- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

‘Deaf ears’

“The attorney general warns that Gitmo prisoners could go free on U.S. streets. The Dems aren’t buying it,” Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball write at Newsweek.com.

“Raising the prospect that Guantanamo Bay inmates might be unleashed onto the streets of American cities, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Wednesday there is an ‘urgent’ need for Congress to enact a new law governing how federal courts handle legal challenges from detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba.

“But Mukasey’s plea for quick passage of a significant new counterterrorism measure essentially fell on deaf ears — at least from the Democrats who control Congress. ‘Zero,’ snapped one key lawmaker, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, when asked the likelihood that Congress will rush to pass the kind of law Mukasey and the Bush administration are seeking. ‘We don’t have to pass anything,’ said Nadler, who chairs the House subcommittee that has primary jurisdiction over the issue, in a brief hallway interview with Newsweek. ‘Let the courts deal with it.’

“The derisive comments from the feisty New York liberal — just moments after Mukasey issued his strong appeal in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — underscores the huge and poisonous gulf that now exists between the White House and Congress on virtually every issue related to the War on Terror.

“No Democrats on the judiciary panel endorsed Mukasey’s call Wednesday for new counterterrorism legislation. None of them even bothered to ask him any questions about it. Instead, they essentially ignored what the attorney general portrayed as the Justice Department’s top priority for his final six months in office.”

‘Self-serving’

“Berlin, Paris, Kalamazoo. He could have given this speech anywhere. [Sen. Barack] Obama goes to Berlin and winds up in Bangor. But maybe that was the point. Unlike JFK, [Bill] Clinton, or [Ronald] Reagan, Obama’s purpose in Berlin was essentially self-serving,” Amy Holmes writes in a blog at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The great cause at stake was his own campaign — not the threat of Communism, or adapting to a post-Communist world. The great purpose to which Obama was asking his Berlin audience to rally was his own presidential aspirations. Pretty thin, not the stuff of history books. And so far the American public agrees. All of the hoopla leading up to this moment has been in the press — not in the polling. Obama has yet to see a Berlin bounce. Maybe the visuals will help. The text was forgettable,” Miss Holmes said.

“Democrats keep trying to distract the public from the fact that during the dreaded Bush years French and German citizens replaced [Jacques] Chirac and [Gerhard] Schroeder (the latter of whom campaigned against Bush and the Iraq war) with [Nicolas] Sarkozy and [Angela] Merkel who promised to promote free market reforms. Obama drew applause when he promised to end the Iraq war. But then, so did [John] Kerry in 2004. Remember Kerry’s pledge to submit American national securities interests to an international ‘test’? That may have gone over, overseas. But it didn’t go over, over here.”

Fluid views

“Midway through the election year, the presidential campaign looks less like a race between two candidates than a referendum on one of them — Sen. Barack Obama,” reporters Gerald F. Seib and Laura Meckler write in the Wall Street Journal.

“With the nominations of both parties effectively settled for more than a month, the key question in the contest isn’t over any single issue being debated between the Democrats’ Sen. Obama or the Republicans’ Sen. John McCain. The focus has turned to the Democratic candidate himself: Can Americans get comfortable with the background and experience level of Sen. Obama?

“This dynamic is underscored in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey’s most striking finding: Fully half of all voters say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. Obama would be as they decide how they will vote, while only a quarter say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. McCain would be.

“The challenge that presents for Sen. Obama is illustrated by a second question. When voters were asked whether they could identify with the background and values of the two candidates, 58 percent said they could identify with Sen. McCain on that account, while 47 percent said the same of Sen. Obama. More than four in 10 said the Democratic contender doesn’t have values and a background they can identify with.

“Those findings suggest voters’ views of Sen. Obama are more fluid than his relatively steady lead indicates. In the latest poll, 47 percent say they prefer Sen. Obama to win, while 41 percent say Sen. McCain, the same lead Sen. Obama enjoyed a month ago. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.”

Hispanic voters

Democrat Sen. Barack Obama has opened a big lead among Hispanic voters, winning support from the vast majority of those who had voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, according to a poll released Thursday.

The national survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center, showed that 66 percent of Hispanic registered voters supported Mr. Obama, compared to 23 percent for Republican Sen. John McCain. The other 11 percent were undecided, the Associated Press reports.

More than three-quarters of Hispanics who had voted for Mrs. Clinton now say they are for Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton carried the Hispanic vote by about a 2-1 margin in the primaries.

Cartoon poll

Add one more item to the long list of disagreements between Democrats and Republicans: Whether it was appropriate for the New Yorker magazine to publish a cover satirizing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his wife as fist-bumping radicals.

Among those who had seen it, nearly two of three Democrats said it wasn’t right for the liberal-leaning publication to use the cartoon for its July 21 cover, roughly the same number of Republicans who said it was OK, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Seven in 10 Democrats said the cover was offensive and just over half called it racist — sentiments with which majorities of Republicans disagreed. Only about a fifth of Democrats thought it was clever or funny, as did larger minorities from the GOP.

For each question, independents’ views were more similar to Republicans than Democrats, the Associated Press reports. Overall, about half the public reported seeing the cover.

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

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