- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Simply silly

“When the week’s New Yorker arrived with the caricature on the cover of Barack and Michelle Obama in Muslim and commie guerrilla garb respectively, fist-bumping in an Oval Office where Osama bin Laden’s picture hangs over the mantle, Obama’s campaign released a statement: ‘The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.’

“It is, indeed, a tasteless and offensive attack — on conservatives,” Mark Hemingway writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The New Yorker is right about one thing: If you’re a subscriber, you probably get the satire the magazine intended, even if the image itself has all the subtlety of a Michael Bay movie. The problem is not that the typically literate New Yorker reader won’t understand that the magazine isn’t earnestly portraying Obama as a member of al Qaeda. The problem is that liberal media types think this caricature of Obama actually exists in the heads of ‘right-wing critics.’”

Boomerang

“The problem with rapid response is precisely that it is rapid, and therefore might be hasty and ill-considered,” John Podhoretz writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine.com.

“That is clearly the case with the Obama camp’s amazingly dumb tantrum regarding the New Yorker cover — a magazine friendly to Obama whose illustration was clearly intended to be a parody of anti-Obama feeling on the right. Three seconds of thought might have led the campaign to reconsider its decision to denounce the illustration. Six seconds of thought might have led the campaign to see the illustration as an opportunity, to say, ‘The New Yorker has brilliantly encapsulated the evil right-wing campaign against Barack and Michelle Obama, a campaign that must not be allowed to gain purchase in the American psyche.’

“Had that been the response, an entire day on cable news would not have been spent on the illustration — it would instead have been a very minor story that would have been spun not as ‘is Obama a Muslim flag-burner’ but rather as ‘Is the right-wing attack machine going too far yet again?’

“Obama has now made certain that millions of people who never would have seen the New Yorker cover now have, and many of those people will take it literally. It’s a rapid response backfire.”

Rumormonger

“The federal takeover of IndyMac Bank over the weekend could cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. between $4 billion and $8 billion. But Sen. Chuck Schumer, who helped to precipitate the collapse by publicizing a letter to the bank’s regulator last month, has no remorse,” the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday in an editorial.

“He was, he says, just doing his job in telling regulators that the bank ‘could face a collapse,’ a prophecy that quickly proved to be self-fulfilling. ‘It’s what legislators are supposed to do,’ the New York Democrat told the Journal. Depositors who spent Monday trying to recover some of their money might beg to differ,” the newspaper said.

“The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), whose job it actually was to regulate IndyMac, took a different view. ‘The immediate cause of the closing,’ the OTS wrote in a press release, ‘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 OTS added: ‘In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts.’

“Mr. Schumer now argues that OTS was asleep at the switch, and that blaming him is like blaming ‘the fire on the guy who called 911.’ In fact, it’s blaming the guy who poured on the gasoline. Very few banks, if any, would remain standing for long in the current tense financial environment after a senator, in effect, told its depositors to run for the exits.”

Too breezy

Ron Fournier, just named acting Washington Bureau chief of the Associated Press, found himself being questioned Monday by liberal bloggers who thought he was being a little bit too friendly with Karl Rove in an e-mail from years ago.

Kate Klonick of Talking Points Memo and Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post both cited the e-mail, mentioned in a House Oversight Committee report on Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals star killed while serving his country in Afghanistan. The military tried to cover up the fact that Mr. Tillman died from friendly fire.

Mr. Rove, then a senior adviser to President Bush, exchanged e-mails with Mr. Fournier under the subject line “H-E-R-O.” In response to Mr. Fournier’s e-mail, Mr. Rove asked, “How does our country continue to produce men and women like this,” to which Mr. Fournier replied, “The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.”

Mr. Linkins, of Huffington Post, wondered what Mr. Fournier meant by “fight.”

The answer came later in an AP story.

“I was an AP political reporter at the time of the 2004 e-mail exchange, and was interacting with a source, a top aide to the president, in the course of following an important and compelling story,” Mr. Fournier said. “I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence.”

Backfire

John McCain often faces anti-war protesters at his speeches and town halls, but judging by several examples in recent weeks they may actually be helping him, particularly when he’s addressing neutral audiences,” reporter Stephen Dinan writes in his “On Republicans” blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“During his speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials last month he was thrice interrupted by Code Pink protesters, and each time the audience shouted down the interruptions, and each time they applauded McCain louder,” Mr. Dinan said.

“Then Monday, when McCain was addressing the National Council of La Raza, he was again interrupted by a protester, and he again won applause for calmly taking it.

“McCain’s standard answer to the protests is to say it’s what’s wrong with politics: that voters don’t want to see people shouting at each other anymore; they want to see people talking. That also gives McCain a chance to make his argument for face-to-face town hall meetings with Barack Obama.”

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

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