Chafee BEATS Right Wing Laffey in RI Primary: Bolton Stance Supported

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Lincoln Chafee has triumphed in his primary vote count tonight. While many will groan about Chafee’s victory because it makes the Rhode Island contest a greater hurdle for the Democratic challenger, I am pleased that Chafee has knocked out the far-right Laffey.
This Chafee victory is also a potential sign that Republicans who “look like Bush” are in trouble — and that Republicans who are pragmatists and not ideologues may be on the comeback. This, in the mid to long run, is very healthy for the country — just like the return of strength on the Democratic Party ledger is healthy for democracy.
Chafee showed backbone on the issue of whether John Bolton reflected a brand of foreign policy that Chafee could accept — both at the end of July and again last Thursday. Laffey’s endorsement of strident, pugnacious, anti-internationalism and attack on Chafee last Thursday backfired.
Another interesting by-product of tonight’s Rhode Island race is that I think it makes it slightly harder for Senator Schumer to continue to promote a zero-sum approach to Israel-Middle East issues in which there has been a wrong-headed, reckless conflating of John Bolton with the question of America being a strong supporter of Israel’s UN interests.
Someone needs to remind Schumer that Dems and Republicans equally have been strong stewards of Israeli security and interests — and over-personalizing this around the identity of John Bolton demeans Israel, the American Jewish community, and his own approach to American foreign policy.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Chafee BEATS Right Wing Laffey in RI Primary: Bolton Stance Supported

  1. Gwenllyn says:

    He is so cute. What a great looking guy he is. But, I hope he leaves his ugly old hag. Then he’ll be okay.

    Reply

  2. marky says:

    To have largely invertebrate “moderate” like Chaffee remain in the Senate is a terrible prospect as it lessens the chance that the American public will have their rights stood up for in Washington DC.

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  3. Nigel says:

    Great news, as you correctly point out a move back to moderation in the GOP is a excellent, not just for the US, but for the global community.
    Nigel

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  4. elementary teacher says:

    And now for a word from the finance desk:
    Mehlman to spend $60M, five times Dean’s $12M
    The Republican National Committee (RNC) will spend its entire bank account, $60 million or more, helping Republicans try to retain control of Congress in the midterm elections. . .
    http://tinyurl.com/hdvaw

    Reply

  5. CLK says:

    The Bolton nomination sure fell apart in a hurry.
    Could it be that the White House gave Chafee a “limited” pass on Bolton so Chafee could win his primary?
    Bet they will bring the nomination back after the election. Chafee will then have a “limited” change of heart and will decide Bolton needs an “up or down vote” by the entire Senate so Chafee will just have to vote to send the nomination to the floor.
    Politicians have done worse things to win elections.

    Reply

  6. Easy E says:

    Breaking News: GOP Hires Translator for Bush to Help Get His Message Across. Enjoy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-rBc9jxG1U&eurl=

    Reply

  7. gq says:

    Sadly, I don’t see the current GOP as salvageable. I think the entire coalition has to be broken up for it to be able to become moderate again. The coalition is made up of extremists on just about every issue: Foreign policy (neocons, isolationists), anti-taxers/anti-government (Norquist), religious extremists (Pat Robertson), racial issues (George “Macaca” Allen, Tancredo types), women’s rights (Rick “women need to stay at home and make babies” Santorum types)….(do I need to go on?)
    The fundamental structure of the modern day GOP is built from extremism. That extremism isn’t fixable if the current coalition sticks together.

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  8. ahem says:

    As much as it would have been nice to have a Senate seat gifted to the Democrats by the Club for Millionaries, I mean Growth, the debate that will take place in RI from now till November is going to be one that reflects the political character of the state.
    What Whitehouse needs to emphasise now is that for Chafee’s few squeaks of dissent, his votes have generally been the same as those of Santorum, Imhofe and Coburn. And Chafee’s value to the NRSC is not for his contribution on policy, but as a warm body in the Senate chamber.

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  9. Carroll says:

    I meant to say this before..
    “Someone needs to remind Schumer that Dems and Republicans equally have been strong stewards of Israeli security and interests — and over-personalizing this around the identity of John Bolton demeans Israel, the American Jewish community, and his own approach to American foreign policy”..Steve
    Actually someone needs to remind Shumer, the dems and the repubs that they supposedly work for America and should be “strong stewards” of American’s interest and reputation.
    And they aren’t.
    The right wing Iraeli community, the craven dems and the craven repubs have already “demeaned America” on the Bolton issue.
    They are all f****** with MY children’s country and YOURS ..and I am beyond fed up with all of it. Period.

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  10. MSB says:

    With regards to the comparisons of Ned Lamont and Lincoln Chafee, maybe the salient point is that they each defeated cantidates who were closer to President Bush than they were. Lieberman and Laffey each supported the Administration’s foreign policy much more than either Lamont or Chafee.

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  11. Carroll says:

    I’ve been wondering for weeks now: how come such a wonkish blog like this has comments which are so hefty on the partisan blather and light on policy analysis and insight? The Internet and blogging and whatnot might have inspired countless little Zbigniew Brzezinskis but instead is spawning hordes of Karl Roves.
    Posted by Keith M Ellis at September 13, 2006 10:12 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Frankly I don’t see that much partisan blather. I see more outrage and disgust. More outrage at the eternal, never ending policy wonking, and disgust that we are no closer to solutions after ten trillion megatons of hot air blah,blah,blah policy wonking expended on these problems.
    Since none of us have the insider access of Steve to information, all we can do is react to whatever info or ideas he puts before us.
    Maybe we think we can incite non policy makers to eventually make enough noise to stop all THIS:
    “I don’t know if CNN domestic shows the same report as CNN International, but Michael Ware’s report from Anbar Province today is just devastating. To see Marines choked up with tears for their miserable task and loss of one of their own as al Qaeda deepens its hold over al Anbar is devastating.
    Posted by Laura at 12:37 PM @ War&Piece
    Get with the program Keith,anyone with two brain cells knows what needs to be done and it’s not more policy wonking, it’s getting rid of people who are preventing the solution.

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  12. Marky says:

    Chaffee’s win means that the DSCC has to spend money in RI, and this could hurt other races.
    If you were afraid that a Laffey win would send a message that Republicans are crazy, I have a message for you—today’s GOP IS crazy. Anyone who votes for a Republican in a Congressional election this November is either incredibly uninformed or possesses malignant views.
    A vote for Chaffee in November is just as much a vote of support for Bush as a vote for George Allen.
    Step out of the Macaca and vote Dem, to vote for sanity and for a Congress which stops Bush’s overreach.

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  13. John says:

    Carroll–
    I’m never encouraged when Palestinians take constructive steps, because Israel never responds in kind. If Palestinians make concessions in advance, the Israeli government takes it as a sign of weakness and concludes that they don’t need to do anything. If Palestinians don’t offer anything, Israel just whines that they have no negotiating partner and does nothing to make progress. The dynamics are described in Avi Shlaim’s “The Iron Wall:” the culture of the cabinet precludes negotiating a mutually acceptable outcome with an adversary.
    This is why any peace process needs adult supervision to put pressure on the Israeli side. Since the US refuses to assume that role, the door opens to others. It’s encouraging that the EU seems to stepping up.

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  14. Jon Stopa says:

    “I’ve been wondering for weeks now: how come such a wonkish blog like this has comments which are so hefty on the partisan blather and light on policy analysis and insight? The Internet and blogging and whatnot might have inspired countless little Zbigniew Brzezinskis but instead is spawning hordes of Karl Roves.
    Posted by: Keith M Ellis”
    It might be because the election of ’06, which may set the direction of the US for the next century, is nearly upon us, and people are very concerned.
    Re the idea of setting up a virtual Palestinian State, I have thought it a good idea since before Clinton’s efforts tanked.
    Just a semi-snarky idea. How about setting up a virtual three state solution to Iraq, creating it right down to the level of neighborhoods, (especially Baghdad). Fences or walls would be set up between each group; there might be seperate police departments. Sunnis would vote for a Sunni council; Shia for theirs; Kurds for theirs, etc. These councils would meet and deal with common problems, like water.
    It could outline a solution to this civil war. Or it could convince them it would be too much trouble to live that way.
    Jon Stopa

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  15. The Other Steve says:

    “A moderate Republican wins the primary in RI and a moderate Democrat loses the primary in CT. ”
    Didn’t Lieberman call his opponent in the Democratic primary a Republican?
    Does that mean Lieberman lost to a Bi-partisan?
    Anyway, glad Chafee won. I prefer reasonable people to kooks like Laffey(or Lieberman).

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  16. Pissed Off American says:

    I’ve been wondering for weeks now: how come such a wonkish blog like this has comments which are so hefty on the partisan blather and light on policy analysis and insight? The Internet and blogging and whatnot might have inspired countless little Zbigniew Brzezinskis but instead is spawning hordes of Karl Roves.
    Posted by Keith M Ellis
    Well thats a condescending piece of horseshit.
    (Hows THAT for “partisan blather”?)
    BTW, bucko, talking about Rove, you need to read your post again. Seems damn Rovian to me.
    (But hey, what do I know, being a partisan blatherer and all.)

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  17. brighton says:

    In response to TLittle:
    You are looking at this the wrong way. It isn’t about moderate versus partisan. Its about those who have been in lockstep with the current administration versus those who have repeatedly stood against it.
    Chaffee: frequent critic of Bush and his policies.
    Leiberman: frequent supporter.
    Its that simple. Also explains how the hard right candidate in AZ one. His views opposed Bush’s on imigration.

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  18. Keith M Ellis says:

    I’ve been wondering for weeks now: how come such a wonkish blog like this has comments which are so hefty on the partisan blather and light on policy analysis and insight? The Internet and blogging and whatnot might have inspired countless little Zbigniew Brzezinskis but instead is spawning hordes of Karl Roves.

    Reply

  19. MNW says:

    The elections of 2006 are about one thing, and one thing only…
    Which party will control the houses of Congress?
    I do so hope that the good people of Rhode Island recognize this fact, and vote for Whitehouse. This election is not so much about the individual positions of the candidates, as much as it is about whether they have a D or an R next to their name. My hope is that the people of Rhode Island vote for the D to represent them…because the liklihood of electing Ds in predominantly red states is much less.
    While Chafee may be considered a “moderate” Republican, the R next to his name means that he is contributing to the fact that Republicans control the Senate. If this country wants sanity restored to Congress and it’s government, then one party rule must be rejected.
    Restore sanity…Vote Democrat!

    Reply

  20. taters says:

    I’m also glad Chafee won. Let’s just keep in perspective the geographics here.

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  21. zonk says:

    I think it’s a bit overly simplistic to compare the CT and RI primary outcomes —
    We saw record primary turnout in CT dem primary to defeat a 3 term incumbent. Turnout, from what I’ve gathered, was par for the primary course (if not lower) in RI – Hotline’s reporting of the early crowing by the Laffey camp notwithstanding.
    While the dem ‘establishment’ as individuals largely lined up behind Leiberman, the DSCC stayed out of it (at least financially) – as did the DNC.
    In RI – the RSCC/RNC poured both money and people into RI to save an incumbent against a primary challenger… and an incumbent who’s far from a sure thing in the general, to boot. I have to believe that money spent – some of it at least spent against the direct wishes of the RNC’s small donor base, ain’t gonna be replaced.
    Of course, I’m not privy to the private thoughts of Schumer, Dole, et al — but comparing the two contests, I think I’d rather be heading the committee that didn’t go to extremes to piss its base off than the one that spent from its coffers and pulled people from other states to turn back a challenge by theirs.
    If you look close, you can see the seams holding the bundle of what was the Repbulican majority start to fray.

    Reply

  22. Bruce Webb says:

    Whoops, was messed up by the format. The post I was commenting on was put up by “John”.
    That being said some better visual separation between the comments might be useful for idiots like me. It all kinds of blends together, at least before the first cup of coffee.

    Reply

  23. DrBB says:

    >”and a moderate Democrat loses the primary in CT.”
    >
    >… to another moderate Democrat.
    Nice and concise. I’d have said “Closeted right-winger now running as a crypto-Republican loses the primary in CT. To a moderate Democrat.” But it is kinda wordy.

    Reply

  24. Bruce Webb says:

    “Posted by steve at September 12, 2006 10:13 PM
    Comments
    A moderate Republican wins the primary in RI and a moderate Democrat loses the primary in CT”
    Hmm? An anti-war Republican wins the primary in RI and an pro-war Democrat loses the primary in CT.
    I know a lot of people on both sides of the middle would like to portray this as a battle against what they perceive to be the wingnuts on both sides but the reality is that this election is not turning on “moderation/extremism” but on whether you fundamentally understand that this Administration has blundered us into losing a war while destroying the Army and Marines in the process.
    It is not about “moderation”, it is about clear-eyed assessment of whether ground invasion was the right way to achieve what was admittedly a bi-partisan goal of regime change in Iraq. Yes Saddam was a monster and yes taking military action to change the regime was justified, but some very smart people including the chief of staff of the Army recognized that doing it on the cheap with too few troops was just going to get a bunch of Americans killed to no positive end.
    Stupid people who supported ground invasion anyway and decided that listening to guys with degrees in math was a better idea than listening to career military professionals are losing, people who used their heads are winning. As a Democrat I kind of wish Chafee had lost, as an American I am gratified that the people of Rhode Island and the people of Connecticutt have their heads screwed on right.
    To really paraphrase Goldwater: “Moderation in the cause of getting Americans killed for no reason at all is no virtue”.

    Reply

  25. Carroll says:

    I hate to be so off topic but can anyone make sense of this:
    Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs
    September 12, 2006
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.
    The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.
    “If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne. “(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.”
    >>>>>>
    Hummm…use “non lethal” weapons on the “battlefield”.
    But test these “non lethal” weapons on US “civilians” first to make sure they don’t harm anyone on the battlefield in an unintended way?
    Is This guy being a smart ass … is this some kind of snarkie remark? This a -hole makes no sense.

    Reply

  26. Carroll says:

    Posted by John at September 12, 2006 11:27 PM
    >>>>>>>>
    John..thanks for link to article. I have been following this EU trend on the ME for awhile. I think Lebanon gave them some extra urgency to pick up steam on this with or without US cooperation. I hope they don’t back down.
    Two other articles that might interest you…and for the record…I had seen back in July that Palestine “had” agreed to recongize Israel..but then noticed that the US papers continued to say that Palestine refused to recongize Israel..as if Palestine and the moderate Hamas leaders had not already agreed to that….but this says it again…although I fully expect the US papers to keep saying the opposite:
    GAZA CITY (AFP) – Palestinian leaders agreed to create a national unity government in a move that could end months of political and fiscal crisis and pave the way for a resumption of urgently needed Western aid.
    President Mahmud Abbas will dissolve the current government within the next 48 hours and charge prime minister Ismail Haniya of the Islamist movement Hamas with forming a new cabinet, officials said after the deal was announced.
    “President Abbas will be issuing a presidential decree within the next 48 hours to dismiss the current government and charge a new prime minister” to form a new cabinet, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.
    “Current prime minister Ismail Haniya will be charged … with forming a national unity government,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
    The 43-year-old Haniya will have five weeks to form a new government once he is officially charged with doing so.
    Abbas told reporters in Gaza City that he and rival Haniya had clinched a deal on forming a national unity government after weeks of tortuous talks.
    “We have finished defining the political program of a national unity government, based on the national reconciliation document,” Abbas said.
    ***The document, agreed on by nearly all the Palestinian factions on June 27, implicitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist.
    Haniya said: “This agreement was anticipated because the will was real and honest in the greater interest of the Palestinian people.
    ..continues at…
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060911/wl_mideast
    _afp/mideastpalestinian
    Also this:
    NORTH REGION NEWS
    Egypt urges Palestinian to set state borders before negotiations
    CAIRO, SEeptember 11 — Egypt proposed a Middle East peace plan based on fixing in advance the borders and other details of a Palestinian state before setting up negotiations to turn the concept into a reality on the ground.
    The approach is a radical departure from the one which has dominated Middle East diplomacy for most of the past 15 years, which was based on persuading Israelis and Palestinians to build confidence gradually through small steps.
    The Egyptian idea is similar to the concept proposed by King Abdullah of Jordan in an interview in the latest edition of Time magazine. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew to Jordan earlier on Sunday to coordinate plans with King Abdullah.
    Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit gave details of the new initiative at a news conference after talks with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
    Aboul Gheit said: “The necessary thinking which everyone must focus on … is on how to conceptualise what is referred to as the endgame. The endgame is the Palestinian state.”
    “If we agree on a Palestinian state, its borders and its parameters, then we can deal from there, through negotiations, to try and achieve this aim,” he added.
    The most recent Middle East document accepted by the main parties – the “road map” released in 2003 – leaves details of the Palestinian state to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
    But the road map, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and the European Union, has not produced any significant progress towards regional peace.
    In his interview with Time, King Abdullah said peace negotiations would be helpful in the short term. But he added: “We want to jump ahead to something tangible. We need to get to the point where people want to sign on the dotted line. We want to move to a two-state solution, but we are not going to go back and forth with lawyers until we get there.”
    Egypt and Jordan have been pushing a peace initiative by the Cairo-based Arab League, which in July declared the peace process dead and begged the UN Security Council to revive it.
    They were reacting initially to the outbreak of war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla movement Hezbollah, which exposed Arab governments friendly towards Washington to accusations that they were impotent against Israel.
    The European Union, taking advantage of the leverage it has gained by deploying peacekeepers in south Lebanon, has also promised to work harder for Middle East peace.
    The EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said the EU should persuade the United States to update and relaunch the “road map” and should seek new peace talks based on a return to Israel’s 1967 borders, except for agreed land swaps.
    A return to its 1967 borders remains anathema to Israel, which has said it wants to keep major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank under any deal. Solana said Israel’s main ally, U.S. President George W. Bush, had said more than once that Israel had to end the occupation that started in 1967.
    Moratinos said there was no need to change the principles for peace, such as the “land for peace” principle accepted at the peace conference which Spain hosted in 1991.
    “Of course, land for peace is the only way that will solve the Palestinian issue, the Lebanese issue … Shaba farms, or the Syrian issue, with the Golan heights,” he said.
    After the talks in Jordan on Sunday, Egypt and Jordan urged the international community to work for a speedy resumption of Middle East peace talks, officials said.
    Both leaders agreed at the brief summit in Amman that an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict could come about only by a comprehensive settlement based on past UN resolutions as well as on the basis of land for peace.
    Mubarak and Abdullah – key U.S. allies in the Mideast and Israel’s only Arab peace partners, urged the Palestinians and Israelis to resume peace talks as soon as possible and said efforts to form a new unity government between the militant Hamas group and more moderate factions were critical.
    “Reviving the Palestinian-Israeli peace process” was a top priority, they said.
    This included “both sides returning to the negotiating table in the soonest possible time,” they said.
    Mubarak flew into the Jordanian capital on an unexpected visit Sunday. Accompanied by his foreign minister and his chief of intelligence, Mubarak held a closed-door meeting with Abdullah and top aides at an Amman hilltop palace.
    Both leaders reaffirmed their support for moderate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and said the formation of a unity government with the ruling Hamas “would allow the Palestinians to be a powerful and effective peace partner,” according to a royal palace statement issued following the talks.
    Abbas said Sunday he was prepared to meet unconditionally with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, possibly paving the way for the resumption of peace talks. Israel said it would work to bring about the meeting soon.
    Israel and the West have been boycotting Hamas since it won legislative elections in January, but they consider Abbas an acceptable channel for peace talks.
    Abbas, a moderate who leads the rival Fatah Party, thinks a so-called national unity government would force Hamas to soften its anti-Israel ideology.
    Olmert began calling last week publicly for talks with Abbas after shelving plans for a large-scale, unilateral pullback from parts of the West Bank. – haaretz”

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  27. MNPundit says:

    I’m glad Chaffee won, it will be so much sweeter when Whitehouse kicks his panderin’ ass to the curb in November. Moderate Republicans need to realize one thing: in order for them to survive they must leave their party and become Democrats.

    Reply

  28. Rob says:

    Although I’m hoping for a Whitehouse victory come november in Rhode Island, I am still glad that Chaffee won. I am no fan of his; I think he is just a slightly less nauseating Bush rubber stamper, a pig with a bit more lipstick. But the thought that my felow Americans could endorse someone as despicable as Laffey, backed by an organization as despicable as the so called club for growth, is painful.
    By the way, anyone who thinks Lieberman is a moderate Democrat is seriously deluded. He is a corporate whore neo-con in sheep’s clothing.

    Reply

  29. Carroll says:

    I am glad Chaffe won and hope it signals a turning toward sanity among Republicans…maybe this will be a warning to right wing repubs to walk toward the light or be left behind.

    Reply

  30. merque says:

    I’m glad Chafee won. It’s good that the moderates on the republican side get stronger and maybe help thier party find thier way back from OZ.
    It’s much better when both parties are working and for the people. Our party has moved as far as we can in right side of the left, that a moderate becomes a republican. But, the republicans have moved so far right that they need the sanity of the moderates to help the party from permanently imploding.
    I don’t want the republicans to explode. We have seen too much these past years of what one party rule can do.

    Reply

  31. PaulB says:

    “and a moderate Democrat loses the primary in CT.”
    … to another moderate Democrat.
    As for the lack of focus on domestic issues on the part of Republicans, it’s definitely intentional. They will be focusing on two things this election season — purely local issues on a per-race basis and on terror, terror, terror. Sweeping national issues will be completely off the table unless they’re related to the “war on terror” or security.

    Reply

  32. John says:

    In the grand scheme of things Chafee’s win and Bolton’s loss may not matter a whole lot, if Europe fills the vacuum left by the US in the Middle East, as it is starting to do. Solana seems to be making progress with the Iranians by ignoring US preconditions. And the EU is starting to develop its own independent foreign policy initiatives: http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europe/eu_mideast_3894.jsp
    With the US obsessed with its “war” on terror, others are free to deal with real problems, including terrorism, in a constructive way.

    Reply

  33. TLittle says:

    A moderate Republican wins the primary in RI and a moderate Democrat loses the primary in CT.
    I am not sure whether the the Republicans have it more together than the Democrats this election cycle. However, it seems to me that foreign policy has the potential to play a very big role.
    It also doesn’t bode will for Republicans that they have spent so much time focusing on the war on terrorism that they have neglected domestic issues like Social Security, which I blame both parties for.
    If this is an inidication of things to come in 2008 then the Democrats need to get their act together if they want to pull out a win.

    Reply

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