- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

Losing Christians

“After months of speeches and debates, and nearly $1 billion in total campaign spending to date, the presidential race is a dead heat,” Joel C. Rosenberg writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“A head-to-head showdown between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama is now too close to call — 45.9 percent to 44.6 percent — based on an averaging of national polls by realclearpolitics.com. A head-to-head showdown between McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is also razor-thin, 46 percent to 45.7 percent,” Mr. Rosenberg says.

“Now, a poll of likely Christian voters offers evidence of why the McCain campaign is struggling to gain real traction and a lead that can last. The poll was conducted among 1,000 likely Christian voters early last week, on behalf of November Communications Inc., the company I founded in 2000. McLaughlin & Associates, a leading polling firm for many Republican candidates, but unaffiliated in the current presidential campaign, conducted the survey.

“The Arizona senator is losing the Christian vote decisively to both Obama and Clinton, even though the poll was conducted as the recent firestorm over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. erupted.

“If the general election were held today, McCain would lose the Christian vote to the Democratic nominee — 36 percent to 45 percent — with 19 percent of Christian voters currently undecided.

“Among Protestants, McCain pulls even with the Democrats at 40 percent. But the Democrats have a whopping 32-point lead over McCain among Catholics.

“Among white evangelical Protestants, McCain is doing better (51 percent to 28 percent), but clearly they have not rallied behind him at this point.”

Media darling

“It is certainly no secret that Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is a darling of the news media,” Neal Gabler writes in the New York Times.

“Reporters routinely attach ‘maverick,’ ‘straight talker’ and ‘patriot’ to him like Homeric epithets. Chris Matthews of MSNBC has even called the press ‘McCain”s base’ — a comment that Mr. McCain himself has jokingly reiterated. The mainstream news media by and large don”t cover Mr. McCain; they canonize him. Hence the moniker on liberal blogs: St. McCain,” Mr. Gabler said.

“What is less obvious, however, is exactly why the press swoons for him. The answer, which says a great deal about both the political press and Mr. McCain, may be that he is something political reporters really haven”t seen in quite a while, perhaps since John F. Kennedy.

“Seeming to view himself and the whole political process with a mix of amusement and bemusement, Mr. McCain is an ironist wooing a group of individuals who regard ironic detachment more highly than sincerity or seriousness. He may be the first real postmodernist candidate for the presidency — the first to turn his press relations into the basis of his candidacy.”

Unlikely venue

NBC’s evening news broadcast on Tuesday noted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unlikely visit to a conservative Pittsburgh newspaper, the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Asked by anchor Brian Williams why Hillary Clinton chose Tuesday to assert that Rev. Jeremiah Wright ‘would not have been my pastor,’ Tim Russert declared ‘the setting in which she did this is particularly striking.’ …

“Russert pointed out: ‘The setting in which she did this is particularly striking. It’s a newspaper in Pittsburgh owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, who is described by her allies as the “Godfather” of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. The man who raised questions about the suicide of Vince Foster, the death of former party chairman Ron Brown, who funded investigations of Troopergate and Whitewater. It was that setting she decided to offer comments about Reverend Wright.’ ”

Mr. Baker added: “Of course, in the matter of Hillary Clinton’s ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’ effort to impugn critics of the Clinton administration for making recklessly false charges about her husband and Monica Lewinsky, the supposed conspirators were proven correct.”

3 more months

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an interview posted yesterday at time.com, told Mark Halperin the Democratic presidential race probably will last at least another three months.

“You said earlier today at your press conference that we’ll wait to see what happens in ‘the next three months.’ Does that mean that your assumption is, however these remaining contests turn out, that the race will go at least for the next three months?” Mr. Halperin asked.

“Well, that certainly is what I anticipate,” the New York senator replied. I think the elections that are yet to come deserve to be held because the people from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico to all the others that are waiting in line deserve to be heard. And I think that’s part of the good.

“You know, I remind a lot of people that my husband didn’t formally wrap up the nomination until June, and when he did he was behind both President Bush and Ross Perot. You know as well as anyone how dynamic elections are and how fluid they are, and I think that we’re going to win in November, and once we get our nominee chosen we’re going to have a very vigorous campaign to make sure that happens.”

Passport review

State Department workers viewed passport applications containing personal information about high-profile Americans, including the now-deceased Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith, at least 20 times since January 2007, the Associated Press has learned.

That total is far more than disclosed last week, with the news that presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama were victims of improper snooping.

It has not been determined if the new cases also involved inappropriate peeking, officials familiar with the review said yesterday. Mrs. Smith’s case, however, seems legitimate, the officials said. The review is not complete, and the exact number of cases was not yet clear.

Mrs. Smith, 39, died in February 2007 from an accidental overdose in Florida and was buried in the Bahamas, where she had moved in 2006. The review of her passport file appears to have come after a legitimate request from the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas for information needed to complete her death certificate, the officials said.

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

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