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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Monday, June 30, 2008

McCain's Got "Gore" Problem

   McCain's Got Gore Problem
        When former V.P. Al Gore ran for president, he had a major problem….his boss the president.  Throughout the 2002 campaign Gore struggled with what to do about Bill Clinton.  Recall Clinton was a lightening rod with all sorts of political baggage.  Should Gore ignore him, or cuddle up to him, or what?  Gore never really figured it out.
        Fast forward to John McCain running for president with a Gore problem of his own…namely George W. Bush.  Some would argue that the current president has even more baggage than Clinton given the war and all
       So what is Mr. McCain doing?
       One of his first TV ads in Michigan begins with the line, "McCain broke with the president…"
       Guess that takes care of that. 
       McCain, like Gore, has a delicate line to walk.  He cannot completely walk away from the president because that would offend the 20-30% of the folks who still support him. And in fact McCain has stuck with the prez on the war in Iraq, and on the Bush tax cuts.
       But conversely, McCain has to create some distance from the president because the democrats are doing everything they can to morph McCain into Bush. And you're likely to see a TV ad that does just that.
       From the curb side, it looks like McCain's strategy is like being half pregnant i.e. he sides with the president on some stuff and when it comes to global warming and the like, he walks away.
        Will the blueprint lead him to the White House?
        We'll know in November.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Read The Fine Print

     Read the Fine Print
     Buyer beware.  Or more correctly, voters beware.
     Since last December, somebody has been paying up to $2.50 per name to collect petition signatures to dramatically revamp 36 sections of the Michigan constitution.  Until several weeks ago this stealth campaign was just that.
     If some group or groups want to generate voter support for these changes, why not inform the electorate from the outset unless there was a hidden agenda?     
     And there was.  If nobody knew anything about the secret campaign, than the opponents could not counter attack to discourage citizens from signing the petitions.
     Recently Mark Brewer, who runs the Michigan Democratic Party, acknowledged that he supports this effort and lots of folks believe, he actually helped  write it.  He has not disclosed where the millions of dollars came from to pay for the petition names.
      In the meantime the proposition is now getting plenty of ink.
      Brewer now wants the public to know some of the elements in the plan: salaries for lawmakers, the governor and others would be slashed; the 110 member house and 38 member senate would be slashed to 82 and 28 members respectively and the State Supreme Court and State Appeals Courts would be reduced, too.  That has tremendous curb side appeal to tax weary citizens.  But the plan does more than that.  Lots more.
       So while this looks like a cost saving plan, Brewer has another hidden agenda.  Many of the other changes seek to reduce the influence of the GOP in state government which is why the state GOP is going ballistic.
      It looks like this Trojan Horse will get to the ballot in November if Brewer can file enough signatures by July 7th.  Then the battle royale will begin.
      Not telling ya how to vote on this puppy, but to repeat, voters beware.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pass the Wet Noodle

      Pass the Wet Noodle
          Senate democrats and one lonely republican were part of an aborted coup last week, and this week the rebels got their punishment…a whack with a wet noodle.
           If the Senate GOP leader was trying to flex his muscles and send a strong message, he failed on both counts.  Charles Atlas he ain't.
           Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop had a variety of punishment weapons in his tool chest, but he selected the weakest of the bunch.
          GOP Senator Bruce Patterson who sided with the democrats lost his vice chairmanship of one senate committee and was removed from another.
          Likewise for democratic Senators Mark Schauer and Gretchen Whitmer. They were bounced from committees as well.  On a scale of one to ten, this was a minus 5.
          "It's important that we not have those types of things happen here.  It doesn't reflect well on the body," Bishop meekly announced after dishing out the paybacks.
           Bishop had no choice.  He had to do something to make sure the democrats and Patterson don't try to take control of the senate again, and maybe by using a velvet glove he was able to accomplish that goal without causing more problems.  He gets the benefit of the doubt on his strategy.
           But if he was trying to beef up his image as a powerful, take no hostage-type leader, that message was not sent.  As lobbyists have whispered in the hall outside the senate, Mr. Bishop is no John Engler.
           When Engler ran the senate years ago, if somebody tried to take power from him, the "guilty" parties would have been shaking in their boots.
           As for Patterson, Schauer, and Whitmer, all they need is a towel to wipe off the moisture from the wet noodle.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Experience Card

The Experience Card
        If you blinked your eyes on Wednesday, you missed the POTUS.
        The President of the United States landed about 4:10 pm and it was wheels up on Airforce One about three hours later.  In-between he raised a nifty $700,000 for the Michigan GOP and got in a few plugs for John McCain.
        But one of the plugs went in the wrong socket.
        President Bush told the 300 or so party faithful that John McCain has the experience to run the country.
        "In trying times we need a president who has been tested…we need a Commander in Chief who understands we need to defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to fight him here…"
        Playing the experience card was a waste of time.
        Hillary Clinton tried that against Barack Obama and you see where it got her.
        "I have 35 years experience," she lectured voters.  "I'm ready to be Commander in Chief on day one."
         Yep, she had the experience but he got the nomination.
         Put more bluntly, experience in this presidential race does not mean squat.
         Democrats and independent voters had a chance to vote for experience in the battle between Clinton and Obama but they chose change instead.
         So where does that leave McCain?
         That's a question he and his troops should figure out before what happened to the Hill, happens to him.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why Bush? Why Now?

Why Bush?  Why Now?
     Go figure.  President Bush's popularity is lower than an earthworm's belly and yet the state Republican Party wants him in town.
     What gives?
     Despite his bumpy war in Iraq, despite four bucks a gallon gas, and despite a housing industry in the tank, George W. Bush has not lost his ability to put his hands on wallets all over the country.  The event in Livonia this week was $1,000 a pop, and as long as he has that staying power, he'll be a draw.
    As for any political fallout that might hurt John McCain, the state party says not to worry.  "The democrats are going to hang Bush around McCain anyway," a state GOP insider confesses.  So what's the diff if he does a fundraiser?
    To be sure the party will not trot out the president to do any campaign rallies in Hart Plaza or any town hall meetings in the tri-county region.  That would be counterproductive.  But you will continue to see him glad-handing the party faithful and posing for pictures, at $5,000 a pop, between now and November.
    There is one school that suggests the Bush visit was designed to counteract the recent campaign appearances of Barack Obama in Michigan.
    Good theory, but wrong theory.
    As this same insider admits, "The White House doesn't move fast enough for that."
    Funny thing. Isn't that the same thing you could say about their domestic and foreign endeavors as well? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get It Where You Can

   Get It Where You Can
        Will this help to elect him governor?
        Probably not, but why not do it anyway.
        In the coming days, you'll hear a lot about Michigan's minimum wage going up on July 1st and one of the guys you'll be hearing from is the lt. governor.
        You're going…yeah, the lt. governor…the lt. governor?  Just who IS the lt. governor?
         Which is exactly why John Cherry, who wants to run for Jennifer Granholm's job, did two little public service announcements on the pay increase that will run on radio stations all over the state.  They were produced at taxpayer expense.
          All the power brokers in this town know Cherry.  He's served in the house and senate and has been one of the few reliable sources that the current governor can lean on to get her agenda through a sometimes recalcitrant legislature.
          But beyond Lansing, Cherry is much like a former unknown politician running for governor years ago.  Nobody knew who the Senate Majority leader was either, but by the time he got through with the sitting governor Jim Blanchard, everyone knew Gov. John Engler.
          In other words you can overcome a lack of name identification and the  PSA's on the minimum wage are aimed at doing just that.
          Cherry proudly announces the new minimum wage which will have widespread appeal to part of his democratic power base. They will be happy to get the raise and maybe they'll remember John Cherry when they cash their first check.  At least that's what he's hoping.
          The "freebie" is just one of the benefits of being in office and Cherry concedes the point.  "When you're engaged in politics you get opportunities."
           And if you're smart you take them, and Cherry just did.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This will be expensive

     The TV and radio stations around the state can hear a giant ca-ching as a potential $20 million battle over legalization of embryonic stem cell research begins to unfold soon.
      In this corner, the bi-partisan coalition hoping to wipe out the current state ban on that research.  And in that corner, Michigan Right to Life hoping to keep it.
      Former democratic candidate for governor Larry Owen, who heads the pro-research effort, discloses his budget will top $10 million.  Michigan RTL with help from the Michigan Catholic Conference and others will likely see that $10 mil and raise it to who knows how much?
     Owen and company need about 350,000 petition signatures to get it on the ballot.  He claims they have 400,000 right now with more coming in by the filing deadline of July 7th.
     The anti-embryonic folks have assumed all along that the question would get to the ballot, and they've fashioned a message to defeat it.  "This permits human cloning," contends Right to Life lobbyist Ed Rivet.
      Owen dismisses that as "grossly dishonest."
      Owen will also argue that using embryos that are now being "tossed in the trash" will help cure diseases and save lives.  Rivet in his ads will argue this research will destroy human life.
      The stem cell issue starts out with strong public support, but the other side has not begun to fight.  Rivet reminds anyone who will listen that when there was a push to legalize assisted suicide, it also had widespread support, but when they counted the votes, it was defeated.
       The TV and radio stations will be more than happy to provide the paid airtime to see if history will repeat itself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

D's Vs. R's: Nasty

  D's Vs. R's:  Nasty
      This will get ugly.
      Senate democrats tried a coup d'etat that failed but may have succeeded in setting off a civil war with angry senate republicans.
       The capitol press corps loved the story that left the Senate GOP leader muttering. "It's disgusting…(the democrats) don't care about the rest of the state.  It's all about their political agenda," griped Sen. Mike Bishop of Oakland County.
        Here's the skinny.
        When everyone showed up for work on  Thursday morning, the senate GOP was in charge as it is every morning because it has 22 votes to the democrats 17. 
       Ah, but democrats did a quick head count and found that four republicans were missing in action giving the GOP only 18 votes. So the D's, with the help of one of those republicans Senator Bruce Patterson of Canton Township, moved to take control and ordered a Call of the Senate.
        That is a procedure whereby all the doors are locked, no one can leave, and the missing senators are summoned to return.  One of them was in Washington D.C. and the other in the former Soviet Union where he and his wife were adopting a new baby.  The other two were somewhere in the state capitol.
       Senate republicans were livid on two fronts.  First, they were caught with their political pants down, and secondly one of their own, Mr. Patterson, participated in the coup.
        Patterson had good reason. For weeks he's been miffed at Bishop and company for allegedly not fulfilling a promise to move on an annexation bill that Patterson wants for his district.
        So the democrats offered to move Patterson's bill but the effort failed because two of the tardy R's finally appeared.
        Democrat and Lt. Governor John Cherry defended the move saying his party was only trying, in a bipartisan way, to help Patterson.
        But what he didn't confirm was that the D's had a chance to mess with the republicans and they took it.
        None of this will contribute to a sense of harmony when everyone returns next week to work on the budget.
        And to make matters worse, Bishop hinted that Patterson might be "disciplined" for his behavior and Senator Patterson will not take that lying down.
        This will get ugly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Big Al: Plus Or Minus?

   Big Al: Plus Or Minus?
       Oh my, the right wing boo-birds and magpies were out in force when Big Al Gore showed up in the Motor City to bless Barack Obama for president earlier this week.
        Former White House political mastermind Karl Rove squawked on the FOX News channel that if you were an autoworker in Detroit and saw Gore with Obama rubbing elbows, you would not be impressed given Gore's comments about the U.S. auto industry and it's carbon-burning and gas-guzzling contribution to the global warming crisis.
       If Rove is right, why in the heck did the Obama gang pick Motown for the embrace?
       Either they didn't think about it, or they did think about it and concluded there was more up than down to the joint appearance.
       Regardless, it once more thrust Michigan into the national political lime light for the second time in as many months.  Obama, who has been on a fence-mending mission in Michigan, first pulled the John Edward's endorsement out of his hat in Grand Rapids and then the Gore embrace at the Joe.
       What the right-wingers missed in their instant and negative analysis is that Gore brought something else to the party.  Obama has stirred up the youth vote in this country and feeding them Mr. Oscar and Nobel Prize winner Gore only serves to cement the young vote for this ticket. 
       B.O.'s goal is to get more of them to the polls than senior citizens who are backing the 71-year-old GOP nominee John McCain.  Traditionally seniors have been the largest voting block in the nation.
      But Obama hopes to flip that age equation and he's calculated that having Gore at his side will do just that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Devos take two

       When he first ran for governor it was painfully clear that while Dick DeVos said he had a plan to revamp Michigan's ugly economy, he didn't put much meat on the bones on how to do it, beyond his mantra of, "I'm a business man and I know how to do this."
       Of course, he had a spiffy and multi-colored 68 page document, "The Michigan Turnaround Plan" but while it looked good and had plenty of pictures, it contained a ton of vague generalities such as the need to reduce health care costs, increase funding for education, cut government red tape, etc. etc. etc.  In other words it was long on the what we need to do, but woefully short in many instances on how to do it.
       Now comes Dick DeVos for Governor Take Two with the hint that not much has changed.
       The reference here is to an editorial he sent to the Michigan Chronicle entitled "Moving Michigan Forward."
       He suggested he had a few "specific" ideas to offer that would produce "real change."
       Some were very specific and he gets high marks for taking a stand.  For example: "It's time for you to step aside, Kwame.  You did some very good things for the city and we are grateful, but you are hurting us, not helping us."
       It took political courage to wade into the Kilpatrick mess.
       Likewise as he spoke to local governments, he was clear. He told them to consolidate or cooperate to reduce costs and "get to work."
       But then his rhetoric gets a little less direct and reminiscent of the last campaign.
      "We better fix our tax system now…"  But how?
      "No more excuses, just fix our roads."  But how?
      "We have too many violent criminals on our streets…and it doesn't need to "get a little better"…it needs to end!" But how?
       A DeVos defender argues there is plenty of time to lay out the "hows" and his editorial was not a campaign document.  Plus this source says on the energy issue at a recent conference, DeVos had plenty of specific ideas.
      O.K. let's give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he will offer more specifics as 2010 rolls around.  After all he is not even a candidate, yet.  But interestingly his commentary was paid for by "DeVos for Governor."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bishop Ponders A.G. Contest

     To no one's surprise in this town, the senate GOP leader confirms he is thinking about running for state attorney general but reserves a final decision for later on.
      In his most extensive comments to date to Right Michigan, the conservative blog, Rochester Hills Senator Mike Bishop confesses, "I'm extremely interested in that option.  I believe I'm well suited for it" and in case you missed the point he tacks on, "I believe I would thrive in that department…"
      Roll out the "Bishop for A.G." bumper stickers?
      The Majority Leader who will be out of work in two years due to term limits says he has experience in prosecution and consumer law and he boasts, "It's really been my focus in the legislature so far to protect the consumer."
     Bishop hints it might be a refreshing change from laboring in a politically divided legislature where the democrats run the house and the governor's office to being in the executive branch where he would run the whole show concluding, "If there is an opportunity to lead the Executive branch in the future I would consider that option with equal vigor."
     Bishop's name has been on the speculation list for months regarding the A.G.'s post.  Asked several week ago about a potential match up with his senate democratic colleague Gretchen Whitmer, Bishop laughed it off suggesting he had more important things to worry about at the moment.
    If he gets into the race in two years, he'd have a bigger worry than Whitmer at the outset.  He'd have to beat another GOP contender, Bill Schuette, for the nomination.  Schuette, who relinquished a sure seat on the State Court of Appeals to run for A.G., has more statewide election experience that Bishop, but that may be irrelevant since the nomination is not decided by the voters but in a party convention.
    Bishop says, "We'll assess it as we go forward and as that date gets closer make a determination."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The "D" Word

       The "D" Word
       If Kwame Kilpatrick's name was in a thesaurus, you would find the synonym "distraction" next to it.
       The Mayor of Detroit and his legal woes has become a huge distraction if you believe the folks who are watching this drama unfold.
       Governor Jennifer Granholm uses the word; Dick Blouse who runs the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce uses the word; the head of Consumers Energy's and Detroit Renaissance member David Joos uses the word and now even the man himself agrees.
       "This is my choice," the mayor says as he decides to skip the Barack Obama events in Motown this week. Kilpatrick says he does not want to be a distraction adding, "I want Barack Obama to have his moment."  That huge sigh of relief you hear is from the Obama camp.
        It is interesting that the mayor has reached the same conclusion that was the topic of discussion up on the Island during the recent leadership conference of business titans.
       A panel of journalists, to the person, concluded that when the democratic nominee for president ventured into Detroit he should not be seen with Mr. Kilpatrick.
       Little did the panel know that in the back of the room just off the main dinning room in the Grand Hotel sat the mother of the mayor.  Suffice it to say Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick was not pleased with the remarks.  Her feelings were totally understandable being the mom and all of her embattled off spring.
       Once she told her son about the comments, the mayor himself dismissed the journalist's comments as "crap."  
       But somewhere between the "crap" and right now, reality has apparently sunk it.  It was an act of statesmanship for the mayor to do his buddy Barack a favor by simply bowing out for the next two days as Obama stumps in Detroit for the first time. 
      The nominee for president did not need any photos standing next to you know who.  That would have been the story in Detroit and Obama's "Yes We Can" message would have been ignored by the media.
       So give the mayor credit.  His decision amounts to no harm, no foul, and more importantly for Obama, no distraction.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This Poll Counts

     This Poll Counts
         Normally presidential polls 145 days before the election are next to meaningless, but the media publishes them anyway because it's easier than talking about the issues.
         That not withstanding, the recent TV-2 Rasmussen survey is noteworthy because it is the bench mark for what follows.  It was the first poll completed after Barack Obama wrapped up the nomination and it shows him and John McCain in a statistical dead heat in the head to head.
        What is more important are some of the internal numbers.
        Obama continues to have a challenge with male voters.  McCain holds an eleven-point edge but that is down from a 19-point lead he enjoyed last month.  In other words, Obama is making inroads with males.
       The female vote holds steady for the democratic nominee as he has a 13-point lead there.
       Older voters are evenly divided and Obama continues to win the under 30 vote.
       But here is the number that stands out.  McCain, after having some problems appealing to the conservative wing of his party, is getting 83% of the total GOP vote.  Obviously not everyone is on board, yet, but it's a respectable number.
      However Obama is worse off.  He corrals only 74% of the democratic vote.  While that is up four points over last month, it strongly suggests that the top democrat is not the top democrat with some democrats.
      Perhaps those are disgruntled Hillary Clinton backers who are still not on board despite the Hill's pleading to do so. Perhaps there are some white democrats who are not comfortable with an African American leading the ticket.  That has been a problem in other states.
     As for the so-called dream ticket of Obama-Clinton: 55% of Michigan democrats say yes while 31% say no thanks.
     Democrats remain confident Michigan will remain a blue state while the GOP schemes to turn it red.  Right now it's a decided deep purple…a blend of both.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Will Get Nasty

    This Will Get Nasty
        There are lots of unwritten rules in politics, none of which they teach in school.  Near the top of the list is:  You never challenge an incumbent office holder from your own party.  It is simply a no-no.
        Apparently State Senator Martha Scott and former State Rep. Mary Waters didn't get that memo. The two Detroit democrats are taking on incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick this August in what has all the makings of a knock-down, drag-out battle royale and it's only June.
        Waters has clearly been the aggressor so far.  She opened her campaign by suggesting that Ms. Kilpatrick had not filed enough petition signatures to run for reelection.  But then Waters had to sheepishly confess, she got that wrong.
        Now comes Waters with billboards and possible TV commercials dragging a certain Mayor of Detroit into the race involving his mother.  Oh my, and it's only June.
        The ad runs a clip from a 2005 campaign rally in which Mom Kilpatrick is exhorting the crowd to "Don't let nobody talk about yaw's boy."
         And then the Water's camp tacks on this line, "Sorry, Congresswoman, but we deserve much better than yaw's boy."  Oh yeah, the spot also says something about "eight felony counts"…whatever that means.
         And it's only June.
         For her part Senator Scott, who has never been a cog in the Kilpatrick political machine, refuses to join in the "fun" even though the Mayor tried to take her out the last time she ran for the senate.
         "I didn't bring her son's problems in the race," she asserts and adds she has no plans to do so.  Asked if Waters was wrong to do so, Scott punted, "You will have to ask that person." 
          But she does suggest that Mom Kilpatrick has not done a very good job of representing the district and concludes, "I am much better than her."
          And it's only June.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So You Think You've Got Problems

  So You Think You've Got Problems
      Republicans have been saying it for years, "The governor has no power."  Well, guess what?  This time they were right.
      Gov. Jennifer Granholm was powerless, literally.  A series of thunderstorms that rumbled through the capitol city also knocked out the juice at the executive residence on the southwest side of Lansing.
      The state does have a small back-up generator at the home but it was not powerful enough to restore all the electricity the First Family needs.
       As a result, the governor was taking cold showers; had no access to her Internet, and was living without the conveniences of modern day life. 
       All this must have been sort of an embarrassment for the Lansing Board of Water and Light which supplies the energy to the executive residence.
       When first contacted for an update, spokesperson Mark Nixon said he had no idea whether the power was restored because the BWL was more concerned about taking care of the elderly and others who need the air conditioning.  Nixon advised that taking care of the governor's constituents was in reality a higher priority and the governor would probably agree.
      He then checked and discovered the juice had been restored so the governor is not powerless any more…at least not at home.  In the Michigan House that may be another question?
      Still under the heading of "You Think You've Got Problems," instead of paying just over 4 bucks a gallon for your petro, you could be paying a whopping five dollars plus…if you lived on popular Beaver Island just off the west coast of the state near Charlevoix.
      Word reaches the mainland that over the Memorial Day weekend the price at the Four Corners gas station was $5.29 a gallon.  Former GOP State Senator Phil Hoffman who has a place on the island filled up his gas guzzler Chevy Suburban to the tune of $175 and he adds, "I shutter to think what it will cost over the 4th of July."
     So rejoice at your $4.09 a gallon.  It could be worse.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Getting Leon

  Getting Leon
      Following in the footsteps of former President Richard Nixon, the Macomb County leader of twelve ill-fated anti-tax recall campaigns says he is not a crook either.  Tell that to State Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer.
      Brewer has been on a mission from God to get Leon Drolet and when word filtered out that Drolet would appear on Off the Record on public TV this past weekend, Brewer was on the horn just to make sure that tough questions about illegal campaign activities were hurled at Drolet.
      Brewer and company allege that Drolet presided over a fraudulent effort to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon that supposedly included dead persons circulating recall petitions, homeless people writing names from the phone book on the petitions, and who knows what all.
       Drolet says he did nothing illegal and is "unaware" of others breaking the law.  Notice the use of the word unaware which gives Drolet an out if the state attorney general actually discovers laws were broken.  On a lesser note, he does concede he could have done a better oversight job to ferret out mistakes that were made, but of them were criminal.
      Brewer's not buying that.  He says Drolet ran the campaign and should shoulder the legal responsibility for any wrongdoing.
      While they won't say it, you can pretty much surmise that the D's want to make an example of Drolet as a warning to others who would try to boot lawmakers who vote for a tax hike.
      If Drolet is shivering in his boots over the prospects of being charged with a crime, he sure didn't reveal it when he did the OTR taping.
      In fact he suggested that if anybody broke the law it was Brewer and he, Drolet, would explore his legal options against his fellow Macomb County "friend.".
      Meanwhile Drolet will be in the courts this week trying to salvage the Dillon recall effort.  The state ruled last week he did not get enough petition signatures to place the issue before Redford voters in August.
     If he fails in the courts, Drolet admits his public stock will go down.  No duh.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Nothing To Smile About

  Nothing To Smile About
       There will be some of you who will file this under, "Kick Her While She Is Down" but honestly that is not the intent.
       Reporters have an ingrained bias when it comes to covering politicians i.e. you want access and the ability to talk with them.
       If you were to poll the boys and girls on the bus, the infamous Straight Talk Express, you'd find that while many of the correspondents don't agree with John McCain's policy statements, they like the guy cause they can get at him.
       Such was not the case with the recently departed candidate Hillary Clinton.  Accessibility to the media has never been one of her strong suits…never.
       One recalls an appearance years ago at the MSU auditorium.  Ms. Clinton, then First Lady, gave a speech and foolishly, a reporter thought he could get in a few questions much like interviewing the governor.
       Not even close. As the Hill worked the rope line, there was this  wall of aides around her and if you even thought about sticking a microphone in her face, you got "that" look and if the look didn't work, you got the heave ho.
      So when it came to her weekend farewell speech, you were left to watch from afar.  The soon to be ex-candidate hit all the right notes.  She thanked her backers; she said she was ending her effort; she embraced Obama for president and pledged to worked as hard as she could to get him into the White House and much to the delight of the Obama camp she urged her 18 million supporters to do the same.
     It was beautifully scripted except she left out one thing…her smile.
     Having watched her from afar on C-Span for months, whenever Ms. Clinton delivered a good line, it was followed by a very nice smile that stretched from one side of her face to the other.
     But there was none of that in her concession speech which left the impression that she may have said all the right things, but her heart was not in it.
     Maybe someday some enterprising reporter will get a chance to ask her if that's true?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cobo-Red Wing Combo?

  Cobo-Red Wing Combo?
        This should get everyone's attention.  For years there's been chatter about expanding Cobo Hall and for years there's been an equal amount of speculation concerning a new home for the Stanley Cup champs.
        Now comes a proposal to link the two.
        "Maybe it's time for us to build a new Joe Lewis right there down at the Cobo Center where we could also expand Cobo Hall at the same time."  That from Detroit democrat Rep. George Cushingberry whose eyes light up at the prospect of a joint project with the state, city and the Ilitch family.
         The family remains on radio silence but it is aware of the overtures from the politicians including Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano according to one source.
         The Red Wings lease on the current Joe Lewis arena will expire soon and if the family entered into a combo deal, and please note nobody is saying that will happen, the Ilitch's would need an extension on the current lease.
         Cushingberry remains upbeat about the project noting that, "Wouldn't it be wonderful…like some creative thing to get us out of the box that we are in.  It's my understanding, and you can verify this, that Mr. Ilitch and his family are very interested in seeing what we might do."  The project might include some state dollars according to Cush and a lease back arrangement that could generate new dollars for state coffers.
         House Speaker Andy Dillon who is working with the governor and the senate GOP leader Mike Bishop to find a way to expand Cobo Hall says he has heard about the combination approach from Cushingberry and the Speaker is interested in the concept.  He, the governor and Bishop however have not discussed the possibility.
         Described by one source as a "very sensitive" issue, it will be interesting to see where it goes from here…if anywhere.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Political Laryngitis

    Political Laryngitis
         The Fat Lady was on stage with Hillary Clinton Tuesday night, but instead of singing, she only hummed.  Hum?
          Look it, the party is over.  Obama is the nominee. Clinton and company lost.  Everyone expected her to acknowledge that. But instead of a gracious nod to the winner, Ms. Clinton would only note that he ran a good campaign.
         How much effort would it have taken to say instead, "I want Barack Obama to know that he will make a great president and one way or the other, I will be with him in getting to the White House."
         But no.  What she defiantly gave was, "I will make no decisions tonight."
         If she was auditioning for the second spot on the ticket, there was not much in her speech to endear her to him.
         Her stance, from a hardball political standpoint, was the right thing to do.  She wants to have some leverage when she sits down with the winner to negotiate what she's willing to do for the ticket.  As long as she holds off her embrace, the more she can extract from him as the price for the endorsement.
        It is vintage Clinton game playing.
        In strong contrast, Obama during his speech was over the top gracious to his former opponent.  Sure it is easy to be gracious when you win, but he did wax on about her, when she said virtually nothing about him.
        How all this played in the bowels of the Obama camp is up for grabs as they ponder putting her on the ticket.
        Gov. Jennifer Granholm thinks an Obama-Clinton ticket would be great.  Betting money suggests not everyone agrees.
        And on the topic of the governor, just after Tuesday's blog appeared suggesting that Ms. Granholm should sit down with the top two legislative leaders, that's exactly what happened.
        GOP leader Mike Bishop was pleased but notes its been two and half months since he met with her.  And there were similar comments from Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon who's been frustrated over the lack of face time with the governor, too.
        Well when the gov's folks got wind of that criticism, the word went out that she's been diligent in reaching out to the two gentlemen but the overture has not always been returned.
        Sounds like a classic "he said, she said" disagreement.  Either way most in town would agree that it's good that they are meeting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Big Two

  Big Two
     Michigan is full of Bigs.  We've got the Big Three automakers, the so-called Big Four leaders from Southeast Michigan and it looks like we have a new combo…the Big Two minus one.
     It looks like the legislature's top democrat and top republican have decided to go it alone on resolving issues and apparently leaving you know who out of the loop.
     Now don't jump to any far-fetched conclusions; Rep. Andy Dillon and Sen. Mike Bishop are not about to ignore Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but the two guys did meet behind closed doors this week and she was not there.
     They kicked around the expansion of Cobo Hall, the smoking ban in bars and eateries, and spending on airport and university building projects.
      Interestingly all three were major items on the agenda at last weeks Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce gig on Mackinac Island where Bishop and Dillon and the governor got an earful about bickering and too much partisanship in Lansing.
      One might have thought the governor, who professes to be an active listener, would sash shay home and promptly invite the two guys into her office to hammer out some movement on these big-ticket items.
      Maybe the invite got lost in the mail.  Or maybe, just maybe it was never sent, which is why the two guys went off on their own?
      In a recent Detroit News column it was noted that the governor and two leaders have not exactly been burning up the midnight oil trying to get their collective arms around some mucho important issues.
     Granholm defenders might point out she's been at home recuperating from that operation that she is embarrassed to talk about.  True, she's been confined to the Executive Residence, but she held meetings with her personal staff during her absence from the capitol.
     Popular wisdom suggests that nothing can get done in the capitol unless the Big Three cooperate.  Short of that, it looks like citizens, for now, will have to settle for the Big Two minus one.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bishop's Slip Of The Lip

      Bishop's Slip Of The Lip
         If Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop has any designs on running for higher office, he better re-think his rhetorical ruffles and flourishes surrounding the smoking ban issue.
         The scene:  Mackinac Island in front of a very pro-business group.
         The issue: a smoking ban in work places, bars, eateries, and other public places.
          The screw-up:  Bishop is waxing on about how he personally opposes government interference into the private sector while at the same time he acknowledges there is a concern over second hand smoke and the health of employees.
          He detects a disapproving rumble in the crowd on the workplace smoking issue and Bishop says, "I know that's a concern, but it's a small number of people."  Small number…oh.oh.
          Now the rumbling escalates, but the good senator inserts his foot deeper into his mouth. He tacks on this ditty: "These people have the opportunity in this state to choose where they work as well."
         So in thirty short seconds Bishop manages to diminish the magnitude of the work place health issue and basically tells workers to find another job if they don't like it.  Good luck doing that in Michigan.
         "We have to figure out that issue as well," he tried to regain some respectability by saying he would work on the employee second hand smoke question.
         He also warned the disgruntled audience that it should be careful because once government starts to interfere, who knows where it will end?
         Dollars to donuts some democrat in the audience will get a hold of the video tape and if Bishop runs for something, he may have to confront his words again and again as they may pop up in an attack ad someday down the road. 

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One In-One Out

  One In and One Out
       Michigan democrats have finally landed on a candidate to run for the state supreme court. Barring an 11th hour change of strategy, Marietta Robinson will take on incumbent GOP Chief Justice Cliff Taylor in what could be the most expensive and contentious court contests ever.
       Robinson is an Oakland County attorney and ran unsuccessfully against Taylor last time out.  But this time her party believes she has a good chance at winning because Taylor has compiled a record the democrats will try to use against him.
      Robinson has been out of the country but look for a formal announcement from the party soon.
      The Robinson candidacy has the blessing of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
      Both Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer and GOP chair Saul Anuzis predict the race will cost upwards of $20 million which would be an all time high for the high court seat.
      During her only televised debate with Taylor during the last campaign, Robinson was very aggressive as she hurled one accusation after another at the sitting justice.  At one point, Taylor opined, "If what you say is true, you should not be (talking to the moderator) about this.  You should be talking to the sheriff."
      While Robinson prepares to jump into the statewide contest, Upper Peninsula democrat Rep. Bart Stupak is jumping out of the race for governor.
      Last year on Mackinac Island the congressman expressed interest in seeking the nomination. This year on the island his mind had changed.
     "I'm not running," he declared after a seminar he attended with other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation on Friday.
      "Should we take your name off the list?"
      He said yes.
      Stupak who is running for reelection to Congress gave no reasons for dropping out before he ever got in.