- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hillary’s stance

Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, said yesterday she would not support a short-term increase in U.S. troop presence in Iraq unless it was part of a more comprehensive plan to stabilize the country.

Mrs. Clinton also offered the broadest indication yet that she was close to a decision on whether to enter the 2008 Democratic presidential field, the Associated Press reports.

“I want to make sure the decision is right for me, my family, my party and my country,” Mrs. Clinton said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” program. She appeared on the show to promote the rerelease of her best-selling book on child rearing, “It Takes a Village.”

The former first lady said she knew more than any other potential candidate how hard it was to be president. “I saw it in an up close and personal way for eight years,” she said. She reiterated that she would disclose her decision sometime after the first of the year.

Mrs. Clinton also offered praise for Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, who has also indicated he may enter the race. Mr. Obama drew huge crowds on a visit to New Hampshire earlier this month.

“He’s terrific. He’s a friend and a colleague. I have very high regard for him,” she said, while sidestepping a question about whether Mr. Obama would make a good president.

“I think he is a really exciting personality and someone who has a lot to contribute to the national dialogue,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Mrs. Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she was not in favor of a proposed “surge” of some 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops into Baghdad to quell the sectarian violence there. President Bush is reportedly considering such a move as one of many options to improve the situation in Iraq.

Early exits

“On March 4, 1976, Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination after finishing a weak third in the New Hampshire primary and then following that up with a paltry 5 percent of the vote in the Massachusetts primary,” Walter Shapiro writes at www.Salon.com.

“Thirty years later, his son, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, abandoned his own quest for the White House on Saturday — 13 months before the New Hampshire primary — unexpectedly telling supporters in a statement, ‘I concluded that due to circumstances beyond our control, the odds were longer than I felt I could responsibly pursue.’

“The difference between these two ill-fated, father-and-son efforts illustrates how presidential politics have evolved over three decades. Back in the quaint 1970s, actual voters weighed Birch Bayh’s political fate in the balance before rejecting it. This time around, Evan Bayh made his calculation based on money (a bare-bones campaign for the nomination might cost $35 million), poll numbers (his support in Iowa and New Hampshire was, to put it charitably, at difficult-to-measure levels) and the caliber of the opposition (Hillary Clinton and the skyrocketing Barack Obama).

“With former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and now Bayh all jettisoning presidential bids in recent months, it is beginning to look as if Democratic voters are fast becoming irrelevant in winnowing down the field of potential candidates. The choice in a presidential race is only as good as the supply of candidates. If the field gets narrowed before the opening-bell January 2008 Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, then the voters and the Democratic Party will be deprived of a lusty debate on the nation’s and the party’s future.”

Back to the village

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is making the rounds on television this week, visiting NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “The View” to promote the 10th-anniversary edition of her book, “It Takes a Village.”

“Big mistake,” Don Surber writes at his blog (http://donsurber.blogspot.com). “That anti-welfare reform chestnut has not held up very well in the decade that followed.

“The Kumbaya wisdom of African villages has deteriorated into an AIDS-ravaged continent of civil war, where young boys carry AK47s and troops and U.N. peacekeepers alike gang-rape young girls,” writes Mr. Surber, a columnist for the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail.

“Not to overstate the obvious, there was a little thing called 9/11 in NYC a while ago. That’s the issue. That’s the test. The 2008 election boils down to whether Hillary Rodham Clinton is our Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher.

“Swapping child-rearing tips with Rosie O’Donnell ain’t gonna cut it.”

CAIR stifles blogger

The Tampa, Fla., office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) has claimed credit for shutting down a conservative blogger who cited a fellow blogger’s satirical column suggesting “killing all the Arab children is a workable solution to spare our own children.”

CAIR persuaded Florida-based Hostgator.com Internet-service provider to shut down RightWingHowler.com, a conservative blog created by Vilmar Tavares, a retired Air Force officer who lives in Spring Hill, Fla.

Mr. Tavares had quoted blogger Frank J. Fleming’s Nov. 28 satire column entitled “The Only Way to Ensure that Our Children Don’t Have to Fight Terrorism Is to Kill All the Arab Children.” That column at www.imao.us ended with Mr. Fleming’s admission that he “is trying to write extreme opinions to generate controversy to promote his new book ‘The Chronicles of Dubya Volume 1: The Defeat of Saddam.’ ”

CAIR was not amused.

“We commend Hostgator.com for doing the right thing by refusing to associate with those who spew anti-Muslim bigotry and support calls to violence,” said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ahmed Bedier. “We believe hate-filled rhetoric is a major contributing factor to bias crimes and prejudice.”

Nevada envy

With an early 2008 presidential caucus slated for Nevada in just over a year, Democrats are hoping their candidates’ Western exposure will improve their chances.

Nevada Republicans are wondering why their party doesn’t do the same thing and are talking about ways to counter the coming Democratic surge, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

“I congratulate the Democrats for taking the initiative” to hold the early Nevada caucus, Republicanstate Sen. Randolph Townsend said Friday.

Mr. Townsend said he plans to spend the coming weeks promoting the idea of planning an early party selection in Nevada to see how it goes over.

Unless Republicans do something to counter the Democrats’ early push in Nevada, Democratic candidates will dominate the attention of Nevadans, Mr. Townsend said.

State Republican Party Chairman Paul Adams said he already has been having discussions with the Republican National Committee.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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