The honesty and transparency themes are driving much of voter sentiment in this election. It helps explain the surprising success of Republican candidate Mike Huckabee. And we see similar dynamics with the Democratic candidates.
Consider a "The Economist/YouGov'' poll out last week.
When Democratic voters were asked which phrases they would use to describe their candidates, results included the following:
-- Honesty: Obama 54 percent, Clinton 35 percent.
-- Moral: Obama 54 percent, Clinton 34 percent.
-- Religious: Obama 29 percent, Clinton 19 percent.
-- Says what he/she believes: Obama 60 percent, Clinton 39 percent.
Clinton's growing image of untrustworthiness is taking a toll. Obama now leads in Iowa, and the gap between him and Clinton is tightening in other state and national polls. Now, just out, is a poll by John Zogby showing Clinton losing in races against every Republican candidate. Yet, Zogby's poll shows Obama or Edwards winning these same races.
It's more than perception. Dishonesty defines Clinton's campaign.
A few examples:
-- Health Care: Clinton's signature issue. The defining theme is the need for mandated universal health care because of the large number of uninsured.
When the census bureau reported earlier this year that 47 million Americans are without health insurance, Clinton said: "When I began the fight for universal coverage almost 15 years ago, there were 37 million people uninsured. It was an outrage then and with 10 million more uninsured today, it is an even deeper outrage today."
Who are these 47 million? It's not hard to dig into the U.S. Census Bureau numbers to see. N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard economics professor, and former head of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, did this a few weeks ago on the pages of the New York Times.
About 10 million are not U.S. citizens and many are illegal immigrants. Another 18 million have annual household incomes over $50,000, half of whom have incomes over $75,000. According to Mankiw, about 25 percent of the uninsured have been offered health insurance by their employer and have turned it down. A good chunk of the remaining individuals qualify for Medicaid and haven't applied.
After eliminating non-citizens, those who can afford to, but for whatever reason don't insure themselves, and those qualifying for Medicaid but haven't applied, the remaining universe of uninsured is a fraction of the 47 million.
-- Social Security: According to Mrs. Clinton, the Social Security problem is benign and the system was in good shape when her husband left office.