- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Wright link

“Two percent. That’s the percent of voters outside the ‘Motor City’ that have a favorable impression of embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. You don’t have to be a pollster to understand how strongly disliked Kilpatrick is throughout Michigan,” Steve Mitchell writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Sit in any restaurant or bar, and all you hear is people talking about Kilpatrick’s troubles. Indicted in March on eight felony counts for committing perjury during a whistleblower trial that eventually cost the city about $9 million, the mayor spent one night in jail on August 7th for violating his bond and then was arraigned the next day for a new crime. In the latest charges, Kilpatrick is accused of assaulting two sheriff’s deputies as they were trying to serve one of his close friends with a subpoena,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“And, what does this have to do with Barack Obama? Although Kilpatrick has distanced himself from Obama and Obama has distanced himself from Kilpatrick, they are both inextricably linked to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And, that is Obama’s problem.

“The night before Wright imploded in front of the Washington press corps, he was the featured speaker at an NAACP dinner in Detroit where Mayor Kilpatrick gave him a rousing introduction, an introduction shown on local TV news shows. Undoubtedly, some 527 committee or the Michigan Republican Party has that introduction on DVD. —

“In Michigan, you can bet that the much hated Kilpatrick will be included in the Obama/Wright ads, making them look like the Three Musketeers, ‘one for all and all for one.’ ”

What if

Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, reporters Brian Ross and Jake Tapper write at ABC’s Web site.

“‘I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee,’ former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABCNews.com.

“Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses barely behind Edwards in second place and Obama in first. The momentum of the insurgent Obama campaign beating two better-known candidates — not to mention an African-American winning in such an overwhelmingly white state — changed the dynamics of the race forever.

“Obama won 37.6 per cent of the vote. Edwards won 29.7 per cent and Clinton won 29.5 per cent, according to results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party.

“‘Our voters and Edwards’ voters were the same people,’ Wolfson said the Clinton polls showed. ‘They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama.”

“Two months earlier, Edwards had vociferously, but falsely, denied a story in the National Enquirer about the alleged affair last October, and few in the mainstream media even reported the denial.”

Up in smoke

“Politicians in Annapolis are scratching their heads wondering what happened to all those chain smokers who were supposed to help balance Maryland’s budget. Last year the legislature doubled the cigarette tax to $2 a pack to pay for expanded health-care coverage. Eight months later, cigarette sales have plunged 25 percent and the state is in fiscal distress again,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“A few pols are pretending to be happy that 30 million fewer cigarette packs have been bought in the state so far this year. As House Majority Leader Kumar Barve put it, fewer people smoking is ‘a good thing.’ Yes, except that Maryland may be losing retail sales more than smokers. Residents of Maryland’s Washington suburbs can shop in nearby Virginia, where the tax is only 30 cents a pack, and save at least $15 per carton,” the newspaper observed. …

“Maryland is only the latest state to prove the folly of trying to finance government with a tax on a shrinking pool of smokers. In New York City and state, tobacco taxes have been raised so many times that the retail cost can exceed $9 a pack about double the national average. Few budget-savvy smokers in the Big Apple pay that tax. Patrick Fleenor, an expert on tobacco taxes at the Tax Foundation, estimates that there is ‘now a 75 percent gap between cigarette sales in the city and cigarette consumption.’ In other words, three out of four cigarettes are bought elsewhere or are contraband. Out-of-state purchases, tax-free Internet sales and a cigarette black market are booming. …

“Members of Congress, please take note. Democrats are planning one more pre-election go at a $35 billion children’s health program expansion (S-chip) funded by a 61-cent per pack tobacco tax increase. They justify the new levy as a ‘sin tax.’ OK, but if Americans don’t start sinning a whole lot more, states and Uncle Sam are going to go broke.”

See no evil

“The [John] Edwards mess is the most recent and visible, but hardly unique, example of the mainstream media’s [MSM] hear no evil/see no evil approach to newsgathering,” Jennifer Rubin writes at www.commentarymagazine.com.

“How many other stories has the MSM missed, denied or avoided? From Rathergate to Reverend Wright to the success of the surge, the pattern is the same: MSM stalls, shuffles its collective feet, and doggedly ignores information for as long as possible until they can no longer do so with a straight face. The fact that these stories without exception work to the detriment of Democrats is apparently a grand coincidence,” the writer said.

“And the notion that they are upholding some ‘journalistic standard’ is rendered absurd. Edwards’ story wasn’t important on Thursday, but it was on Friday because he confessed? No, the level of proof changed, but the story’s relevance did not. If it wasn’t worthy of investigation before the ABC interview then it was unworthy of mention afterwards. Their explanation for their editorial decision-making is no more credible than … well than Edwards himself.”

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

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