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A national survey from Public Policy Polling (D), asking respondents about their favorite and least favorite recent presidents, finds an interesting result: Bill Clinton outranks Barack Obama, thanks to a lead among Democrats.

The overall national top-line result has Ronald Reagan in first place with a 41% plurality, followed by Bill at 27%, and Obama with 22%. Among Democrats, Clinton has 46% to Obama's 36%.

So does the fact that Bill is held in higher esteem by Dems reflect any kind of buyer's remorse of Obama? Or is it instead simple nostalgia for the past over the troubles of the present, or some combination?

"I think Democrats associate the Clinton years with prosperity and it's natural they would look back on that favorably compared to the continued difficult times of Obama's first year in office," PPP communications director Tom Jensen told us in an e-mail. "If Obama's policies do end up getting things turned around I'm sure he will go up in this kind of polling. But I don't think it reflects unhappiness with him so much as the fact that Clinton obviously was able to accomplish more in eight years than Obama has been able to in one."

The drumbeat started early in the process - no matter what the final health care bill looks like when it reaches President Obama's desk, it will do more for Americans than ever before.

The Democratic refrain - popping up in Obama's speeches, the interest group message machine and in talks with top Congressional leaders - is especially a signal to those complaining the current legislation isn't good enough.

It's also an important prism through which to view the developments as lawmakers (such as Sens. Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman) say they will or won't support parts of the deal.

Leadership and the White House want a bill, and the message machine will be cranking up into high gear to push the historic nature of the legislation's basics.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, for example, falls back on the explanation every time he's asked about individual concessions Democrats are making during the negotiating process.

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Senate Democrats could be facing yet another obstacle this week in their efforts to pass health care -- in this case a purely physical obstacle in the form of Tea Partiers staging a "die-in" at the Capitol offices.

Tea Party organizer Mark Meckler writes on his site: "The intention is to go inside the Senate offices and hallways, and play out the role of patients waiting for treatment in government controlled medical facilities. As the day goes on some of us will pretend to die from our untreated illnesses and collapse on the floor. Many of us plan to stay there until they force us to leave."

The "die-in," set to take place tomorrow, could be yet another example of Tea Party groups appropriating protest tactics formerly associated with the activist left. The tactic has formerly been used by anti-war groups, or by groups demanding more government action on AIDS. In this case, it's being done by a group demanding less government action on health care.

"We know it's a sacrifice to do this right before Christmas," Meckler writes. "But throughout history American Patriots have made far greater sacrifices than this to protect our liberty. Now the burden (and the honor) falls on us."

In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired last night, President Obama took a populist tone.

"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street," he said.

"The people on Wall Street still don't get it," he went on, criticizing bank executives for taking multi-million-dollar bonuses after precipitating the worst recession in decades.


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If Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is trying to hide the fact that he's seriously considering a primary run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), he's not doing a great job of it. Halter's name has been bandied about as a potential challenger for Lincoln for several weeks now. Just last week, as Greg Sargent reported, Halter discussed a bid with progressive bloggers and union leaders in DC. Halter himself has kept quiet about the race on the record. But, lately it appears Lincoln supporters aren't prepared to wait for him to announce his intentions. They're already on the attack.

The battle so far suggests a nasty primary that could split labor and divide the progressives from the state and national Democratic political establishment.

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Here's a snapshot of the electorate, at the moment when a small handful of Democrats have teamed up to tank the public option. A new Research 2000 poll, commissioned by Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee finds that the overwhelming majority of likely voters believe Democrats who vote against the public option should face primaries from their left.

When asked: "If a Democratic member of Congress votes against a public health insurance option, would you want a more progressive candidate to run against them in a Democratic primary?" 84 percent of respondents said "yes," 11 percent said "no," and 5 percent said they weren't sure.

Those are fairly striking numbers, particularly given last night's news that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is standing in the way of public option alternatives. Lieberman, along with Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) joined forces several weeks ago, insisting they'd filibuster a health care reform bill if it included a public option. That threat laid the groundwork for a new compromise, but Lieberman's saying even that's a no-go.

The overall survey, which will be released later today, polled 802 from December 11 through the 13th--it's margin of error is 3.5%. For the above question, which went to Democrats only question, 256 were polled, yielding a 6.1% margin of error.

Surprising no one, a Republican lawyer's group is slamming a court's decision Friday that ACORN can continue to receive federal funds for now.

In a statement, the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) also criticized the Justice Department on the issue, comparing its stance to its decision not to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers party for voter intimidation. Both positions, said the RNLA, show that "politics can thwart the rule of law."

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On the Tonight Show Friday, William Shatner offered a dramatic reading of passages from Sarah Palin's memoir "Going Rogue."

Then in a surprise appearance, Palin showed up. She congratulated Shatner on doing a good job ... and then gave him a taste of his own medicine by reading excerpts from Shatner's own autobiography.

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Obama Slams 'Fat Cat Bankers' During his 60 Minutes interview, President Obama denounced Wall Street irresponsibility, in stark terms. "Now, let me say more generally I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street," said Obama. "Nothing has been more frustrating to me this year than having to salvage a financial system at great expense to taxpayers that was precipitated, that was caused in part by completely irresponsible actions on Wall Street. And I've spoken out repeatedly about this."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 11:10 a.m. ET with members of the financial services industry, and he will deliver a statement on the economy at 12:10 p.m. ET. Obama and Biden will have lunch at 12:25 p.m. ET. Obama will meet at 1:30 p.m. ET with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman. Obama will meet at 3 p.m. ET with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

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In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it's stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare.

The development casts substantial doubt on whether or not a health care reform bill can pass in the Senate, and even more doubt on whether a bill that does pass the Senate will be reconcilable with substantially more progressive House legislation in such a way that a final reform package can once again pass in both chambers of Congress.

Lieberman told Reid this afternoon, after a contentious appearance on Face the Nation, that he's a "no" vote on the new compromise unless the Medicare buy-in is stripped, and he's not even waiting for the CBO to weigh in--a move one leadership aide described as "extremely unfair."

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