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D.C. Democrats Try to Refocus Attention on Bush

President George W. Bush speaks to the media January 24, 2008 at the White House in Washington. (Getty Images).

By Peter Baker
As the Democratic presidential candidates and at least one of their spouses descend into a miasma of anger and accusation, party leaders here in Washington are watching with a growing sense of unease and even aggravation. Among those concerned is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is trying to turn the Democratic spears back toward their common enemy, President Bush.

With Bush about to deliver his final State of the Union address this coming Monday, the Illinois congressman and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus headed to the press gallery at the Capitol yesterday to deliver his own assessment of the nation after seven years of Bush. He produced a chart comparing various economic, security and other indicators suggesting that the country is worse off than it was when Bush took office in terms of everything from national debt and household income to military readiness and foreign oil dependency.

"The change that people want in 2008 is a change from George Bush's policies," Emanuel said. "That was clear in 2006 and it's going to be clear in 2008."

Other Democrats are trying to refocus their party's conversation as well. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) plan a news conference today to talk about "Bush's legacy of broken promises."

It's no coincidence that both Emanuel and Kennedy have spoken with former president Bill Clinton to express concern about the way he has been attacking Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the campaign trail. Party leaders in Washington fear that the quarreling between Obama and the Clinton camp will leave their eventual nominee weakened heading toward the general election contest in the fall.

The upcoming State of the Union will in effect fire the starting gun for both sides to use this final year of Bush's term to define his legacy both for the sake of history and for the election. Bush can be expected to use the address to hail his accomplishments of the last seven years from the biggest podium a president gets, which is why Emanuel, Kennedy and the others are trying to preempt him to an extent. Emanuel took great glee in presenting his chart of indicators yesterday, showing, among other things, that today more Americans live in poverty and don't have health care, the price of gas has nearly tripled, median household income has slipped, the cost of college has nearly doubled, consumer debt has increased substantially and so forth.

"I would say that...on the eve of the president's State of the Union, that over the last seven years, America's position -- economically, militarily and culturally -- has been weakened," Emanuel said.

Bush, of course, views it differently and even Emanuel acknowledged that he what he presented was "not the full story." Asked to name any Bush accomplishments, Emanuel volunteered three -- his current efforts to forge peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, his diplomatic work to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and his education accountability program, No Child Left Behind, although he said it needs some revisions.

The White House saw Emanuel's broadside as counterproductive at a moment when Bush and Democratic leaders are working closely together to produce an economic stimulus package. "I would hope that those individuals would take a step back and realize that we have an opportunity to get something done on behalf of the American people," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "But if they want to go down that road and not work with the administration, the label of the do-nothing Congress could stick in 2008 as it did in 2007."

Emanuel scoffed at that notion. "I'd be surprised if the president of the United States will say, 'I'm not working on a stimulus because of Rahm Emanuel's press conference,'" he said. "Only my mother would think he would do that."

But the White House moved to set its own version of Bush's legacy. Vice President Cheney headed over to the Heritage Foundation yesterday to argue on behalf of legislation authorizing the government to eavesdrop on terrorism suspects without warrants and used the opportunity to present Bush as the protector of America following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The relative safety of the six years and four months since 9/11 is not an accident," Cheney said. "It's an achievement. And the achievement is the product of some very hard work by Americans in intelligence, in law enforcement and the military -- and some wise decisions by the president of the United States."

That's what Emanuel and Kennedy and the other Washington Democrats want their candidates to be debating on the road.

Posted at 11:08 AM ET on Jan 24, 2008  | Category:  Morning Cheat Sheet
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Even the "economic" package that is being worked on is still nothing more than want Chimp-in-Chief wants. The Dumbos are caving in again to Bushie. Instead of insisting that any help go to the people who really need it, The Dumbos are caving in again to Bushie's failed policy of cut taxes to big businesses and big money again. I even saw on the Daily Show some segments that had some of their (FakeNews) "economists" blaming the current stock problems on the chance (probability) that the Dems are going to take the WH. I just have to laugh that these stupid, fear-mongering, neo-cons can't/won't even own up to anything. They have such blind hatred and party over country mentality, that nothing is ever their fault and the current problems are because of what "might" happen. These people that were saying this, were even going so far as to state this stuff like it is/was facts and news, and not the blind hate opinion that is is.

Posted by: toppcatt71 | January 24, 2008 4:34 PM

People also want to see the end of the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove school of politics.

Posted by: TomJx | January 24, 2008 3:23 PM

We have an arrogant, incompetent, illiterate, and inept fool in the White House, a demoralized and decimated military, plundered treasury, trashed world standing, trampled rule of Law and Constitution. While the nation is sinking under debt and the market is in a free fall while an tidal wave of Uneducated Illegal Aliens are waving the Mexican flag, demanding their rights, while sucking at the trough of Public Welfare, as they Kill, Rob, and Rape thousands of American Citizens each year. While most of the Candidates are pandering for the Latino vote by implying or promising Amnesty!

We as a nation can survive fools in our White House. What we CANNOT survive is fools both in our Congress and white house like Bush, McCain, Hillary, Obama, etc. Each promising a new American, rebuilding the middle class and taking care of the poor. But what they refuse to acknowledge or recognize is no single Nation or people is rich enough to lift the 100,s of millions of poor out of poverty. In others words American & American taxpayers cannot bear the cost of becoming the welfare state for Mexico and Latin American. To attempt to do so will only reduce all Americans to poverty equaling what the uneducated invaders are fleeing from in their home countries. The poor and criminals pouring across our Borders have an average of an six grade education. Each person with less than a high education is a net cost of 20k per year for American taxpayers. So the displaced compassion, flawed logic, or just pandering for votes, endorsed by Edwards, Obama, McCain, Hillary . is deeply flawed. Failure to close our border or to give Amnesty to the 12 to 30 millions of Illegal Aliens in this country will in the long run, with the Chain Immigration result in adding 100 to 160 millions poor citizens to our welfare rolls. Their high school drop out rates exceed 50 percent with a high crime rate and a very high illegitimate birth rate, this is very combination that keeps Mexico & Latin American a cesspool of crime, corruption, poverty & misery!

Maybe the results is what the multinational companies and the rich dream of, a Nation full of poor docile labors like China, India, Mexico, but I do not believe it is the future most Americans aspire to for their children and grand children!

In all, my country, a potential benefactor and beacon for all the world - is headed right off a cliff and to an third world status!

In my view - - this has all come to pass because the Politicians, the elected and sworn stewards of this country, both Republicans & Democrats have allowed it to happen. Surely they should have known better when they build bridges to nowhere, when they wasted 100,s of billion in pork and sold their votes to the highest bidder....when they refused to abide by the Constitution against invasion or enforce the very laws they passed, they have disgraced and dishonored their oath of office and brought shame upon our Nation. One way this Nation can start to recover is for the lot of them to be gone from those hallowed halls of Congress and the White House, because most of them have become a house of party-bound Prostitutes paid by the special interests, swirling and partying, amidst the rubble of their own malfeasance - taking this Nation right down in the gutter with them.

If the Politicians with the Citizens support, decide they must do more for the worlds poor then they must find a way like an Marshall plan for Latin American. What they must not be allowed to do, though flawed logic, false compassion, or by criminal intent is to turn this Nation into a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, and Misery by continuing the open borders policy and Amnesty for the millions of uneducated peons pouring across our borders.

As a proud and concerned American that proudly served my Country in time of War as did my Father, my two brothers and my son. I am appalled and very angry at what self severing, stupid/corrupt politicians have done to my country!

Posted by: american1 | January 24, 2008 2:21 PM

Good luck in getting people to notice anything but the presidential campaign now! But if Cheney gets his extention of unwarranted wiretapping and phone company immunity, come November we'll be checking to see if the Democrats really are different from the Republicans. Clintons have been pretty Bush-esque and McCain has shown strong integrity regarding his opposition of torture, special interest groups and earmarks.

Posted by: elong1 | January 24, 2008 1:35 PM

Nothing will refocus our attention from the Hillary vs. Obama saga. It's riveting...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl | January 24, 2008 11:31 AM

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