- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2006

Risky business

“While there is no doubting the vitriol that Democrats feel for Sen. Joseph Lieberman nowadays, there is certainly a great deal of doubt concerning the strategy of isolating Lieberman. Or at least, there should be.” Pejman Yousefzadehwrites at www.tcsdaily.com.

“Not only are Democrats in danger of antagonizing a present and potentially future colleague of theirs, they are also in danger of antagonizing a significant segment of the Democratic Party itself. We have seen them do it before,” said Mr. Yousefzadeh, who compares Mr. Lieberman to the late Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a Washington Democrat and defense hawk whose top foreign-policy aides eventually abandoned the Democratic Party and became high-profile members of the Reagan administration, leading the way for blue-collar “Reagan Democrats.”

“The apostasy of the Reagan Democrats continues to plague the Democratic Party and its electoral efforts. In addition to having to try to return the Reagan Democrats back to the Democratic fold on values issues, the Democrats have to establish their foreign-policy credentials for the Reagan Democrats to turn their backs on electoral cooperation with the Republican Party.

“This is a tall order for the Democrats. So it is more than a little puzzling that they would make their job even more difficult by alienating anew Reagan Democrats and Democrats who identified with the foreign-policy views of Scoop Jackson by seeking to ostracize Joe Lieberman.”

Countdown clock’

“With President Bush’s sagging poll numbers and the possibility that Democrats might take back the House in November,White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten has developed a special motivational technique to keep West Wing staffers focused on getting things done in the next 2 years,” Dan Gilgoff writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Bolten has distributed to key aides a ‘countdown clock’ — a cellphone-size timepiece that gives a digital readout of the time remaining in the Bush presidency. When he showed it to U.S. News chief White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh last week, the clock showed 873 days, 21 hours, 21 minutes, and 17 seconds until the next president is sworn on Jan. 20, 2009.

“‘I keep that clock as a reminder to myself that we have a lot of days left,’ Bolten says. ‘We have ample time to accomplish many things, but not so many that we can waste a single day … and I know that’s the president’s attitude. He wants to make the most of the time that we have left.’

“Bolten was reminded that Bush has roughly the same number of days left that Gerald Ford had in his entire administration. ‘It’s a good amount of time,’ he replied. One top priority: preparing a 2007 White House push for expanded use of nuclear energy and biofuels as a way to lessen dependence on foreign oil.”

Truth or rumor?

Medicare and Medicaid chief Mark McClellan intends to resign, the Dallas Morning News reported yesterday. An announcement could come as early as tomorrow, the newspaper said.

Mr. McClellan, a physician and economist, was one of President Bush’s economic advisers and served as the Food and Drug Administration commissioner before he was tapped in 2004 to administer the government’s health programs for the elderly and impoverished, respectively.

Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department, had no comment on the report when contacted yesterday by the Associated Press. Mr. McClellan’s personal spokesman, Jeff Nelligan, told the AP that he had not heard that Mr. McClellan would be resigning and said that rumors of such changes were common.

Shays explains

A Republican lawmaker fighting for re-election said yesterday he has not turned against President Bush’s Iraq policy, but called for a withdrawal timetable to light a fire under the Iraqi government.

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican who is up against an anti-war Democrat, said his support of the war has not waned. Nor, he said, was his suggestion for a pullout timeline prompted by the primary defeat of another war supporter in his state, Democratic Sen. JoeLieberman. Mr. Lieberman is now running for re-election as an independent.

“I don’t know where Iraq takes me in terms of an election because I support the war in Iraq,” Mr. Shays said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “I haven’t changed my position one bit. I just want to light a fire under [the Iraqi] government.”

Poll pioneer dies

Warren Mitofsky, the man who invented the exit poll, died Friday at age 71.

Mr. Mitofsky developed the election projection and analysis system used by CBS News and later by a consortium of news organizations. He first conducted an exit poll in 1967 in a Kentucky governor’s election for CBS News. He conducted the first national exit poll in 1972 and covered nearly 3,000 electoral contests in all.

“It’s because of Warren Mitofsky that America — and the world — has become accustomed to learning who won an election quickly and reliably, and what the election meant to the voters themselves,” Kathleen Frankovic, director of surveys at CBS News, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Mitofsky was executive director of CBS News election and survey unit from 1967 until 1990, and in 1993 founded Mitofsky International.

Mr. Mitofsky directed exit polls in the 1990 and 1992 U.S. elections for the first network election pool. That led to the creation of Voter News Service, which later disbanded because of problems covering the 2000 and 2002 elections.

Mitofsky International then joined with Edison Media Research to conduct U.S. exit polls for the Associated Press and television networks, but was criticized for leaked preliminary results in 2004 that indicated a win by Democrat John Kerry.

Close in Michigan

A poll published yesterday shows the race for Michigan governor is about even.

In the poll of 803 likely voters by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, 46 percent of voters said they’d back Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm if the election were held today, while 44 percent would back Republican challenger Dick DeVos and 10 percent were undecided.

A Selzer poll in July showed Mr. DeVos, with 47 percent, leading Mrs. Granholm, with 42 percent. Eight percent were undecided, and 3 percent were counted as “other.”

“We assume we’ll be behind the entire fall,” said John Truscott, a DeVos campaign spokesman. “We’re the challenger to an incumbent. We’re pretty satisfied with where we are.”

Granholm campaign spokesman Chris DeWitt said the poll shows that Mr. DeVos’ recent ad campaign critical of the governor’s ability to bring Michigan jobs has “failed to convince voters he’s the kind of leader the state needs or wants.”

The latest poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday for the Detroit Free Press and Detroit television station WDIV, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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