Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Catching Up

The Senate energy bill (most recent updates here), Bolton, and all sorts of other matters have kept me quite busy over the past few days, but I do want to comment on and pass along a few other things I've read recently on various topics (VA Gov. race, Biden's Iraq speech, the "Restless West," Senate ratings, and finally your nightly Bolton fix).

- In Virginia, centrist gubernatorial candidate Russ Potts continues to gain support from around the state both for his candidacy and in favor of allowing him to participate in the debates with the Republican and Democrat nominees. On Monday, as I noted then, the Washington Post editorialized in favor of his inclusion in the debates, and the Virginian Pilot followed suit today, writing in part "Potts has an electoral base, a proven grasp of the issues, and positions on taxes and transportation not being articulated by either of the major-party candidates ... Hearing what Potts has to say might not serve neither Kaine nor Kilgore. But it could make Virginians aware of realities that Kaine and Kilgore would be just as happy to ignore. ... The key here is that political debates aren’t for the convenience of the candidates; they’re for the education of the citizenry. In an age of sophisticated message marketing, a debate offers a citizen a rare unscripted glimpse of a candidates. Those who stand in the way ought to have their microphones silenced." The Augusta Free Press also urged Potts' inclusion.

In other good news for Potts, he was endorsed Tuesday by the UE Local 160 Chapter of the Virginia Public Service Workers' Union, an event covered in the Staunton News Leader and the Augusta Free Press. The president of the chapter made a statement that I think could end up being very important in this election: "The Democrats automatically assume that all union peoples are going to follow the Democratic ticket. But as I've told a number of people, in our membership we have Republicans, we have independents, we have moderates, and we have liberals and progressives. And all of us are tired of being taken for granted."

- Senator Joe Biden, the first announced '08 presidential candidate as of Sunday, made what just about every account I've read calls an excellent speech [PDF] at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, discussing a possible strategy from here on out in Iraq. For commentary on the speech, I would recommend Gregs Opinion and Ed Kilgore at New Donkey. That speech ought to be read and circulated widely: it's an important statement, and one whose recommendations are certainly worthy of discussion.

- My post from this morning about the restless state of some Republicans out West who are concerned with the pace and scope of the Administration's oil and natural gas drilling policies in that part of the country prompted some excellent Colorado-based commentary from Stygius and a second to my motion from Alan at The Yellow Line.

- Something that ought to make centrists of all stripes sit up and take notice: National Journal's Chuck Todd today revised his 2006 Senate Ratings, suggesting that a Democratic takeover of that chamber is no longer quite as wild an idea as it was several months ago. He rates Rick Santorum's seat the most likely to switch hands.

- On the Bolton front today, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid pledged that Democrats would allow an up-or-down vote on John Bolton's nomination if the White House turned over the information related to NSA intercepts and the use of intelligence related to Syria, but that seems just as unlikely as ever. After yesterday's bout of crow-eating, Majority Leader Frist basically washed his hands of the matter today, telling reporters "The environment has to change, but it's not just up to the White House. It's really between the White House and Chris Dodd and Joe Biden."

Thursday's Washington Post article reiterates Senator Lott's statement from yesterday urging the president to turn over the documents to the Democrats; Lott also notes the uselessness of attempting to siphon off votes from the Democratic side on the Bolton vote, recognizing "there's no incentive" for moderate Democrats to support cloture on Bolton. The Post quotes Senator Warner as saying he'll get back involved with cross-aisle discussions if and when the leadership calls for another vote on cloture.

Democrats have absolutely nothing to lose by continuing to seek the information they have been requesting since April. Support from Republicans and conservatives for the Bolton nomination is hemorrhaging more and more each day, and the White House will have to realize, sooner or later that nothing short of cooperation is going to get them any closer to confirmation. If he really cares about reforming the United Nations and getting someone to work up there right away, Bush ought to withdraw John Bolton's name and submit a better candidate.


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