SCHIP: Where do we go from here?

SCHIP has officially traveled the public policy arc from little-known program to cause celebre to political stalemate.

So let's just take a little step back this morning.

My biggest concern with expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program was how Congress planned to pay for it: with a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax.

Now, I'm all for providing health coverage for children: I can't think of a better lifelong investment in wellness. And I have no problem with raising the cigarette tax, since it might dissuade young people from taking up smoking.

I do have a problem with marrying these two objectives.

From Kevin's Inbox: More e-mail reax to the Craig interviews

Here's what some Statesman letter writers had to say about Tuesday's Larry Craig interviews:

• Peter Petersen, Boise: “Liar, liar pants on fire Sen. Craig. Quit thinking about yourself and think of the good people of Idaho. Resign. It is the right thing to do for us.”

• Stanley E. Stolarski, Twin Falls: "After watching Senator Craig’s television interviews, here is what you should consider. A Minnesota bridge collapse made news and when a reporter wanted to investigate they were threatened to be arrested by a police officer. Senator Craig’s incident took that story off the news. Senator Craig stated he was profiled. This assumes both parties were innocent. I think he was targeted. He said he went to the same airport weekly and the same men’s room regularly. I think his political opposition noticed this and set a trap.

If a much-ballyhooed interview falls in the forest ...

Through no fault of the NBC hype machine, America voted with its remote Tuesday night.

And America decided it didn't really care much about an Idaho senator's attempt at image reinvention.

The Matt Lauer-Larry Craig interview was a ratings flop, according to style="text-decoration:underline;">the New York Times' Benjamin Toff.

Sure, 5.7 million Americans watched the at-times-painful-to-watch Craig interview, according to the Nielsen estimates. But the Larry Craig Hour lost handily to CBS' "NCIS" and Fox's broadcast of the Cleveland Indians-Boston Red Sox baseball playoff game. Among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, Craig managed only a tie with the CW reality show "Beauty and the Geek."

From Kevin's Inbox: E-mail reax to the Craig interviews

Here's what some of our letter writers had to say about Sen. Larry Craig's TV interviews:

• Jack Trotter, Twin Falls: "Senator craig paints a calm, collected reasoned approach in his TV interview and with his replies to TV questions. He did not show this composure or reasoned thought process under fire. I want a senator (read also congressman, president) who is making important decisions for me, my state and my country to take responsibility for his own actions (before he is pressured to do so), who approaches serious problems actively, not passively. Senator Craig did not adequately show these characteristics. I urge him to resign."

The Craig interviews: a morning after redux, including mini edits

First off, thanks to everyone who logged in or e-mailed during Tuesday night's interviews. We had more than 100 comments on the blog (and no, they weren't all mine), and I got 20 or so e-mailers from letter writers who offered their instant analysis.

This was my first experiment in running a live online discussion; thanks for making it a fun two hours. Not really to my surprise, I found the online discussion a lot more enlightening than the interviews themselves.

Ultimately, I don't think Craig had any blockbusters, either in the soft KTVB interview or the considerably tougher Matt Lauer interview. We learned more about toilet paper and the senator's time-honored commitment to use restrooms for their intended purpose, but I'll leave it to you to decide whether that's a good thing.

Craig's interviews

Hello everyone. Looking forward to your questions and comments.

From our letter writers: Comments on Craig

I did a little bit of blatant spamming last night — but for a good objective.

I e-mailed every Idahoan who has e-mailed us a letter to the editor on the Larry Craig saga — nearly 250 people in all. My idea was to invite them to drop us a line during or after Craig's televised interviews tonight, or check in here at ID Quicktakes to join my live discussion (right here, 6 to 8 p.m.).

A few of our writers already had some interesting remarks heading into the interviews. Among the highlights:

• From Arne Sampe, Paul: "I totally approve of his decision to not resign. He stated up front that his resignation was an intent. In fact, I rather fancy that he ought to re-think his decision to not run for re-election. He could become a folk hero. However, I do not think that Senator Craig will have much luck with the Minnesota courts, as in my opinion too much Minnesota dirty laundry would become public knowledge. I do not like the Senator‚s political views, but all the same, entrapment is a worse evil, since entrapment has the potential of silencing an open democracy."

Live blog/chat Tuesday on the Larry Craig interviews

Are you planning to watch the Larry Craig interviews (6 p.m. Tuesday with KTVB, 7 p.m. Tuesday with NBC's Matt Lauer)?

Log on here and talk about it.

I'm going to be blogging live during both interviews. I'm looking forward to reading your reactions and answering your questions.

Jim Risch, Larry LaRocco and the blogosphere

A few months back, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch called me because he'd heard I'd written about him on my blog.

Actually, I had made tongue-in-cheek mention of Risch's appearance in The Onion; the satirical news site had quoted Risch explaining the Legislature's utterly fictional (and rather amusing) decision to make English the only language it knows.

Looking to allay Risch's concerns, I offered to e-mail Risch a link to the blog and The Onion article, so he could see everything in the spirit delivered. Risch told me, in essence, that he doesn't do e-mail.

So I can't say I'm surprised that we've had a little clash of cultures in the 2008 U.S. Senate race between Risch and blog- and Net-savvy Democrat Larry LaRocco.

Of flaxseed oil and the wide stance

Sen. Larry Craig keeps giving us editorial writers fresh fooder.

Here's an excerpt from a style="text-decoration:underline;"> Tuesday editorial in the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., comparing Craig with disgraced Olympic sprinter Marion Jones.

"As with Jones, Craig’s story has been filled with denials and blaming of others after an incident in a Minneapolis airport restroom.

"The question for his Idaho constituents and fellow senators has become not what he did in that restroom to get arrested and convicted - but whether he can be trusted to tell the truth. The answer is no.

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