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Posts Tagged ‘stimulus package’



Debate Watcher’s Guide to Babs and Hurricane Carly

Monday, August 30th, 2010

As the U.S. Senate candidates prepare to debate Wednesday evening, Republican Carly Fiorina and Democrat Barbara Boxer face two, very different challenges:

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, wants to make the case that Boxer is a left-wing extremist who should be tossed out of Congress and that she would make a solid replacement for her rival.

First elected in 1992, Boxer has to demonstrate that she has been, and can continue to be, effective in the Senate. It’s an added bonus if she can portray Fiorina as a right-wing whack job.

Look for Fiorina to move aggressively to steer the conversation to jobs, portray the economic stimulus bill as a prime example of excessive government spending and mock Boxer’s record of achievement (or lack thereof) in the Senate.

Watch for Boxer to argue that the stimulus saved many thousands of jobs in California, and to try to focus on a woman’s right to choose, climate change, offshore oil drilling and Fiorina’s record of achievement (or lack thereof) at Hewlett-Packard.

Throw down a shot every time Fiorina mentions Boxer’s 28 years in office and another when Boxer mentions HP and “You’ll be pretty toasted at the end of that game,” says Julie Soderlund, Fiorina’s spokeswoman.

Boxer is a big supporter of President Barack Obama and the stimulus. So Fiorina will home in on the sense that the president’s policies have failed to restore economic security. But every time Fiorina mentions the economy, she will open herself up to attacks about laying off thousands of HP employees, shipping jobs abroad and mismanaging the company, from which she was fired.

Both will have much to say about extending the Bush tax cuts: Fiorina likes them and Boxer argues they benefit only the rich. Both have strong views on immigration: Fiorina accuses Boxer of favoring amnesty and being soft on illegals; Boxer can’t understand why Fiorina is opposed to a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

Listen for how many times either candidate refers to “green jobs,” policy proposals that posit California can combine economic growth with environmental protection by building up wind, solar and battery industries to cushion the shock of tough regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Note how many times the two reference agriculture and – heaven help us – “family farming.” Is one of them for getting water to the Central Valley and the other opposed? Would one of them drain the Delta in order to flood parched farmland?

The issue of abortion rights is perhaps the brightest line difference between the two.

Boxer knows that Fiorina’s anti-abortion stance differs from mainstream views of most California voters, including the independents who tilt the balance in statewide elections. She also knows, however, that Fiorina has a personal narrative to explain her position – she and her husband, Frank, were unable to have children, while his mother recalls that she was urged to abort him for health reasons – so Boxer must handle it carefully.

While voters may hope the candidates will keep the debate focused on issues, some personal, snarky moments are all but guaranteed – the targets are just too tempting.

Will Fiorina refer to Boxer as “ma’am,” to remind viewers of her notorious confrontation over titles with a top general at a committee hearing? Will Boxer, as one of her advisers suggested, mention Fiorina’s yacht trips with her grandchildren? Will either offer a reminder of Fiorina’s dis of Boxer’s way-yesterday hairdo early in the campaign?

How about term limits, Barbara? Carly’s for them and has even pledged to serve only 12 years in the Senate. Is this just a cheap rhetorical trick or are you planning to lead a nationwide drive to get approval for a constitutional amendment, Carly?

Carly, are you for tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, like you did at HP? Barbara, do you want to raise business taxes to make it even harder for companies to hire workers when California’s unemployment rate is pushing 13 percent?

As they prepare for the debate, both sides are talking up how skilled the other is at public speaking and argument, part of the raise-expectations game.

But there are some expectations that viewers can rightfully bring to the debate-watching experience. Boxer, who often stands on a box to look taller, has to maintain the dignity and decorum of a United States senator, even if she takes shots at her challenger. Fiorina has to look and sound like a United States senator and not Suze Orman on steroids.

Viewers might want to put a couple of columns on a piece of paper: Junk Yard Dog and Dignified Public Servant. Every time either candidate sounds like one of these, mark her name in the appropriate column. Total them up at the end.

The results will have absolutely nothing to do with who actually wins the election.

This article, without clever Calbuzz art, appeared originally in the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, 8/29/10.

Swap Meet: Milk Carton Alert for Obama

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

barack-obama-is-on-fire“The Battle for America 2008,” the new memoir of last year’s presidential campaign by Washposters Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, is a terrific read that, among other things, serves as a reminder of how consistent, clear and disciplined Team Obama was in delivering his message throughout the race.

Which leads Calbuzz to the obvious question: What ever happened to that guy?

The president-elect met with Balz and Johnson at his transition headquarters in Chicago six weeks after the election and offered this post-game assessment of his own campaign:

“What was remarkable in my mind about our campaign was we never really changed our theory,” the president-elect told them. “You could read the speech we gave the day I announced and then read my speech on election night and it was pretty consistent.”

True enough, but then how in the world can a guy who runs one of the most masterful message campaigns in history manage to do such a dog-ass job of explaining the two most important and defining initiatives  shaping his presidency: 1) How the economic stimulus is supposed to work and 2) What he’s trying to accomplish with health care reform.

Sure, the Republican attack machine is doing its best to create confusion and misapprehension. But it’s the White House Office of Communications’ job to explain things in simple language, lay out the general and specific issues at hand and rally support for these ideas. And this time, Team Obama is getting outflanked at every turn by naysayers, wingnuts and imbeciles, not to put too fine a point on it.

The message really ought to be fairly straightforward: The people versus a) rich investment bankers and b) the insurance companies.

Anything else makes the issues clear as mud. We’re just sayin’.

chuck devore

Welcome to the NFL, Carly: If Carly Fiorina is watching gal pal Meg Whitman’s head-stuck-up, uh, in-the-clouds campaign for governor and thinking –- Hey, this whole politics thing looks easy! — Chuck DeVore just delivered a smack upside her skull that might bring her back down to earth.

Devore, the red meat Republican Assemblyman from Irvine, is a long shot contender for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat who’s been limbering up for the race by taking some not-half-bad cheap shots at Babs, but set aside a couple minutes this week to take a few whacks at Fiorina, who’s been sending signals from her Peninsula manse about seeking the GOP nomination.

Chowing down in D.C. with some true believers from the staff of The American Spectator, DeVore dissed his future party rival as a squish and a “self-funded dilettante” who got canned as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and booted off the McCain-for-President campaign for being a bonehead. As the conservative rag’s Brian O’Connell reported:

“‘Never in California’s history has a self-funded dilettante ever won any top office, Governor or Senate,’ the candidate said this morning at a breakfast sponsored by TAS and Americans for Tax Reform, when asked about a potential primary challenge from Fiorina. DeVore pointedly told attendees that Fiorina was fired from Hewlett Packard and from the McCain campaign for making several gaffes. He criticized her for supporting the financial bailout and said her views on most  policy issues were unknown. Moreover, he questioned whether Fiorina’s wealth, which he estimated at around $40 million, would even allow her to self-fund in a state such as California, with a population of 37 million and many expensive media markets. He also took issue with Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for ‘already making up his mind’ to support Fiorina, even though she hasn’t declared her candidacy.”

There were no injuries.

samiam

Holy Pocket, Sam! We LOVE this item from Anna Handzlik at Politico, who got a tip that a Good Samaritan found Congressman Sam Farr’s wallet in a Santa Cruz men’s room and returned it to him. But only after noticing that the Democrat from Carmel had in his wallet “a card marked ‘confidential’ that describes rendezvous points for congressmen in case of national emergencies.”

The finder, who described himself as a “supporter of single-payer health care,” reported that when he asked Farr’s aide if he’d noticed his wallet was missing, the aide nodded and said, “It’s been a real crazy morning.”

dr-hackenflackYe Old Mailbag: Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, who 40 years ago this weekend found his bliss while writhing in the Woodstock mud, tore himself away from his synthetic mescaline flashbacks long enough to pick the Top 5 comments of the past seven days from Calbuzz readers, the crème de la crème of California’s cognoscenti class.

1-sqrjn-sqrin said, of Tuesday’s rant assailing Obama’s reported pact-with-the-devil deal with the pharmaceutical industry:

“The Obama letdown continues. At least their secret deals aren’t with Oil execs right? Big Pharma’s better than Big Oil, right?

I don’t know which is worse. A.) the white house is making closed door deals with industry people and then lying about it B.) they didn’t make a deal, but this is a symptom that they are totally frazzled and disorganized, progressing quickly to screwing the pooch on a major reform.”

2-Divebomber responded to Berkeley professor Geoffrey Nunberg’s “Fresh Air” essay on political linguistics thusly:

“I disagree with Prof. Nunberg that the GOP successes to this point in the debate about state-run health care are the result of an implied negative view of the term ‘government’…

“In reality, boiling the issue down to simple semantics speaks to the real issue with the democrats and their proxy’s such as Prof. Nunberg – arrogance. They refuse to believe (and in many cases, simply are unable to conceive) that those with logical opposing positions to theirs have any real intelligence or critical analysis ability, and thus are easily swayed by simple word games.”

3-Prospero offered this take on Monday’s analysis of the new Field Poll report on changing patterns of partisanship in California:

“Don’t misunderestimate the effect of the meltdown of the state GOP in nailing down the color chart. In large part, we elect Dems to statewide offices because the GOP has become content with their second-string in the legislature, and aren’t even interested in fielding moderates who might some day grow up to be contenders. That’s why so many of their recent gubernatorial candidates have to come from outside the legislature – or even elected office.

“Independents swing blue here because the the GOP likes being isolated with the right wing who will continually whisper sweet red nothings in their ear. On fiscal issues in particular, California’s voters might very well take a serious GOP candidate seriously. It’s no accident that they repeatedly reject blue-ish proposals from the Gov that didn’t seem very fiscally prudent.

The collapse of our state GOP leaves the field blue by default. But the Dems shouldn’t be flattered by that into thinking the DTSs are equally blue.”

4-cavala provided an historic coda to Calbuzz’s Big Think piece on Jerry Brown’s eyebrows:

“And i can remember when Jerry was accused of dying his sideburns gray to add gravitas to his run for Sec. of State.”

5-And, finally, pdperry questioned the accuracy and authenticity of Calbuzz reportage about ’60s fashion sense:

“head band”?! I’m sure you meant head bang…

Which drew a rare response from Dr. H. himself:

“Actually, in the olden days, long before there were head bangers, some young men actually wore head bands.

To which pd riposted: “oh, dude… i get it now.”

Oh dude, only 298 days until the primary.  Enjoy your weekend.