Wednesday, February 28, 2007

VA, Here We Come (And We Brought Red Herring!)

This article from the Rutland Herald pretty much says it all: Welchie's new "top priority" is the care received by veterans at VA hospitals.

Ok, we'll just add this issue to the list of priorities that Welch has suddenly found to be of extreme importance, callin' hearin's on em, talkin' em' up to the media, and all that. Surprised? We're not.

It's pretty clever, actually. Part of a fairly well orchestrated PR move on behalf of Welchie's people and the national D's to A) divert attention from their lack of any coherent strategy to live up to their campaign promises on Iraq, eg, to END the war, and B) to make it seem as though they are doing something military oriented, that they "support the troops," while they attempt to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the electorate.

Let's connect the dots...

First, as this piece in the Post makes clear, the D's are abundantly screwed, in general, on the war. The reason for this is simple: they got elected on their claims that they would end it. They have the power to end it whenever they want. They will not do so.

Of course, they have now possessed the power to end the war for, well, about two months. They have made endless claims about their opposition to it. They have pontificated about their non-binding resolutions. There has been much hand-wringing and cause for consternation amongst the ranks, high and low, about the way to "move forward" on the war. A "new way forward," is what Welchie called it.

Well, what is the "new way forward," exactly?

Apparently, it is exactly what Welchie said it would not be; a continuation of the current policy. Rep. John Tanner put it well when he said that the D's "don't want to do the same thing we've been doing for 3 1/2 years that hasn't worked, but we don't want to pull the plug."

Yeah, he's got a point. That's a tough nut to crack.

Needless to say, blatantly failing to take any meaningful action on one's biggest campaign pledge is not the kind of thing that looks good on a freshman-firebrand's record. Especially when that fiery-eyed activist ran his entire campaign on his ability to "change direction." When he explicitly urged voters to weigh Iraq, almost exclusively, as the reason to support him. And when it starts looking like it ain't gonna pan out? Well, call in the spin-doctors.

Hence, Welchie's sudden "carbon offsetting" focus (never mind that carbon offsetting is actually worse for the environment than doing nothing). Also, his serious interest in milk, by which we mean "money for milk farmers." Finally, and this is key, his blustery call for hearings on VA hospitals...about 8 days after the story broke in the national media. Kind of a late call, right?

But it makes sense. Big-time. Here's how it works.

It's discovered that there are sub-par conditions at a housing facility for Iraq war vets in DC. The media is all-over it. In a move that makes a lot of sense, they ask Rep. Waxman about it. Waxman is the guy who heads one of the committees that Welch sits on. Sorry, one of the "plum" committee seats he holds. (Writing "plum" is obligatory in this context). Waxman mulls it over...hey, he thinks, we could get some traction out of this. Maybe divert some attention from the war. But how?

Ok, who really needs some pro-troop street cred? Who needs to get his constituents looking the other way for awhile? Is there a freshman on his committee who has been getting heat over Iraq? Why, yes there is! Ok Welchie, you're up. Call for some hearings, send out some spin, and you'll be fine. Ready, set, go!

And that's exactly what Welchie has been doing. He made a big campaign stop recently to tour a VA facility in Colchester, incidentally a town that he lost last election. That's pretty good: get some campaign props, some troop cred, and get your face seen in a town you will really need in 08.' And, we imagine, that's just the beginning. Watch out for articles in the paper, the regurgitation of talking points from Welchie's recently silent blogger crew, etc.

At some point, however, all of the rhetoric will inevitably spin itself out. People didn't like Welchie from the get-go, they were just mad at Bush, so they pulled the "D" handle like it was a slot machine.

Next time around they'll have a little bit better judgement. They're already asking him why he hasn't been sticking it to the man like he said he would, why he is not supporting impeaching the guy he supposedly can't stand (just ask John Sartore). What's going to happen when the 08' campaign really starts?

Here's a heads-up: it already has.

Monday, February 26, 2007

And The Oscar Goes To...Not Peter Welch

Welchie is back in DC! After a long week in Vermont, what they call in the Congressional calendar the "President's Day District Work Period," Welch has a pretty busy few days scheduled back in the big city. What's on his social card?

Well, according to this article, he will be having lunch with Governor Douglas tomorrow, (no word on whether or not the Tabard Inn is booked). Also, he has a few committee meetings scheduled, most notably one on his extremely late call for a look into what was happening at Walter Reed. We also assume he'll be doing the usual schmoozing his job requires, running with Smuckers, etc. Sounds pretty fun, right?

Well, there's little doubt that it will be more fun than what he has been doing this past week; namely, getting huge amounts of grief from his constituents. What has he been getting a hard time about? Let's take a look.

First, there have been questions about his lack of support for a pretty popular initiative in Vermont, the State that he, ahem, supposedly represents. This is the impeachment of the President, the prospect of which makes the lefty blog-o-wonks swoon.

As has been noted, Welch is against impeachment hearings, and will not support any initiative to commence them. We'll say it again: he can, but he won't. This is despite being asked to do so by none other than Cindy Sheehan! That's right, you can see the letter here. One of the highlights is the notable omission of any shred of respect for Welch. This is evidenced by the following snippet:

"We come not to tell the people of Vermont how to vote on warrant articles regarding impeachment at their town meetings next week. That would be not just presumptuous but foolish. Frankly, the voters who have given America George Aiken, Ralph Flanders, Robert Stafford, Jim Jeffords, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders do not need any advice from us about how to make political choices."

Notice anything? We did. We noticed that two of the three current members of Vermont's Congressional delegation are mentioned as good, anti-war, choices...but, well, where's the other one? Not a breath on that guy. Why not? Oh yeah, he's not for impeachment. Why not? Well, according to this article, he was recently asked that very question. Probably numerous times. By angry constituents. He said that "Congress must stay focused on Iraq." Yeah...Iraq.

Apparently, Welch spent a lot of time talking about Iraq while he was back home in Vermont. He said that his goal is to "do everything (he) possibly can to end this war." The truth? Well, no. He's not.

It's not that he was not asked questions about his conflicting stance on the war. Often times, as we've seen, the MSM will gloss over what was and was not asked at media events. What else were constituents asking Welch during his campaign swing through Vermont? For example, did the unbelievably bungled Iraq plan that's in the midst of blowing up all over Nancy, Steny, and Welchie's faces happen to come up?

We don't know. But the Reformer interviewer did, however, ask ole' Welchie about an incident that apparently still has Vermonters hot under the collar with Welch. Here at WW we called it "autographgate." And, it turns out, we have a few more questions about it.

These stem from Welchie's response to continuing questions about the stunningly poor PR move Welch made in getting Bush's signature, right in national television, following the SOTU address. For reference, please see our pic below on the right. When asked about it in January he said it was for his nephew. See the link here.
However, in yesterday's article Welchie explains it by saying that it was "a memento" for his "godson." Godson, eh? What about his nephew?

Well, unless he asked for two autographs, it can't be both.

Now, we admit that we said we were not going to harp on this one anymore. But really, which is it? The answer matters because, well, it sounds pretty fishy to us. Actually, it sounds like Welch just got caught making something up. Godson, nephew...himself. Whatever! It's all the same, right? Not exactly.

In the long-term, it doesn't really matter. Welchie's anti-war, anti-Bush street cred is essentially shot. Voters who bit the bullet and voted for a guy they didn't like to begin with will not only see him as a sham for his hypocrisy on the Bush/autograph issue, but his base supporters, the pro-impeachment crowd, is abandoning him for not showing any spine on their pet issue. Simply put, if you hate Bush so much, and you are the only person in Vermont who can seriously pull the trigger on impeachment hearings, then why not do it?


The answer is that, tah-dah, Nancy and Steny don't want him to. So he won't. Pretty simple, right?

The impeachment thing should start to get really interesting pretty soon. That's because, as this site points out, all kinds of towns will be getting down with impeachment on town meeting day. What will Welch do? We think we know, but just to make sure we'll check with Welchie's nephew. Or his godson.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Welch and Ethics: Redux

"Peter believes lobbying reform is an essential component to cleaning up the ethical mess in Washington."

That statement comes from Ole' "Ethical" Welchie's campaign site. It was put up last May. There it was, his supporters said. You just aren't going to get real ethics reforms with that Congress...Bush's Congress! It was impossible, they all said.

Welchie's detractors answered that, well, the party might be flawed, (and it certainly was) but their candidate was rock-solid on ethics. Never a peep about an ethical issue with The General. Trusted by her troops, the public, and the D-controlled state legislature who appointed her. Welchie....well, not so much. Something about "where winning is no accident," or something. But the mantra was clear: it's the party, stupid, not the candidate. And those R's just had to go man! It's the only way to "clean up Washington."

Ok, you get it.

We got it too. That's why we were so surprised to read this little snippet on one of our fave digital distractions. Catch it here. If you don't want to take the time, it's cool. All you really need to know is the headline on Wonkette: "Steny Hoyer is a Crook, Too." Actually, you should hit the link anyways; there is a really funny picture of a duck on there.

However funny that duck is, however, in our minds at least, the important part is still the words. About how Steny Hoyer "is a crook, too." But we'll let you be the judge of that.

The story, in a nutshell, is that Steny Hoyer, who Welch backed for his leadership spot over the ABSCAM-albatrossed Jack Murtha, is starting to really get used to his new role. How? Well, by doing what every self-respecting zillion-term House member worth his salt does when he's made it to the top. He's going golfing. In Puerto Rico. And he's bringing his pals. And his PAC is paying for it.

Who pays money into PACs, you may be asking? Why, it's lobbyists of course! And who's Steny bringing on the trip? You guessed it: more lobbyists! Enough to fill "137 luxury hotel suites." That's a lot of tee-times.

As the Wonkette post goes on to say, this sounds pretty familiar. Didn't the D's start really forking the elephant manure on to the R's over their leader's now infamous golf trip to Scotland? Yes, they did.

But wait, Steny's trip is different! See, while DeLay's trip was paid for by lobbyists directly, Hoyer's trip was paid for by his PAC, which was paid for by lobbyists. Get it?

Yeah, we do too. And it don't pass the smell-test.

What with these revelations being, um, revealed today, we were all geared up to hear what Welch had to say about this clear ethical blunder on behalf of, literally, his leader. An angry denunciation, a scowl, perhaps...maybe even an embittered yelp to show his clear discontent with Steady-Steny's ethical misdeeds. What did we hear from Welchie's office?

Zippo. No, not the cool lighter.

We didn't hear anything. Why? Well, probably because no one asked him. The Vermont Press? Last we heard they're all working for the Governor. No time to ask questions there! Oh, and probably because that level of disagreement ain't the kind of treatment Welchie wants to give to the committee-assignment fairy. At least if you want to keep those oh-so-plum-plum-plummy committee seats. Also, you want to keep that record amount of money you have, more cash on hand than any politician in the history of the state at the time of taking office, growing. And lobbyists do have money.

Read: you don't rock the boat baby. What do you do? We don't know...go golfing, maybe?

Just a guess.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We're Back, Baby!

Whew! As the emails have been pouring in, chagrined readers demanding new postings, and the political culture in Washington switching from a focus on Iraq to a focus on, what else, Britney Spears' hair, we at WW have been trying to put out fires all over. Fortunately for us, there has not been too much news coming out of ole' Welchie's office in the week we have been gone. What a coincidence!

Actually, there have been a mere three (3) working days that the House has been in session since we last posted, and not too much to report on Welch's actual voting record during that period. Hey, if you only worked three days a week you probably wouldn't get too much done either, right? As you will see on this site, the biggest vote that came out of Pelosi's nest was the "disagreement" that the House registered against President Bush's troop surge plan.

"Disagreement?" Whoa, that sounds pretty serious. We're sure that Welchie's cheerleaders will be psyched about that one. Weird: that guy seems to give mad props to Danziger non-stop, but he didn't publish Danziger's damning cartoon on Welch, the one all but endorsing another run by Martha Rainville in 08,' that everyone else took notice of. Wonder why? Is this the advent of truly "selective journalism?" We'll see.

So, what has Welch been up to? Well, he still has the thoroughly debunked carbon trading thing up on his site in an attempt to truly get as much out of it as possible. Never mind that he personally contributed to over $60,000.00 of full-on carbon polluting himself. This guy bites on it here. When will it end? Our prediction: never. It also seems as though his proposal that all offices "be allowed" to purchase carbon offsetting, so they won't have to pay for it themselves, has gotten absolutely zero attention outside the cooing of Vermont's mainstream wonks. It has no cosponsors. And it's about half a page long. See it here.

Now that's making a difference.

Also, in this article, Welch's people come out with big news that they will be making milk pricing "a top concern" in his tenure. Of course, we at WW, as with all politicians and people of Vermont, are down with helping out the milk-producers, but this is getting to be a bit much even for us. A "top priority" you say? If we made a strand of Welch's top priorities thus far it would reach from Bennington to Swanton and back.

To recap, his "top concerns" to date are: elbowing through crowds to get Bush's autograph, the war in Iraq, lowering student loan rates by $4 a month, "opposing the Bush agenda," doing personal favors for Bush by calling up Bush's buddies from college, paying a few bucks to "trade" carbon, and now milk. That's a lot of "top priorities" to focus on, no? Oh yeah, notice his big plan for advancing the concerns of Vermont's milk farmers is a bi-weekly conference call. That's tech, baby! Also, see any bills or votes coming in on any of the above? Sorry, by "bills or votes" we mean actual, voted on legislation. See anything, for example, on the big lefty issue of impeachment?


One interesting email came in, however, in our little down-time from posting. An alert reader pointed us in the direction of some more salient facts about one of the biggest corporations in Welchie's stock portfolio, British Petroleum, or as he sneakily labeled it in his filing, "BP." So, we picked up our dog-eared copy of the Blue Pages (WW highly recommends it) to see what all the fuss is about. It turns out that, in addition to British Petroleum's contributions to massive environmental damage, they have also engaged in some pretty serious OSHA violations. To about the tune of $21.3 million in fines regarding an explosion at one of their Texas refineries that killed 15 workers and injured about 170. That, according to the Blue Pages, if the biggest OSHA fine ever. How much money did Welchie make off of his ownership of this stock?

Again: chirp.

All of this should have some serious lefty voters, and candidates, licking their chops over the 08' race. Heck, the foolishness of the carbon-red-herring thing even has the righty and lefty blog-o-wonks agreeing, as seen here. But we haven't heard too much about P candidates in 08' from the blog-o-wonks or the real wonks in the last few weeks. Dr. Dean must be making his rounds in an attempt to circle the wagons around Welchie's rapidly deteriorating brand-value. This hasn't stopped some speculation about who may run as an R, however. Who do we think will run? We'll be revealing our thoughts on the matter any day.

As always, we'll keep it interesting.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Milking Carbon?

Despite the clear concerns that many environmental activists, scientists, and anyone else paying any attention at all to the meaning of the terms "carbon offsetting" have towards this activity of dubious worth, ole' Welchie's PR peeps have shown that they may actually know what they are doing in terms of righting Welchie's first-term blues.

This is clear from the press that continued to flow in all weekend regarding the carbon neutrality "initiative" that Welch still has up on his website, and probably will for as long as, what's that other issue? oh yeah, the war, goes on.

Why? Well, it's a lot easier to simply say the words "carbon," "decrease" and Welch in the same sentence and watch the press go bonkers than answer questions about why it took you three weeks to sign on to a slightly meaningful anti-war bill. Even despite the fact that you have personally gained tens of thousands of dollars off of some of the biggest oil-for-profits, pollution spewing companies in the world. That's how powerful these magic words are...they make hypocritical stock-ownership that invalidates the legitimacy of your caring about an issue disappear!

Who cares if Welch owned up to $50,000.00 of Iraq War cheerleaders British Petroleum stock? Hey, that's a lot of traction for $672. Some one got a big pat on the back and an attah-boy over that one.

Yes, this weekend it was all smiles as Welch stopped by the Rutland Price-Chopper (we guess that the more popular Wal-Mart wouldn't be too good of a photo-op), on his second campaign stop of the 08' season. Except, that is, some teachers who told him he's not doing enough to stop the war. Check it out in this woefully inadequate piece here. Teachers are reading WW, eh. Who knew?

According to the article, Welch was seen taking people's names down, promising that he would have people look into their problems, and generally having a great time. We'll look for more on that one. Also, he stopped by the airport to hear about how much money he might be able to get them. Up to $50 million, you say? Hey, how much would it cost to offset the emissions of one single plane landing at "Rutland/Southern Vermont Regional?" Someone get on that, maybe Welchie will write a check right now and get another two weeks of publicity out of it! We wouldn't be surprised.

The other issue that Welch isn't talking about by blathering on about this carbon thing? Impeachment. Yes, it's getting to be near that time. That time of the year when Vermonters go to their towns, pass a budget, and get interviewed by a thousand national media outlets on how quaint they are. This year, a bunch of towns are getting serious about it.

What does Welchie think about impeaching his boy Bush? In a word: nothing. But hey, we were thinking, if Bush actually got impeached, how would that effect the value of Welchie's autograph? Apparently, it would make it less valuable. That must be why Welch won't support the idea that his pal Bush should be impeached. Maybe he should call that guy John Sartore, Bush's college chum about it again. You know, get some sage advice? No? Well, it was just a thought.

But it's one that should further piss off those who once saw some of themselves in Welch, but now every time they see the guy can't stop thinking of that famous grin and handshake moment. We'll wait and see what happens. Maybe some tree-planting operation that offsets carbon emissions will come along round' town meeting' day? Welchie, get your checkbook!

Next time just don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

British Petroleum Is The Coolest!

As has been pointed out recently, both on WW and by the lefty blog-o-wonks, this week has seen a bit of a snow-job from Welch's folks in DC. Yeah, there was all of the rigmarole about Welchie's "original" co-sponsorship of the Woolsey bill, the predictable back-and-forth it set off by those paying attention, and the usual hum-drummery that followed on the discussion boards. However, as we posted yesterday, there hasn't been too much of a deal about it in the MSM. Why? We have our suspicions.

Essentially, Welchie's midnight madness "press release" to one of the blog-wonks about his little Woolsey switcharoo seems to be the first savvy move of Welchie's tenure, at least from a PR perspective. After dealing with angry constituents for a few weeks, including letters like this one coming in hourly, Welch's people got smart. "Nancy and Steny don't want us to do this," they thought, "but our hard-core supporters do."

So, what's the solution?

Well, the hard-core anti-war people are on the net, right, but Steny and Nancy probably don't read WW (at least yet). So, they put the Woolsey co-sponsorship out to the "netroots," but keep it out of the Free Press. That covers both sides, right? Pretty sharp stuff...did someone put a call in to Dwyer on that one?

Regardless, the whole mess has overshadowed some other actions that Welch's people want in the news, the real news, much more badly than the Woolsey thing. That's why Welchie's official House site makes a big to-do about this "carbon neutrality" thing. Combined with last week's clear google bombing of Welchie's remarks on global warming, ("stunning," he calls it) we may be seeing that Welchie's PR operation is finally learning "the ropes."

Switching the focus from Welch's war stance, or the clear lack thereof, to something as universally left, while NOT making Nancy and Steny look silly, is a worthwhile enterprise. So, we'll see if they can pull it off.

It might be harder to do than they think.

There are a few reasons why the whole "Welch-as-environmental-crusader" thing doesn't really play too well with us at WW, or should it, for that matter, with anyone who has paid attention to Welch's personal interests in the field of environmental stewardship over the past few years. This brings us to the idea behind the whole "carbon neutrality" thing. As this article in Roll Call (subscription) suggests, this is part of Welch's peeps' effort to make him the "coolest Congressman" in DC.

Cute, right?

Except it don't exactly fly. Why not? Well, let's start out with a basic examination of what carbon neutrality, or "carbon offsetting" means. It means paying someone to do something which will get rid of carbon, like plant some trees, in order to make up for your actions. Which is exactly what Welch did. He paid $672, to be exact, and out of his own pocket.

$672. That's it.

Not a huge deal, but doing this, we guessed, would be better than doing nothing, right? Turns out we were wrong. Who says, you might be asking? Well, check out this whole issue of The New Internationalist, not exactly a conservative publication, on why carbon offsetting is actually worse than doing nothing. Go ahead and check it out, there are all kinds of arguments in there. One in particular caught our eye, especially in the context of Welch's recent behavior: carbon offsetting is tokenism. That is, it makes people think you are doing something, while you are really doing nothing, in this case, not actually reducing emissions. One author puts it this way:

" is OK to fly and drive so long as you pay some third party a small fee to ease your conscience? That we can consume our way out of a problem caused by our consumption in the first place?"

Hmm, that's an interesting way to think about it: is it actually worse to make people think you are somehow solving the problem, in that they then do not change their behavior, than it would be to do nothing? It certainly strikes us as a compelling argument.

This, combined with the shift-the-focus PR spin Welchie's office is getting down with, only becomes worse when we consider where the $672 in personal income that Welch paid for the carbon offsetting may have come from. One source of personal income for Welch, for example, is from oil stocks. And, tah-dah, from energy stocks.

Yeah, it gets worse.

Check it out in Welch's personal finance filing here: it's on page 7. That's right, it says that before Welch ran for Congress he owned "between $15,001 and $50,0000" worth of stock in BP. That's not the "BP" that stands for "Bennington Produce." No, it stands for British Petroleum, the same company that, according to this article on (again, not too conservative, they) spilled up to 267,000 gallons of crude in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The same BP that apparently supports "police terror" in Colombia. To bring us full circle, it's the same BP evidently responsible for much of the corporate egging-on of, wait for it, the war in Iraq. Yes, BP was one of the biggest oil companies to profit from the Iraq war. Last time we checked, a corporation is owned by its stockholders, right?

Oh yeah, on the report right above "BP" it says that Welch owned up to $15,000 worth of stock in Duke Energy, too. We would start in on them, but hey, isn't the BP part enough to make you at least wince a little? Suffice it to say, they have had their brushes with federal investigators. Environmental federal investigators.

So, let us be the first to ask it: how much would Welch have to pay to offset up to $65,000 worth of stock in two of the most environmentally destructive, carbon producing companies in the entire world?

Well, we don't know. But it's certainly enough to make us question the sincerity of Welchie's new focus on carbon offsetting, his being "stunned" at the profits of oil companies, or whatever other spin comes out of his office in an attempt to live up to his lefty claims while not rocking the D-boat in Washington.

Really, considering the above, shouldn't any thinking person do the same?

The Fallout

Well, it's come to our attention here at WW that, in fact, the "press release" dropped the other night is right on one count, wrong on the other. Which means, essentially, that it was incorrect. Far be it from us at WW to define the word "typo," but it does strike us as odd that the term "original" was simply added to the front of the word "cosponsor" by mistake. Forgive us for approaching this type of error, by which we mean an error that would immediately assuage the concerns of thousands of voters who contacted Welchie's office on the issue of the war, as simple in any form. Simply calculated, perhaps.

That being said, we think that Welch is to be commended for signing on to cosponsor every anti-war bill this side of the Potomac, despite the fact that he did so substantially after the fact. We think it does show that his staff has lead him in the direction of, ahem, remembering to do what he said he would do. However, we also think that the corks have started flying out of the anti-war champagne bottles a little bit too quickly over Welchie's sudden subscription to the Woolsey Times. And they're starting to knock out the lights.

Let us explain:

Firstly, there is a temporal issue at play here. Why, pray tell, did not Welch cosponsor the Woolsey bill "originally," as he said (it turns out falsely) he did? We have our suspicions, many of which stem from the lack of support for the Woolsey or McGovern bills from any of the political heavyweights from the D side. No Nancy, no Steny. What gives? Considering Welchie's lock-step voting record thus far, we are not surprised that it took his staff a few weeks to get permission from the leadership to pull the trigger on this big decision...three weeks after the bill came out. Interesting, no?

Second, the fact that this co-sponsorship has gone down seems to be big news for the blog-o-wonks back home, but why has it not been the lead story in any of the local papers? It seems like Welchie's peeps don't have too much of a problem getting the good word out to the bloggers, which makes the lack of play in the mainstream media a little bit odd. Also, on the front page of his Congressional site, Welch is currently touting his "carbon neutral" claims (more on that in the next post)...why not the big anti-war statement? In fact, you don't find anything about the Woolsey bill until three or four pages into his site. Not exactly rolling out the red carpet, is it?

The fact of the matter is that this "co-sponsorship" of a bill that is getting exactly zero traction from the D leadership was, essentially, a fax to the hard-core antiwar camp who had started hounding him for his numerous missteps. This is what it said: "please tell everyone that I'm living up to my anti-war stuff, I have a power lunch in 15 minutes, and I can't be late." Hey, it's hard to get a table at Cafe Milano.

This is why he doesn't have anything about it on his website, and why the D leadership, you know, the D leadership that Welch said the election was about putting in place, won't let him: it makes them look stupid. And they put him on all those committee's, right? What Nancy gives, Nancy can take away. If, that is, he makes it through 08'. And that if is starting to look bigger and bigger.

So, while we here at WW are glad to see that Welch is at least taking a token stab at placating his blog cronies, the ones who pitched him so hard during the campaign, and the ones he has to have with him again in 08 to feed his "press releases" to the internet-left, we are approaching this step with our typical skepticism. His co-sponsorship of these bills, coming as they did, after a tidal wave of sentiment from the home district, hardly warrants the hoopla which has accompanied it from his avowed cheerleaders. Putting it out to the blogs is one thing: putting it on the front page, attending the rallies, holding press availabilities, eg, actually leading, is another.

We'll stay tuned.