- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2008

Like old times

“Anyone remember the “K Street Project”? Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and conservative activist Grover Norquist designed it to pressure the business community into hiring GOP lobbyists, supporting GOP causes, and giving money to GOP candidates,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“The press was shocked, shocked, to discover such behavior, and ran endless coverage of this nefarious GOP operation. Democrats were shocked, shocked, too, and charged that the project was the root of Washington’s corruption: ‘If we’re ever going to have real change here, we must kill the K Street Project,’ thundered Nancy Pelosi.

“But it was not even remotely shocking to discover that the party in power strong-arms the business community. Democrats spent 40 years in the majority demanding that industry hire former staffers and write checks as a price of access. The K Street Project was created in the mid-‘90s by Republicans following suit. Now the left is at it again. Call it the K Street Project, Part Blue. …

“In private, and public, Democrats are telling companies they’re frustrated with what they view as too slow a shift in the political makeup of lobby shops. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez recently quipped that if companies didn’t start sending friendlier faces, they might find it ‘a little difficult at the end of the day for them to achieve the success they want.’ North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan (who apparently has read the ethics law) clarified: ‘It’s not about how many Democrats are hired. It’s about how they weigh in on issues.’ Got that, corporate America? You can still employ Republicans, just so long as they act like Democrats.”

Empty rhetoric

“Anyone who wants to understand Barack Obama would do well to stay away from the radio and the TV,” Andrew Ferguson writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Obama is a theatrical presence. That’s what it means to be ‘charismatic’: To an unnerving degree his appeal relies on sight and sound rather than sense. Better, in my opinion, to stick to the printed word. On paper (or the computer screen) his words can be thought about and chewed over. You can understand him at your own pace, undistracted by that rich baritone, the regal bearing, the excellent drape of his Burberry suits,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“The printed word has its problems, too, of course. You really need to be on your toes if you’re going to get anything out of a newspaper’s election coverage. You’ve got to tune your ear to euphemism and translate as you go. So last Friday, having missed the television broadcasts of Obama’s speech in Berlin the day before, I read The Washington Post with a cocked ear, and when I saw that the speech was described as ‘broadly thematic’ and ‘sober and serious’ I knew exactly what it meant: a boring speech full of blah blah blah.

“And so it was. In the Post as elsewhere, as much coverage was devoted to the speech’s setting the sprawling crowds and the dramatic backdrop and the tingling sense of anticipation — as to the speech itself. The paper didn’t even bother to print verbatim excerpts, as it usually does with a big-time address. The occasion had been taken as an invitation to deliver a summary of Obama’s view of America’s role in the world. When his handlers decided to schedule a speech in Berlin, they teed up comparisons with the portentous speeches that Presidents Kennedy and Reagan had delivered there.

“Instead, in the heart of Europe, before 200,000 breathless admirers, Obama pulled himself up to his full height, lifted his chin, unlimbered those eloquent hands, and said nothing at all.”

He’ll be missed

“A panting BBC presenter interrupts the rolling news to tell the nation that [Sen. Barack] Obama’s flight has actually touched down at Heathrow, not because of the senator’s race or charm, but because Obama is riding the crest of the global wave of relief that Bush is leaving. A wave that is about to break. It doesn’t know it, but the liberal-left in Europe and North America has been lucky to have Bush,” Nick Cohen writes in the British newspaper the Guardian.

“By building him up into a great Satan, the oilman who invades countries to seize their reserves and the Christian who orders bloody crusades, they have hidden the totalitarian threats of our age from themselves and anyone who listens to them. Bush allowed them to explain away radical Islam as an understandable, even legitimate, response to the hypocrisies and iniquities of American policy.” Mr. Cohen said.

He added: “In January, Bush will be history, leaving liberals all alone in a frightening world. Little else will change. Radical Islam will still authorize murder without limit, Iran will still want the bomb and the autocracies of China and Russia will still be growing in wealth and confidence. All those who argued that the ‘root cause’ of the Bush administration lay behind the terror will find that the terror still flourishes when the root cause has retired.”

Creativity

“Raising the tens of millions needed for today’s high-priced political campaigns requires creativity, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s latest idea ranks right up there with the best of them: Scalp Bruce Springsteen tickets,” the New York Post says in an editorial.

“The senator’s re-election campaign grabbed 40 prime house seats, $108 each, to [Sunday’s] concert at Giants Stadium from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — tickets not available to the general public,” the newspaper said.

“Lautenberg planned to distribute the tickets to the first 40 fat cats who kicked in $1,500 to his campaign as part of a pre-concert reception — a markup of about 1,300 percent. …

“A local columnist blew the whistle, wondering why a state agency was subsidizing a political campaign. Luckily for Lautenberg, campaigns are exempt from New Jersey’s anti-scalping laws. (Politicians write the laws, after all.)

“Amid all the negative publicity, the authority decided to rescind the ticket sale — whereupon Lautenberg’s campaign announced that it was canceling the fund-raising event. And — get this — the campaign then issued a haughty blast at the authority, suggesting that it ‘re-examine its practice of reserving tickets’ so that ‘all New Jersey residents, not just VIPs,’ will have access to the best seats.”

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

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