- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obamacons

“There have been a few celebrated cases of conservatives endorsing Obama, like the blogger Andrew Sullivan and the legal scholar Douglas Kmiec,” Bruce Bartlett writes in the New Republic.

“But you probably have not have heard of many of the Obamacons - and neither has the Obama campaign. When I checked with it to ask for a list of prominent conservative supporters, the campaign seemed genuinely unaware that such supporters even existed. But those of us on the right who pay attention to think tanks, blogs, and little magazines have watched Obama compile a coterie drawn from the movement’s most stalwart and impressive thinkers,” Mr. Bartlett said.

“The largest group of Obamacons hail from the libertarian wing of the movement. And it’s not just Andrew Sullivan. Milton and Rose Friedman’s son, David, is signed up with the cause on the grounds that he sees Obama as the better vessel for his father’s cause. Friedman is convinced of Obama’s sympathy for school vouchers - a tendency that the Democratic primaries temporarily suppressed. Scott Flanders, the CEO of Freedom Communications - the company that owns The Orange County Register - told a company meeting that he believes Obama will accomplish the paramount libertarian goals of withdrawing from Iraq and scaling back the Patriot Act. …

“How substantial is the Obamacon phenomenon? Well, it has even penetrated National Review, the intellectual anchor of the conservative movement. There’s Jeffrey Hart, who has been a senior editor at the magazine since 1968 and even wrote a history of the magazine, ‘The Making of the American Conservative Mind’; and Wick Allison, who once served as the magazine’s publisher.”

Pundits in love

“First it was Chris Matthews getting a thrill up his leg when he thought of Barack Obama; then it was Newsweek giving Obama a free pass on everything; now it is Mark Halperin over at Time warning that the Charisma Machine is going to roll right over McCain in November, with the media’s hand on the wheel,” Noemie Emery writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“How old McCain looks! How decrepit he is! How sick everyone (especially the press) is of everyone but Obama! How stunning he is! How inspiring he is! How ‘valuable’ he makes people feel, telling them they are the ones they are waiting for. How ‘powerful’ it will be when he debates John McCain on security issues, and comes out the better. How ‘forcefully’ Obama will ‘move to the center as a mainstream, optimistic candidate,’ celebrating both America’s greatness, and ‘change.’ (And how great will it be when he ducks into the phone booth, and out comes … never mind.)

“Anything can happen, in the Belmont Stakes and in politics, and perhaps Halperin is right in saying McCain underestimates Obama’s pizzazz, and the desire of the press to promote it. But it is also possible he overestimates both Obama, and the power of journalists, himself among them.”

‘Excess’ profits

“The three broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage, of a Democratic Senate plan to somehow lower gas prices by imposing a ‘windfall profits’ tax on oil companies which they would just pass on to consumers, around how Republicans ‘blocked’ the effort,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“No one cast any doubt on the presumption the oil companies are earning ‘windfall’ and/or ‘excessive’ profits,” Mr. Baker said.

“Fill-in NBC anchor Ann Curry’s very short update: ‘Now to the high price of oil and gas. Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic plan to impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.’

“CBS’s Katie Couric, who unlike Curry at least noted how ‘Republicans said it would have done nothing to lower the price of gas,’ asserted: ‘Senate Republicans today blocked Democrats from slapping a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies.’

“ABC twice displayed on screen text favorable to the liberal position: ‘Senate Republicans block Democratic plan to tax oil companies’ windfall profits.’ And: ‘Special tax for excessive oil profits.’ ”

Who to blame

“In a New York Times op-ed piece on June 8, Hillary Clinton’s former strategist Mark Penn blamed his candidate’s humiliating defeat on the failure of the campaign’s fundraising and budgeting operations. It’s hard to understand how a campaign that raised $200 million could seriously be described as falling short financially. Penn is definitely looking in the wrong direction. He should look in the mirror instead,” Dick Morris writes in The Hill newspaper.

“There was only one major reason that Hillary lost: Her message of experience and inevitability, devised by Penn, was fatally flawed. To make things worse, on Penn’s advice, she stayed with the foolish strategy long after she and everyone around her should have realized its inherent weakness,” Mr. Morris said.

“In our 2004 book, ‘Rewriting History,’ my wife Eileen McGann and I discussed Hillary’s proclivity for placing unwavering faith in her guru du jour. During her health care debacle, she followed Ira Magaziner’s unworkable doctrinaire approach for far too long; on the Armed Services Committee, she admiringly adhered to the opinions of charismatic but hawkish generals in backing the war in Iraq. And in her own campaign, she clung to Mark Penn’s disastrous strategy, dooming her historic presidential campaign. By the time that she finally kicked him downstairs, it was too late.”

Primary results

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina easily won his Republican primary but won’t know his November opponent until state officials finish a recount, the Associated Press reports.

Engineer Bob Conley was nearly 1,000 votes ahead of attorney Michael Cone in the Democratic primary for the chance to run against Mr. Graham. A recount is required because the margin of victory was so small.

Meanwhile, the stage was set for an expensive and closely watched Senate race in Maine as U.S. Rep. Tom Allen won the Democratic primary and will face incumbent Sen. Susan Collins who was unopposed in the Republican primary.

In southern Maine’s 1st District, where Mr. Allen is giving up his seat, Chellie Pingree, a former state Senate majority leader, won the Democratic primary while Charlie Summers, a former state senator who recently returned from duty with the Navy in Iraq, won the Republican race.

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

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