- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

Inane chatter

“Is John McCain losing it?” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“On Sunday, he said on national television that to solve Social Security ‘everything’s on the table,’ which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 in Denver he said: ‘Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won’t.’ This isn’t a flip-flop. It’s a sex-change operation,” Mr. Henninger said.

“He got back to the subject Tuesday in Reno, Nev. Reporters asked about the Sunday tax comments. Mr. McCain replied, ‘The worst thing you could do is raise people’s payroll taxes, my God!’ Then he was asked about working with Democrats to fix Social Security, and he repeated, ‘everything has to be on the table.’ But how can …? Oh never mind.

“[Wednesday] he was in Aurora, Colo., to wit: ‘On Social Security, he [Senator Obama] wants to raise Social Security taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes.’ What I’m asking is, does John McCain have the mental focus, the intellectual discipline, to avoid being out-slicked by Barack Obama, if he isn’t abandoned by his own voters?

“It’s not just taxes. Recently the subject came up of Al Gore’s assertion that the U.S. could get its energy solely from renewables in 10 years. Sen. McCain said: ‘If the vice president says it’s doable, I believe it’s doable.’ What!!?? In a later interview, Mr. McCain said he hadn’t read ‘all the specifics’ of the Gore plan and now, ‘I don’t think it’s doable without nuclear power.’ It just sounds loopy.

“Then this week in San Francisco, in an interview with the Chronicle, Sen. McCain called Nancy Pelosi an ‘inspiration to millions of Americans.’ Notwithstanding his promises to ‘work with the other side,’ this is a politically obtuse thing to say in the middle of a campaign. Would Bill Clinton, running for president in 1996 after losing control of the House, have called Newt Gingrich an ‘inspiration’?”

‘Post-partisan’

How many governors endorse one candidate for president and then even before the election leave the door open to working in his opponent’s administration? One so far: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The former bodybuilder and actor boasts that he’s California’s first “post-partisan” governor.

The middle-of-the-road Republican uses his willingness to cross party lines as a way to connect with the state’s Democratic-leaning electorate. But the presidential race between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama is putting this ideological squishiness to the test.

Mr. Schwarzenegger endorsed Mr. McCain, his friend and fellow Republican, and will appear on the Arizona senator’s behalf at the Republican National Convention this summer.

Yet Mr. Schwarzenegger also has made clear that Mr. Obama wouldn’t be so bad. He commonly answers questions about global warming and other topics by saying that either candidate will be a big improvement over President Bush.

Earlier this month, Mr. Schwarzenegger responded to a hypothetical question by saying he wouldn’t rule out a job in an Obama administration. This prompted a furious backlash from conservative bloggers.

“I would take his call now, I will take his call when he’s president — any time. Remember, no matter who is president, I don’t see this as a political thing. I see this as we always have to help, no matter what the administration is,” he said, though he added that he intends to serve out his last term as governor, which ends in 2010.

‘Attack’ ad

“The McCain campaign’s new television ad comparing Barack Obama to shallow celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton so upset the network news operations that they all ran full stories, with ABC and NBC leading with the ‘attack ad,’” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Though all tried to frame their stories as balanced looks at attacks against each other by both campaigns, it was the McCain ad which prompted the stories, the language used painted McCain as the aggressor and Obama as the victim fighting back (‘responded,’ ‘fired back’ and ‘hitting back’) and two of the stories featured condemnations of the McCain ad as ‘childish’ or ‘juvenile,’” Mr. Baker said.

“ABC’s Charles Gibson teased: ‘McCain says Obama is all star power and no substance. Obama says McCain is using scare tactics. It’s getting nasty. And it’s only July.’ Reporter David Wright, who relayed how ‘Obama told an audience in Missouri the Republicans are just trying to scare voters,’ concluded with how ‘it’s getting ugly early, and some Republicans are expressing concern about McCain’s tone, in particular one former McCain aide calling the new celebrity ad childish.’

“On CBS, which put ‘Attack Ad’ on screen, Katie Couric asserted: ‘John McCain sharpened his attack against Barack Obama, trying to turn his popularity against him. And late today, Obama fired back.’ For an expert assessment, Chip Reid went to the Politico’s David Mark, who declared that the McCain ad ‘seems a little juvenile.’”

Those racists

“Obama’s statement [Wednesday] about Republican scare tactics is merely the latest in a string of statements in which he suggests that certain Americans are intrinsically racist, and those Americans aren’t just confined to political opponents,” Peter Kirsanow writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“His declaration that his grandmother was a ‘typical white person,’ was, at the time, derided primarily because it was seen as Obama ‘throwing her under the bus’ for political expediency. But the statement’s premise - that the ‘typical’ white person is a reflexive racist - is at least as offensive,” Mr. Kirsanow said.

“Similarly, the commentary surrounding Obama’s statement to San Francisco elites about bitter, working-class voters focused largely on the condescension in his claim that such folks ‘cling to guns or religion.’ Somewhat ignored was the clause ‘or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.’ Again, Obama is branding a huge swath of the American populace in unsavory terms.

“During the primaries his campaign lept upon any statement that was even remotely related to color as evidence of racist intent. This is, to say the least, peculiar for someone whose campaign was based in part on racial transcendence. Even more so for someone who doesn’t seem to have encountered any pernicious racism or racial barriers in his personal life. His profligate insinuations of racism now are far beyond unseemly. As the possible next president of the United States, he needs to be called on it.”

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

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