Day: June 25, 2009

A Rising Republican Star In The Senate: John Thune of South Dakota

With the destruction of two potential candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012  (John Ensign and Mark Sanford) due to marital infidelity, the Republican field has narrowed considerably.  However,  the decline in fortune of some also leads to the growing role of others, as is seen by the appointment by Senate Republicans of John Thune of South Dakota as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth highest position within the party leadership.

This position gives Thune the opportunity to develop policy alternatives for the party in the Senate and put him more onto the national stage.  This, plus his good looks, his oratorical ability, his youth, and the fact that there are no other Senators considered likely as presidential candidates at this moment, elevates him to the real possibility of a Presidential candidacy in 2012, if with his big war chest, he can win reelection in South Dakota in 2010, which at this point is seen as likely.

So even with some potential candidates falling off the list, at least one more can now be said to have been added.

Obama And Prescription Drug “Donut Hole” For Medicare Recipients

President Obama achieved a great result when he announced a few days ago that prescription drug companies had agreed to lower by half the prices of name brand prescription drugs for senior citizens on Medicare.

The problem with the Medicare Part D plan is that there is a "donut hole"  where senior citizens have no protection, starting after $2700 in drug costs, and continuing to the threshold of $6100.  Now the prices being cut in half for that gap of costs will be a boon to those who certainly cannot afford the expense.

Obama is to be commended for working with the drug companies and getting this concession.  Also, the drug companies should be commended for understanding what their responsibility is to senior citizens.

A Federal Hate Crimes Law Is Necessary

Attorney General Eric Holder testified today before a Senate committee on the need for a federal hate crimes bill to supplement state laws across the country, so as to be certain that no hate crime perpetrator falls between the cracks and avoids prosecution.

This is a necessary step to protect people based not only on race, religion, and national origin,  but also disability and sexual orientation.  There are growing numbers of cases of attacks on people of Hispanic origin because of the illegal immigration controversy,  as well as crimes against gays.  The recent spate of hate crimes, including those against the Holocaust Museum in Washington,  D.C.,  the murder of the abortion doctor in Kansas, and the murder of the military recruiter in Arkansas,  necessitates full prosecution under federal law, as well as state laws, to crack down on this series of disgraceful events.

And yet, in the midst of this reality,  we get some conservative Republicans, including Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, questioning the need for such legislation, on the basis of states rights.  They seem to be blind to the reality of what is going on, and the administration needs to work full time to overcome this ridiculous opposition and accomplish the passage of this law as soon as possible!

Democrats Have Highest Positive Rating In Ten Years

A new CBS poll shows 57 percent of those polled have a positive image of the Democratic party, the highest such rating in the past ten years.

Only 32 percent have a negative rating, and the lower ratings of Democrats over the past ten years were due to the conservative Republican offensive against Bill Clinton and Al Gore, followed by eight years of the Bush Administration, with the Democrats in disarray until the midterm congressional elections of 2006.

This is, obviously, a great development for the Obama Presidency, but the question arises whether they can unite to accomplish the multiple goals of President Obama in this early stage of the term.  This is certainly the best opportunity to achieve the ambitious agenda of Obama, but unfortunately, there are major splits in the Democratic party among liberals, moderates, and "blue dog" Democrats, with the latter unwilling to go the distance for the administration on many issues.

It will be a real test for the President and the party to attempt to move ahead despite internal opposition and lack of cooperation from the Republican membership in Congress.  We are in a moment of history being made or, maybe, being stalled, as under Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  We can only hope for the best, and we need to unite around the President!