- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Growing problem

Even Sen. Barack Obama’s supporters are demanding answers about his pastor.

“As a vocal supporter, I’d like just a couple of answers about the flap over Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, the Chicago megachurch where the Obamas have been members for 20 years,” Gerald Posner wrote Saturday at www.huffington post.com.

“The key issue for me … revolves around what I view as Wright’s most incendiary comments, those implying that America — because of its own actions — deserved the 9/11 terror attacks. Wright made his comments on September 16, only five days after the deadly strikes … He said, in part, ‘We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye.’

“If the parishioners of Trinity United Church were not buzzing about Rev. Wright’s post 9/11 comments, then it could only seem to be because those comments were not out of character with what he preached from the pulpit many times before. In that case, I have to wonder if it is really possible for the Obamas to have been parishioners there — by 9/11 they were there more than a decade — and not to have known very clearly how radical Wright’s views were.

“If, on the other hand, parishioners were shocked by Wright’s vitriol only days after more than 3,000 Americans had been killed by terrorists, they would have talked about it incessantly. Barack — a sitting Illinois state senator — would have been one of the first to hear about it. Can’t you imagine the call or conversation? ‘Barack, you aren’t going to believe what Reverend Wright said yesterday at the church. You should be ready with a comment if someone from the press calls you up.’ But Barack now claims he never heard about any of this until after he began his run for the presidency, in February 2007.”

New governor

David Paterson was officially sworn in as New York’s governor yesterday, becoming the state’s first black chief executive and vowing to move past the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal that has rocked the state Capitol.

Mr. Paterson, who is legally blind, was interrupted at several points during his address with thunderous applause. Before he gave his inaugural address, lawmakers in attendance gave him a two-minute standing ovation and chanted his name, the Associated Press reports.

The 53-year-old former lieutenant governor said he will get right to work on the budget and other matters. The Legislature faces an April 1 deadline to pass an estimated $124 billion budget.

“This transition today is a historic message to the world: That we live by the same values that we profess, and we are a government of laws, not individuals,” he said.

Lawmakers including presidential candidate Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York City MayorMichael R. Bloomberg and governors from three neighboring states — attended the ceremony. Mr. Spitzer did not.

Chafee vs. Clinton

Former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, the lone Republican senator to vote against the Iraq war, calls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton one of the “Democratic Bush enablers” who failed to stand up to the president.

In a new book, Mr. Chafee, who is backing Sen. Barack Obama, skewers Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic White House hopefuls who said they were duped by President Bush into voting for the war, the Associated Press reports.

“Being wrong about sending Americans to kill and be killed, maim and be maimed, is not like making a punctuation mistake in a highway bill,” Mr. Chafee writes. “They argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment, in my view.”

Mr. Chafee lost his 2006 re-election bid. Mr. Chafee’s book is titled “Against The Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President.”

Michigan moves

Legislative leaders in Michigan reviewed a measure yesterday that would set up a privately funded, state-administered presidential primary on June 3, the Associated Press learned.

The draft legislation would approve spending $12 million in privately raised funds for the election, according to a Democratic leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Democratic National Committee stripped Michigan of its delegates to the party’s national convention for holding a primary before Feb. 5.

The Democrat-led House is scheduled to leave for a two-week vacation Thursday, so the bills would need to be brought up quickly. The measure also would have to be approved by the Republican-led Senate.

The campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama received copies of the bill yesterday.

“A revote is the only way Michigan can be assured its delegation will be seated” at the convention, said Clinton aide Harold Ickes. “If the Obama campaign thwarts a fair election process for the people of Michigan, it will jeopardize” the Democrats’ chances there in November.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor called it “pretty apparent that the Clinton campaign’s views on voting are dependent on their own political interest.”

Skeletons

Most Americans think every politician has a skeleton in his or her closet as potentially damaging as that of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, according to a new Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen Reports poll.

Maybe because they were just burned by one of their own, Democrats were the most pessimistic about officeholders, with 63 percent saying they suspect most politicians “have secrets that would ruin their careers if revealed in the media.” For Republicans, 57 percent suspected their leaders are flawed, while 55 percent of third-party adherents and independents were wary.

Meanwhile, Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans to think the country’s economic situation is dire, the poll found.

While 48 percent of self-identified Democrats say the economy likely “will sink into a depression similar to 1929,” only 26 percent of Republicans predicted that drastic an economic downturn.

There was far more unanimity on cutting taxes, with 61 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats saying the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax should be suspended until gas prices come down. The poll of 1,000 adults was taken March 11-12 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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

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