- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

History rerun?

Barack Obama’s current political circumstance is eerily similar to that of Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign for president,” Bob Beckel writes at www.realclear politics.com.

“Both Obama and Reagan, from the beginning of their insurgent campaigns, were viewed as transformative political figures. Both enjoyed passionate grass-roots support,” Mr. Beckel said.

“Both men had defeated centrist establishment candidates for their party’s nomination. Reagan defeated George H.W. Bush, who was viewed by the growing conservative base of the Republican Party as too moderate. Obama beat Hillary Clinton whose husband had been elected twice by moving away from his party’s traditional progressive roots and running as a centrist, a path Clinton herself followed (at least at the beginning of her campaign).

“In 1980 most conventional political observers failed to recognize the growing grass-roots power of the rock-solid conservative activists who propelled Reagan to his party’s nomination. In the 2008 presidential campaign supporters of Hillary Clinton failed to recognize the growing assertiveness of the Democrats’ progressive base, especially over the Iraq war, which she initially supported and Obama opposed.

“The failures of the Bush administration convinced many progressives that the conservative cycle, deep into its third decade, had run its course. These activists believed the country was ready to tack back toward more progressive and transparent government. Barack Obama recognized and embraced this growing progressive movement.”

Obama’s task

“Democrats may talk of making the economy the issue this fall, but Republicans are going to make Barack the issue,” syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan writes.

“Story line: We cannot entrust our beloved America, in a time of war, to this radical and exotic figure who has so many crazy and extremist associates.

“Barack’s problem is thus Reagan’s problem,” Mr. Buchanan said.

“As the country wished to be rid of Jimmy Carter in 1980, so the nation today wishes to be rid of Bush and his Republicans. But America is apprehensive over a roll of the dice, in Bill Clinton’s metaphor.

“How did Reagan ease the anxiety? In the debate with Carter, he came off as conservative, yes, but also traditional, mainstream, witty and the more likable man. The real Reagan came through.

“With his persona, Barack may be able to do the same - in the debates. The problem is that he had two dozen debates with Hillary and, by the end of the primary season, five months after it began, he was still losing ground.”

Insult to LBJ

“Somewhere, Lyndon B. Johnson is insulted,” Jeffrey Lord writes at www.spectator .org.

“Claiming victory in the race for the Democrats’ nomination, Sen. Barack Obama said this: ‘Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’

“Excuse me? You mean all those LBJ Great Society programs didn’t provide care for the sick, secure good jobs for the jobless and take care of the environment?” Mr. Lord asked. He then presented long lists of such programs pushed through by Mr. Johnson, including Medicare and Medicaid.

“Is it any wonder that the ghost of LBJ is fuming? All of this and more, oh so much more, and suddenly here comes this Obama guy insisting that only by electing him can America ‘begin’ to ‘provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless’ and cite the Obama-era as the time ‘our planet began to heal.’

“Begin? What was all of this LBJ stuff costing Americans into the trillions? Democrats as skin-flint right-wingers?

“Seriously. What has Barack Obama been doing since he was elected a United States senator four years ago? Has he ever set foot in any of the mammoth concrete boxes crowding the streets of Washington, D.C.? Has he been inside them to see the hordes of very well-paid bureaucrats who are busy looking over the shoulders of 300-plus million American citizens to make sure they are obeying every last one of the millions of regulatory jots and tittles that enforce LBJ’s list?”

Hey, bogeyman

“Way back in the primary, Wal-Mart was a bogeyman. Barack Obama, you may hazily recall, even attacked Hillary Clinton for sitting on its board,” Ben Smith writes in a blog at www.politico .com.

“So there’s quite a lot of grumbling in labor circles today about his bringing on Jason Furman as his chief economic-policy adviser, because Furman wrote a key, 2005 defense of Wal-Mart from the left, titled, unironically, ‘Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story.’

“The piece makes two arguments. The first is that Wal-Mart lowers prices, so low-income people (and others) can buy more. The second is that Wal-Mart’s low-wage jobs are consistent with the Clintonite philosophy of making work pay, and that the right fix is to have government subsidize the low-wage workers’ salaries and help provide them health care. He denies that Wal-Mart lowers local wages.

“His only criticism of Wal-Mart is for, in its lobbying, not supporting those progressive policies.”

Mr. Smith added: “Furman’s arrival is one more mark of the transition to a general election in which labor may grumble, but really has nowhere else to go, and in which virtually all major unions backed his rivals in the primary - giving them seriously diminished clout on his campaign.”

‘Witch trials’

Former Rep. Patricia Schroeder, one of the nation’s more prominent feminists, blames sexism for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the Media Research Center (www.mrc.org) reports.

When “CBS Early Show” co-host Harry Smith on Monday asked Mrs. Schroeder whether Mrs. Clinton had gotten “a fair shake” during the campaign, this is what Mrs. Schroeder replied:

“It troubles me a lot what we saw. It was like they made a witch out of her, some people. You know, we thought the Salem witch trials were over. But some people, no matter what she said, it was ‘Don’t believe it. She’s really evil.’ This is - I’ve never seen anyone do that to a candidate.”

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

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