal San Francisco, Sheehan's anti-war position is too far left." It might be smarter for her to run against a war supporter and see how the voters in a district there respond to her message. No one would expect her to win, but if she got a respectable (over 40% of the vote) it would be a HUGE victory.

Pelosi has been consistently against the war. Her pragmatic approach to the political realities have certainly been frustrating - and her hesitancy to directly confront the Bush/Cheney assault on our Constitution has been more than disappointing. In the aftermath of the Libby Liberation, I think it's time to at least put "impeachment" back on the table.

But, I don't think Cindy running is a good idea.

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