- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

Panther posting

Sen. Barack Obama, struggling to distance himself from racially incendiary sermons by his longtime pastor, yesterday faced renewed scrutiny because of an endorsement from an anti-government, black-separatist group on his campaign’s official blog site.

The New Black Panther Party, a “black power” group that calls on blacks to arm themselves and frequently espouses anti-white and anti-Semitic rhetoric, posted an endorsement on the Web site that said: “Obama will stir the ‘Melting Pot’ into a better ‘Molten America.’ “

The campaign yesterdaytook down the Black Panthers’ page on the Web site.

“We removed the user-generated blog post because we don’t condone any group that advocates violence,” Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporter S.A. Miller of The Washington Times. “Senator Obama gave a 37-minute speech about race [Tuesday], and we hope people will focus on that and not what one individual posted on a blog.”

He said the Web site, my. barackobama.com, allows supporters to set up their own blog pages and the site now includes more than 1 million pages.

The association with the Black Panthers hit Mr. Obama on the heels of the Tuesday speech in which he disavowed racist sermons by his longtime friend and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

McCain ahead

Democratic Sen.Barack Obama’s big national lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has all but evaporated, and both Democrats trail Republican Sen. John McCain, according a Reuters/Zogby poll released yesterday.

The poll showed Mr. Obama had only a statistically insignificant lead of 47 percent to 44 percent over Mrs. Clinton, down sharply from a 14-point edge he held over her in February when he was riding the tide of 10 straight primary and caucus victories.

The poll showed Mr. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, Reuters reports.

Mr. McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Mr. Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.

That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Mr. Obama would beat Mr. McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.

“The last couple of weeks have taken a toll on Obama and in a general election matchup, on both Democrats,” said pollster John Zogby.

Matched against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain leads 48 percent to 40 percent, narrower than his 50 percent to 38 percent advantage over her in February.

Friendly coverage

“The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage of Barack Obama’s speech, in reaction to the furor over the racist, paranoid and America-hating remarks of his longtime pastor, not by focusing on what it says about Obama’s true views and judgment but by admiring his success in ‘confronting’ the issue of ‘race in America’ in an ‘extraordinary’ speech,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Indeed, both ABC and CBS displayed ‘Race in America’ on screen as the theme to their coverage, thus advancing Obama’s quest to paint himself as a candidate dedicated to addressing a serious subject, not explain his ties to racially tinged hate speech. NBC went simply with ‘The Speech’ as Brian Williams described it as ‘a speech about race.’

“In short, the approach of the networks was as toward a friend in trouble, and they wanted to help him put the unpleasantness behind him by focusing on his noble cause. ‘Barack Obama addresses the controversial comments of his pastor, condemning the words but not the man,’ CBS’s Katie Couric teased before heralding: ‘And he calls on all Americans to work for a more perfect union.’

“On ABC, Charles Gibson announced: ‘Barack Obama delivers a major speech confronting the race issue head on, and says it’s time for America to do the same.’ Reporting ‘Obama challenged Americans to confront the country’s racial divide,’ Gibson hailed ‘an extraordinary speech.’

“NBC’s Lee Cowan admired how ‘in the City of Brotherly Love, Barack Obama gave the most expansive and most intensely personal speech on race he’s ever given,’ adding it reflected ‘honesty that struck his rival Hillary Clinton.’ On NBC, Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart asserted ‘it was a very important speech for the nation. It was very blunt, very honest’ and so ‘a very important gift the senator has given the country.’ ”

A conversion

David Mamet’s public coming-out as a political conservative — done in a 2,500-word essay in the Village Voice last week — is wonderful news for the culture, far better, I fear, than many conservatives will appreciate,” novelist Andrew Klavan writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“The left has monopolized the arts for so long that some on the right have lost the knack of them. We love to denounce Hollywood and indulge in paroxysms of rage about the latest artistic insults to patriotism and God. But when it comes actually to producing mature and complex works of art — or supporting the people who produce them — a good conservative can be very hard to find,” Mr. Klavan said.

“Mamet, on the other hand, is a pillar of the arts. I don’t know if he’s America’s greatest living playwright, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a better one. …

“The journey 60-year-old Mamet has made from being what he calls a ‘brain-dead liberal’ to acknowledging the genius of philosophers such as Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman is a difficult one for an artist. We in the creative world swim in liberalism like fish in water. It’s hard for us even to imagine that one might evolve and walk on dry land.

“ ’Yes,’ we might say to ourselves, ‘it certainly does seem that history has vindicated those warmongering right-wingers who opposed the Soviet Union. And really, in secret, one must admit that women and men are pretty fundamentally different. It does seem true, as well, that government programs manifestly worsen the problems they’re designed to solve, whereas freedom in markets and ideas always seems strangely to improve things. … But that doesn’t mean I’m a conservative! Conservatives are mean, racist, sexist, greedy — and they hate gay people, who are an artist’s colleagues and friends! I’m nothing like that.’ “

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

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