New and Notes: The National Scene
Try them on crostini with arrugula and truffle confit (sorry, Top Chef moment):
Edwards Clings to Iowa Lead - A new Strategic Vision poll has former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) holding on in Iowa at 23%, virtually tied with Sen Barack Obama at 22% and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) at 21%. Gov. Bill Richardson is at 14%. Like Romney, who has a bigger lead in Iowa on the GOP side (31%, compared to Thompson at 15% and Giuliani at 13%), Edward's big hope is to pivot upward from an Iowa victory in terms of fund-raising and momentum going into later races. Thus, it is very bad news for the Edwards camp that Michigan Republicans are trying to advance that state's primary to January 15th. That move would cause New Hampshire to move up its primary to the first week of January, and Iowa's state law requires that its caucuses be held both before any other state and within the same calendar year as the election. If the Iowa caucuses are held on or around the New Year's Day holiday, they are likely to be of diminished significance.
Time Magazine Pokes Some Holes in Giuliani's "Tough on Terror" Image - The latest issues looks closely at the question of how well Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) prepared for a terrorist attack before 9/11:
Giuliani spent eight years presiding over a city that was a known terrorist target. ... On 9/11, he earned the trust of most Americans; one year later, 78% of those surveyed by the Marist Institute had a favorable impression of Giuliani. ... The evidence also shows great, gaping weaknesses. Giuliani's penchant for secrecy, his tendency to value loyalty over merit and his hyperbolic rhetoric are exactly the kinds of instincts that counterterrorism experts say the U.S. can least afford right now.NIE Report Says Iraqi Leaders "Unable to Govern Effectively" - Edwards and Richardson are sparring with Clinton over her comment in a speech to the VFW that new tactics have produced some limited success in parts of Iraq, but the political situation in Iraq seems to be washing out from under our military forces like so much beach sand at high tide. The latest National Intelligence Estimate released today says that civilian casualties remain high, sectarian groups are fighting, al Qaeda in Iraq is still committing high-profile attacks, and "to date, Iraqi leaders remain unable to govern effectively." What is the significance of a little military progress when the political reconciliation that this "surge" was supposed to produce remains as unlikely as ever?
Dumping al-Maliki to Stay the Course? - Uh oh. A scary piece by Craig Crawford at CQPolitics suggests that Bush's mixed signals about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could presage a shuffling of political leadership in Iraq, as a predicate to arguing that the new leadership needs more time to achieve success, much as "rearranging the military uniforms on the ground" last winter became the basis for buying more time for the military campaign.
Mapping Clinton vs. Giuliani - Wow. Chris Bowers at OpenLeft has taken state-by-state polling information on the head-to-head matchup of Clinton and Giuliani and created a map showing the results if the election were held today, and it looks like this:
Clinton wins the election, 335 electoral votes to 203. And this is the "least electable" of the Democratic front runners.