Monday, August 14, 2006
Political Hot Topics
"SIGNS OF POLITICAL CRISIS" AS BOTH SIDES AGREE TO CEASE-FIRE: The Israeli Cabinet approved the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Israel's fighting with Hezbollah yesterday. But both sides ramped up their attacks to improve their positions ahead of the truce, which went into effect this morning. Signs of political crisis were evident in both Israel and Lebanon. A Lebanese Cabinet meeting was postponed yesterday indefinitely amid serious disagreements over the key issue of disarming Hezbollah fighters. In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced growing calls for his resignation at what one critic called a "humiliating defeat." Boston Globe: Israel approves cease-fire resolution

"FRANTIC" DIPLOMACY AT THE UN: American secretaries of state attend Security Council sessions on resolutions only after a deal has been struck. Yet last Friday, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New York, not only was there no deal, it was unclear whether the Council would even meet. Negotiators [at the United Nations] and in Paris, Washington, Beirut, Jerusalem and Arab capitals were still fighting over central elements of a draft resolution to halt the combat. The fact that a resolution was passed unanimously that night still amazes some of the participants. New York Times: U.S. Shift Kicked Off Frantic Diplomacy at U.N.

SY HERSH: U.S. KNEW IN ADVANCE OF ISRAELI WAR PLANS: "According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah - and shared it with Bush Administration officials - well before the July 12th kidnappings. 'It's not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,' he said, 'but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.'" New Yorker: WATCHING LEBANON; Washington's interests in Israel's war

RED TO ORANGE: The Department of Homeland Security last night reduced the terrorism threat level for U.S.-bound flights from Britain from red, for "severe," to orange, for "high," in the wake of last week's raids that officials say broke up a London-based bomb plot by Islamist radicals. "I think the likelihood is, the main elements of the plot have been scooped up," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." But Mr. Chertoff said the United States needs "maximum flexibility" to thwart terrorist attacks. "What helped the British in this case is the ability to be nimble, to be fast, to be flexible, to operate based on fast-moving information," he said on ABC's "This Week." Washington Times: Terror threat level cut, but still 'high'

"BETTER GRADES" FOR CHERTOFF THIS TIME: Right after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast last year, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, flew to Atlanta for a conference on bird flu — and then spent months parrying criticism that his department had flunked the first big test of its existence. Last week, the department confronted a second major test, the arrests in Britain of 24 men suspected of plotting to blow up airliners bound for the United States. In this case, the initial reviews of Mr. Chertoff's performance have been largely positive. The Homeland Security Department responded quickly to impose new security measures on the fear that some plotters might still be at large. Questions remain about the agency's bureaucracy and its ability to anticipate threats rather than just react to them. But it is notable that Mr. Chertoff is being praised by some people who once bitterly chastised him or even called for his resignation. New York Times: Homeland Security Department Gets Better Grades in 2nd Major Test

REPUBLICANS WORRYING ABOUT THE NORTHEAST: The Iraq war and Bush's low approval ratings have created trouble for Republicans in all regions. But nowhere is the GOP brand more scuffed than in the Northeast, where this year's circumstances are combining with long-term trends to endanger numerous incumbents... Last week's defeat of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut moderate who has supported the Iraq war, in the Democratic primary gave Republicans a vivid look at some of the same angry currents likely to buffet them this fall. A Washington-Post ABC News poll this month found Bush's approval rating at 28 percent in the Northeast -- 12 points below his national average. The Republican Congress fared no better. Republican losses in the region could echo well beyond the 2006 campaign. Because much of the region is tilting Democratic, history suggests Republicans would find it hard to recapture seats once lost. Washington Post: For GOP, Bad Gets Worse in Northeast

SONS OF '80 ELECTION LOSERS "STRIKE BACK": In the history of the Democratic Party, the election of 1980 looms large: the year the party lost the White House, the Senate, a generation of Midwestern liberals and, in some ways, its confidence that it was the natural, even inevitable, majority party. Now, that election has a sequel. Call it the return of the sons: Chet Culver, the Iowa secretary of state and the son of former Senator John C. Culver, is running for governor of Iowa. Senator Evan Bayh, son of former Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, is organizing and testing the waters for a possible presidential bid in 2008. And Jack Carter, the son of former President Jimmy Carter, has decided at the age of 59 to run an uphill race for the Senate in Nevada, his first foray into electoral politics. New York Times: Fathers Defeated, Democratic Sons Strike Back

LAMONT "SURPRISED" BY LIEBERMAN/CHENEY TERROR REMARKS: The thwarted terrorist airline plot in Britain is sparking a bitter new round of finger-pointing in Connecticut's bruising Senate race. Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who toppled Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last week, said he was surprised by Lieberman's and Vice President Dick Cheney's claims that his views on Iraq could embolden terrorists. "My God, here we have a terrorist threat against hearth and home, and the very first thing that comes out of their mind is how can we turn this to partisan advantage. I find that offensive," Lamont said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press. AP via Yahoo! News: Lieberman terror remarks surprise Lamont

DROP OUT, JOE, SAYS DEAN ON "MEET": The Democratic Party's boss says it's time for Joe to go. Adding his voice to a chorus of other leaders, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman should drop his independent bid against Ned Lamont, the anti-war candidate who knocked him off in last week's primary. "I know how hard this is for Joe, and he is a good person, but the truth is, I lost one of these races, and I got behind my party's nominee, and I think that is what you have to do if you want to help this country," Dean said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The way to help this country is to limit Republican power," he said. New York Daily News: Joe, you gotta go, says Dem boss Dean

LIEBERMAN LEADS LAMONT 46-41 IN POLL: Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman leads Democratic nominee Ned Lamont by 5 percentage points in the first poll taken since Tuesday's bruising primary battle. The Rasmussen Reports survey polled 550 likely voters Wednesday and Thursday and found Lieberman, who is running as an independent, with 46 percent to Lamont's 41 percent. Republican nominee Alan Schlesinger trailed with 6 percent. The poll shows Lamont in a much stronger position than a July 20 survey by Quinnipiac University, which had Lieberman beating Lamont 51 percent to 27 percent in a November faceoff. "This tells me the Lieberman-Lamont race is going to be competitive right through November," said pollster Scott Rasmussen. Hartford Courant: Post-Primary Poll Gives Lieberman Narrow Lead

"NOBODY IS A MORE LOYAL AND TRUSTED ADVISER" THAN HADASSAH: Some of the senator's former advisers have said that his political problems have stemmed from an overreliance on loyalists who have the same world view as he. And perhaps nobody is a more loyal or more trusted adviser than Mrs. Lieberman. But she is a force of her own. At several points this summer, she marshaled energy and enthusiasm among staff members, encouraging them to stay upbeat despite troubling poll numbers and to find ways to put Mr. Lieberman's best face forward. If that were not enough, Mrs. Lieberman has also juggled the responsibility of helping to plan their elder daughter's wedding. [It was held Sunday, after having been postponed from just before the primary.] New York Times: Lieberman's Closest Adviser

CAN ANY CANDIDATE COMPETE WITH ARNOLD'S PIZAZZ? It is no small task for [Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil] Angelides to compete in a personality contest with Schwarzenegger, a Hollywood star who has spent three decades polishing the public image that produced his wealth and political power base. For Angelides, a Sacramento insider who toils over bond sales and pension funds in his job as state treasurer, a lack of pizazz would, in theory, have little bearing on his ability to run the state. But candidate personalities always matter in a race for governor, and the difficulty of vying one-on-one against Schwarzenegger's is one of the most serious challenges that Angelides faces. "Voters vote for people, not for platforms," said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster who often surveys public opinion in California. "At the end of the day, who a candidate is, as a person, is vastly more important than almost anything else." Angelides advisors play down the significance of the personality contrast. Los Angeles Times: Angelides and the Charisma Question
Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 8/14/2006 09:13:00 AM ET | Permalink
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