Presidential Democratic

A great Obama moment you won’t see on the highlight reel

Monday, January 7th, 2008

tice.jpgBarack Obama is riding high, largely on a wave of enthusiasm for his charisma, eloquence, and youth and his startling defiance of the race barrier.

Obama embodies “change” — the longing of the season — whichobama2.jpg at its deepest is a yearning for the feeling of change.

When Hillary Clinton keeps emphasizing her superior proven effectiveness at making change, meaning policy change, she isn’t so much wrong as simply missing the point.

But to give Obama his due, he at times demonstrates a difference that goes beyond the atmospheric and inspirational. At times he demonstrates the kind of understanding and candor about complex issues that shouldn’t be as unusual as it is.

There was a instance of this higher sort of “change” in Saturday night’s New Hampshire debate. The exchange (excerpted from the New York Times’ full transcript) went like this:

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Is it ever okay to consider the cost of health care?

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

tice.jpgSaturday night’s New Hampshire debates were among the more substantive of the campaign.

Health care got a fair bit of discussion, and along the way moderator Charlie Gibson asked ahealthcare.jpg crucial question. Isn’t it true, he wanted to know, that significantly controlling health care costs will ultimately require limiting Americans’ access to some kinds of treatment?

He didn’t get any candid answers. But during a separate portion of the debate, John Edwardsjohn_edwards.jpg invoked a story that illustrates the hard choices Gibson’s question alluded to.

By way of (what else?) denouncing corporate greed, Edwards cited the death last month of 17-year old Nataline Sarkisyan, a California teenager. Suffering from leukemia, Sarkisyan needed a liver transplant after complications from a bone marrow transplant. Her insurance company refused to pay for what it considered, in her condition, an experimental procedure.

The company changed its mind in the face of protest and publicity, but the teen died before the procedure could be performed.

One can find a great deal of red-faced commentary on this case echoing the family’s view that the insurance company murdered the sick girl. Here, though, is a thoughtful report from the LA Times business section.

The essence of the situation appears to be that the transplant promised Sarkisyan a two-out-of-three chance of living six more months. The experts quoted by the Times seem to view its merits as a close call.

This website puts the cost of a liver transplant at between $100,000 and $400,000.

Questions:

Is it perfectly clear that under these circumstances the costs of a liver transplant are justified?

What are the prospects for controlling the growth of health care spending if questions about the reasonableness of this kind of expenditure cannot be raised?

Clinton on Social Security: Is That A Fact?

Friday, October 26th, 2007

tice.jpgWe recently examined the GOP presidential candidates’ positions on Social Security, as revealed in a recent debate, and found them less than wholly impressive, although Fred Thompson scored a few points for candor.

The Democrats have been debating Social Security’s problems, too.

At a September 20 debate in Davenport, Iowa on Health Care and Financial Security, five Democrats (not including Barack Obama) took on the entitlements challenge.

One of the more provocative moments came when frontrunner Hillary Clinton charged that the Bush administration’s fiscal irresponsibility has cost Social Security 14 years of solvency — that is, brought the date when the Social Security Trust Fund is expected to be exhausted 14 years nearer.

Here’s the clip:

Watch the whole debate here. The Clinton statement is at 39:00 if you’d like to see it in context.

It’s a very strong claim — that Bush and congressional Republicans have shortened the life of the Social Security Trust Fund through irresponsibility and taking money out of the fund to finance the Iraq war and tax cuts for the rich.

Trouble is, it’s misleading at best.

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Minnesota becomes a super-duper state

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

This just in: The State DFL Central Committee has voted to move the party’s 2008 caucuses to Feb 5, following the state GOP’s move and putting Minnesota in with dozens of states that will choose delegates that day and quite possibly determine presidential nominees for both major parties.

Staff writer Bon von Sternberg on the continuing primary scramble

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

vonste.jpgJust when you thought it was safe to start writing next year’s 2008 primary calender in ink instead of pencil, well, forget it.

Michigan is on the verge of shaking things up big time. Forget Super Duper Tuesday, the day folks in two dozen states go to the polls. Even as Iowa and New Hampshire are scrambling to front-load the schedule closer and closer to New Year’s Day, Michigan’s legislature is in the process of moving the state’s primary date to Jan. 15.

It’s hard to be sure what exactly is the “latest” on this craziness, but here’s
a New York Post story on Michigan’s maneuver.

BOB VON STERNBERG

December in Iowa?

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Talk about the “permanent campaign”! ’08 could be closer than you think, according to this story in the Des Moines Register.

The lay of the land for 2008?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

In the spirit of it’s never being too early to speculate about Election Day 2008, here’s a first-cut analysis about the possible coloration of the electoral college map next November.

According to this stateline.org story, Minnesota promises to be smack-dab in the middle of the tossup states, along with Wisconsin and Iowa, suggesting that the newly-competitive Upper Midwest Iron Triangle of states will be fertile ground for up close and personal campaigning, much as they have been in the past two presidential election cycles.

What to make of it?

Well, that was different

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Let’s toss it open for some post-debate debate. A couple questions to address:

The format Fun? Distracting from the candidates? Is that good or bad?

Edwards Passionate or straining? Anybody understand his position on gay marriage, or the role of religion in his thinking?

Clinton How impressive is her developing easy-going, unassuming style? Has she finessed her war position? Why the rejection of the liberal label? Is she playing the front-runner position well?

Obama Confident and articulate, but is he making the case that he’s the better choice than Clinton? Nuclear power?

The rest Anybody making a move?

Debate the debate – part 4

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Tonight, the Big Question will present an opportunity for readers to comment live on the Democratic presidential debate.

Right here, in this space (tech gods willing), the CNN/YouTube debate will commence at 6 p.m. (CST) You will be able to comment and respond in real time.

As always, we ask for civility and substance.

Here are questions 31 and up. You can watch the streaming coverage from CNN right here (requires plug-in).

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Debate the debate – part 3

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Tonight, the Big Question will present an opportunity for readers to comment live on the Democratic presidential debate.

Right here, in this space (tech gods willing), the CNN/YouTube debate will commence at 6 p.m. (CST) You will be able to comment and respond in real time.

As always, we ask for civility and substance.

Here are questions 21 through 30. You can watch the streaming coverage from CNN right here (requires plug-in).

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