- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2008

‘Gender gap’

“The results of the New Hampshire primary help explain why politics is so fascinating for those of us who cover it, even though we all look more than faintly ridiculous right now,” Jonathan Alter writes at www.newsweek.com.

“I don’t have a clear explanation for how Hillary Clinton defied the polls and prognosticators to win, but amid our compromised credibility as analysts, let me humbly try. I do so with the help of my wife, Emily Lazar, whose own switching back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama may mirror some of what went on in the minds of ambivalent New Hampshire women, whose last-minute shift back to Clinton gave her the victory,” Mr. Alter said.

“The gender gap that has characterized general elections in this country for a generation has now opened up within the Democratic Party, too. If men and women had voted in the Democratic primary in equal numbers, Obama would have won. But 57 percent were women. In that sense, the continued failure of the Democrats to attract male voters helped determine the outcome of this contest.

“A more local factor may have been that many male independents figured that it made more sense to vote in the GOP primary for John McCain. If they were torn between McCain and Obama, as dozens I met were, the polls and pundits suggested that Obama didn’t need their support. He was by all accounts comfortably ahead.

“That left them free to help their sentimental favorite, McCain, slay former governor Mitt Romney of neighboring Massachusetts, whose policies are loathed by Granite State Democrats. (Judging by his loss, by Republicans, too.) So they voted in the Republican primary.”

Short interlude

“That was quick. The Clinton era was over for a grand total of five days,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“It was nice while it lasted — from the Iowa caucuses to the New Hampshire primary. But now Bill and Hillary are back in full force, with Bill doing the dirty work of trashing Barack Obama and Hillary stressing how much she cares. This division of labor seems to work. It certainly did in New Hampshire,” Mr. Barnes said.

“We should have known, despite the polls to the contrary and the mammoth crowds that Obama was attracting. Hillary Clinton managed to capture a voting bloc that pollsters didn’t account for in their surveys: single women and older women. For them, Obama was probably never even a consideration. Obamamania didn’t touch them. He wasn’t on their wavelength. Hillary was.

“She’s not the front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But she might as well be. She has resources: a broad base of support in the party, enough money, and now a shtick that may carry her through the South Carolina and Florida primaries and Tsunami Tuesday on February 5 (with 21 primaries).”

Video victory

A federal judge refused yesterday to delve into the destruction of CIA interrogation videos, saying there was no evidence the Bush administration violated a court order and the Justice Department deserved time to conduct its own investigation.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy was a victory for the Bush administration, which had urged the courts not to wade into a politically charged issue already being investigated by the Justice Department, CIA and Congress.

The CIA acknowledged last month that in 2005 it destroyed videos of officers using tough interrogation methods while questioning two al Qaeda suspects. Attorneys for other terrorism suspects quickly asked Judge Kennedy to hold hearings, saying the executive branch had proved itself unreliable and could not be trusted to investigate its own potential wrongdoing.

Judge Kennedy disagreed, the Associated Press reports, ruling that attorneys hadn’t “presented anything to cause this court to question whether the Department of Justice will follow the facts wherever they may lead and live up to the assurances it made to this court.”

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey recently appointed a prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation into destruction of the tapes. John Durham, a career public-corruption and organized-crime prosecutor, has a reputation for being independent.

Non-endorsement

Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council, the largest union among the nation’s force of rank-and-file U.S. Border Patrol agents, has yet to endorse anyone for president, but it is taking aim at one particular candidate, reporter Jerry Seper writes in his immigration blog at www3.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

“We will not endorse Sen. John McCain, even though he is currently representing our home state of Arizona,” the union local said in a posting on its Web page.

The union said Mr. McCain “has never been serious about immigration enforcement, and he has never been serious about supporting the Border Patrol,” adding that the Republican senator has routinely “minimized and trivialized” the illegal-immigration problem in this country. It said the only “solution” he has ever offered is a massive new amnesty program designed to reward illegal aliens who have succeeded in violating the nation’s laws.”

Rising sales

Demand is high for books by presidential contender Sen.Barack Obama.

The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., has ordered an additional 50,000 copies of Mr. Obama’s million-selling policy book, “The Audacity of Hope,” and another 10,000 for his million-selling memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” the Associated Press reported.

Both have been selling strongly in the past few weeks as campaigning intensified, with “Audacity of Hope” in the top 20 on Amazon.com as of yesterday morning and “Dreams From My Father” in the top 60.

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, was narrowly defeated in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Democratic primary by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Mrs. Clinton, a former first lady, also has written a million-selling memoir, “Living History,” for which sales have increased recently, although at a slower pace than for Mr. Obama’s books.

According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of industry sales, “Living History” averaged about 1,000 sales a week in December and early January, compared to more than 7,000 a week for “Audacity of Hope” and more than 2,000 for “Dreams From My Father.”

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

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