- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Closed ears

The press almost totally ignored Michelle Obama’s observation last week that the $600 stimulus check taxpayers received from Uncle Sam was only enough to buy a pair of earrings.

The Washington Times political reporter Ralph Z. Hallow notes that when he mentioned the incident in separate phone conversations with several well-known political commentators, the response from each was, “She said what? How come I haven’t heard that before now?”

Why indeed? Mrs. Obama, who has been tagged as an elitist by foes, again opened herself to that charge, but the press (and John McCain’s campaign) seemed to be focused exclusively on the gaffe McCain surrogate Phil Gramm made in saying Americans were a nation of whiners when it comes to the economy.

That same day, Mrs. Obama, addressing a women’s panel in Pontiac, Mich., with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in the audience, answered a question about the economic stimulus checks mailed by the U.S. government earlier this year.

“You’re getting $600,” she said to the audience of mostly black women. “What can you do with that? Not to be ungrateful or anything. But maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn’t pay down every bill every month.”

She added: “Barack’s approach is that the short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good. And it may even feel good that first month when you get that check. And then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings.”

Cover story

Barack Obama’s campaign lashed out at the editors of the New Yorker magazine for a cartoon cover that depicts the Democratic candidate and his wife as fist-bumping terrorists, the New York Daily News reports.

The magazine’s editor described the cartoon, called “The Politics of Fear,” as satire. The Obama campaign called it “tasteless and offensive.”

The Illinois senator is depicted in traditional Muslim garb in the Barry Blitt illustration set in the Oval Office.

His wife, Michelle, is in fatigues, sporting an Angela Davis-style sky-high Afro, an AK-47 slung over her shoulder.

A portrait of terror kingpin Osama Bin Laden hangs above the fireplace, in which an American flag is set ablaze.

“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.

‘Fingers of blame’

“An important angle in the IndyMac failure that may get lost in ominous headlines tonight and tomorrow: Federal regulators pointedly cited U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., in explaining the bank’s failure. In simple language, federal regulators blamed Schumer for a run on the bank,” Peter Viles wrote Monday in a blog at latimes.com.

Here’s from the press release issued by IndyMac’s regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision: ‘The OTS has determined that the current institution, IndyMac Bank, is unlikely to be able to meet continued depositors’ demands in the normal course of business and is therefore in an unsafe and unsound condition. The immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued after the public release of a June 26 letter to the OTS and the FDIC from Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The letter expressed concerns about IndyMac’s viability. In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts.’ …

“Schumer’s response? In an e-mail quoted by Bloomberg News, he says: ‘If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac’s poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn’t be where we are today. … Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs.’”

Metamorphosis

“Feel free to tell me I’m nuts for asking the question, but doesn’t it seem that, more and more, the McCain campaign is turning into the Clinton campaign?” John Heilemann writes at mymag.com.

“The comparison smacked me upside the head last week, when the turmoil and melodrama attending the internal functioning — or, rather, dysfunctioning — of the Republican nominee’s organization burst into public view. Just a few days after John McCain had shaken up his operation, demoting his campaign manager Rick Davis and elevating bullet-headed adjutant Steve Schmidt to a position of putative near-total authority, Bill Kristol confidently predicted in his column in the [New York] Times that McCain would soon bring consultant Mike Murphy aboard as the campaign’s chief strategist,” Mr. Heilemann said.

“Kristol wasn’t flat wrong, or so I’m told by a longtime McCain confidant. The Arizona senator did indeed offer the gig to Murphy, who served on McCain’s 2000 primary bid and whose counsel the candidate had been receiving on the down-low for months. But the outcry among McCain’s other advisers, many of whom openly loathe Murphy, was simply too intense. So a little more than 24 hours after Kristol’s column was published, Murphy announced that his re-entry wasn’t gonna happen; instead, he would be going to work for MSNBC.”

Tough love

“Thank you, Jesse Jackson!” Cynthia Tucker writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It’s been a long time since the self-proclaimed black leader did anything useful, but Jackson has now — quite unintentionally — turned a bright spotlight on Barack Obama’s traditional views of parenthood. With his crude remarks several days ago, Jackson raised public awareness of an aspect of Obama’s beliefs that would have received little news media attention otherwise,” the writer said.

“Apparently believing the microphone was off during a break on the set of ‘Fox & Friends,’ Jackson whispered to health insurance executive Reed Tuckson, who is black, that Obama was ‘talking down to black people. I wanna cut his n-ts out.’

“Since then, the news cycle has been filled not only with Jackson’s apology, but also with commentary over what Obama said to provoke Jackson’s outrage. Now, many more Americans have been exposed to Obama’s completely conventional, common-sense beliefs that fathers should be actively involved in their children’s lives and that parents ought to encourage educational excellence.”

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

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