Sunday, March 12, 2006

Democratic Agenda via Barack Obama

On Face The Nation today, Bob Schieffer advanced the now familiar (and, sadly, hard to dispute) narrative that Democrats have no message. Bring it on, Bob, especially if you're asking Democratic Party star Senator Barack Obama to explain the message for you. His response broke down as follows:

Energy independence. "The notion that we're sending billions of dollars to countries like Iran that are hostile towards us makes no energy policy that switches to alternative fuels and bio-deisel..."

Healthcare. "Having a serious message that says by '08 we 're gonna have every child in America insured and by 2012 we've got every American who's working has accesible health insurance."

Education. "Being serious about ensuring that our young people are competitive around issues of math and science."

Security. "Being serious about the ports, chemical plants, rail, that the 9/11 Commission says we have not adequately protected since 9/11 and has to be part of our national security apparatus."

Yep, four things that took less than a minute and a half to communicate. It's short, it's sweet but is it enough? Is this the Democrats' answer to "less government, lower taxes, and a strong defense"?

Energy independence is an issue that the Democrats would have had to themselves prior to Bush's State of the Union. It's not too late; certainly they have more credibility on the issue than someone who leads a party that doesn't seem to believe humans have had an impact on global warming. But fact is, Bush has used his position to promote alternative fuels and throw money at it. How are Democrats going to distinguish themselves?

Healthcare we do have to ourselves. The challenge? To make sure we don't sound like/are painted as socialist and to avoid (as much as possible) comparisons to "Hillary-care." Seems to me the people are coming around on this issue and Republicans may find themselves flat footed.

Education. This is taking on one of the President's pet issues and even jumping on his "competitiveness" agenda. While it's tricky, Democrats may be onto something here. They may benefit from a sort of "what have you done for me lately" mood toward Bush. No Child Left Behind seems unpopular on many levels.

Security. The Dubai port deal, if nothing else, brought port security to the fore. This is one aspect of homeland security that Democrats have been advocating for and losing for years. This is a winner because it takes on the president where he is supposedly strong but where there is now a chink in his armor.

The upshot? Get used to seeing this phrase in print: "Barack Obama, 2008 Vice Presidential candidate." On second thought, just get used to saying "Vice President Obama."