Tales from the Trail

Democratic congressman says he wants to make Obama ‘a better president’

Veteran Democratic Congressman John Conyers voiced some disappointment in President Barack Obama — and said he wants to help the leader of his party to do better. USA/

In a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, Conyers criticized Obama on a number of fronts — from his overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system and management of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to agreeing to Republican demands last year to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, was first elected to Congress in 1964 — three years before after Obama was born. He backs Obama, but says, “I just want to make him a better president.”

Conyers is not alone in his complaints. A number of Democrats in Congress have expressed frustration with Obama, particularly for what they describe as his failure to push harder on liberal issues.

“The recent debate on healthcare has allowed opponents of the new law to say we have gone too far — when the truth is we have not gone far enough,” said Conyers, a backer of “a single payer” approach that would have a greater government involvement in delivery of health care.

THIS JUST IN — Conservatives Find Home in GOP

USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTS

The term “conservative Republican” may seem like a truism nowadays. But a new Gallup survey answers some interesting questions about just who those conservatives are — and who they are not.

The GOP is growing more conservative. Seventy-one percent of Republicans and Republican-voting independents call themselves conservatives today. That’s up from 62 percent in 2000, when the Bush-Gore presidential election split the country down the middle and had to be settled by the Supreme Court. Conservatives accounted for 66 percent of Republicans in 2006.

The latest Gallup findings say only 29 percent of Republicans are moderates or liberals — yes, this implies the continued but perilous existence of the species known as Republican Liberals. 

White House spokesman’s “professional left” comment bites back

If the White House was trying to fire up its liberal base ahead of the Nov. 2 elections, this was probably not the way to go about it.

USA/White House spokesman Robert Gibbs criticized the “professional left” for criticizing his boss, President Barack Obama, but the comment came back to bite him.

He’s talking about the various liberal cable TV talking heads and bloggers who complain the president isn’t living up to his promises to them.

Mixing it up: Race, Tea Party, NAACP, Palin

The NAACP’s resolution calling on leaders of the Tea Party movement to repudiate “racist elements” within its ranks has set off a political firestorm. The civil rights group illustrated its accusations with photographs taken at rallies that show supporters carrying controversial signs criticizing President Barack Obama.

USA/Sarah Palin, a star of the Tea Party movement, responded with a missive on Facebook saying she was saddened by the NAACP’s charge of racism and accused the group of using “the divisive language of the past.”

Critics of the conservative Tea Party movement have questioned whether it is a racist movement, citing the largely white turnout at rallies and some of the signs carried by supporters. Conservatives say the liberals are using a low blow to counter genuine criticism of Obama’s policies.

Coffee Party USA takes on the Tea Party

America’s conservative Tea Party movement may be on the boil, but the left is brewing up its own version in The Coffee Party USA.

The movement has launched itself on the social networking site Facebook where it has acquired more than 50,000 fans over the past month. You can see some news reports and commentary about it here and here and here.

coffee

Under the battle cry “The Coffee Party USA: Wake Up and Stand Up” it is asking people to host a Coffee Party event on their March 13 “kick-off.”

Democrats may face a new challenge: rising conservatism

The Democratic Party’s hopes of retaining control of Congress in November are already reeling from a spate of Senate retirements and the political flap surrounding last month’s failed bomb attack on a Detroit-bound airliner. Now comes a potential new hurdle: growing conservatism among the American public.

Gallup polling data show that conservatives became the biggest potential voting bloc in 2009. Forty percent of Americans called themselves ‘conservative’ last year, compared with 36 percent who said they were ‘moderate’ and 21 percent who described themselves as ‘liberal.’
USA/
The findings, which have an error margin of 1 percentage point, come from an aggregate of 21 separate Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys, spanning nearly 22,000 interviews.

Gallup polling data also show that the number of Americans calling themselves moderate has fallen over the past decade, while conservatives and liberals have gained ground.

Pelosi tells Harvard students she read every page of healthcare bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told students at Harvard University on Friday that she had indeed done her reading.

Taking questions during the 90-minute event, Pelosi assured one skeptical undergraduate that she, and many other House members, had read “every page” of the roughly 1,900-page healthcare bill passed by the House. 

She expounded on leadership qualities, healthcare reform, the impact of more women in Congress, troops to Afghanistan — oh, and healthcare reform. USA-HEALTHCARE/

Gallup poll: conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals

What’s in a political label?

POLITICS/MCCAIN

Well Gallup has found that more Americans identify themselves as conservatives than those who call themselves moderate or liberal.

On the question of political ideology, 40 percent of those surveyed said they were conservative, 36 percent were moderate, and 20 percent liberal.

“This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group,” Gallup says.

U.S. conservative talk radio: little fondness for Kennedy legacy

Ted Kennedy’s polarizing political legacy was on full display on Wednesday as some U.S. conservatives showed little restraint in their hostility for the veteran liberal senator who died late on Tuesday. 

USA

Conservative talk radio hosts blasted away at the policies of Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party and a standard bearer of liberal causes who died at age 77 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh said the political left was “exploiting his death and his legacy” to advance President Barack Obama’s agenda for healthcare reform, which was also one of Kennedy’s signature issues.