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Joe at the ready

Sen. Joe Lieberman seems to be positioning himself as a tenable running mate for Sen. John McCain.

Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party’s left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign,” the Connecticut independent wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right — regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it. John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately — the difference between America’s friends and America’s enemies.

“There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagansitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.”

The uh-s have it

“As political rituals go, the phony denial of interest in the VP nomination is among the most annoying. So credit Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for unequivocally stating their willingness to serve as McCain’s running mate,” observed Mark Finkelstein of Newsbusters yesterday.

“But please, politicians out there, spare us the feeble non-denial denials such as the one Jim Webb offered up on today’s ‘Morning Joe.’ Isn’t Webb supposed to be Mr. No-Nonsense Macho Man? After all, he was on the show to tout his new book, ‘A Time to Fight,’ and to talk up his rough ‘n tumble Scots-Irish roots,” Mr. Finkelstein noted.

What did Mr. Webb say — or not say — when asked if he was interested in an Obama/Webb ticket?

“I, uh, that’s just not something that’s basically been discussed, and uh, something I haven’t really thought about,” Mr. Webb told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.

Courtroom drama

What really gets to Republicans? When it comes to how they will vote come November, GOPers say “that the type of Supreme Court justices a candidate would appoint is more important than the war in Iraq,” according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released yesterday.

It found that 44 percent pick the economy as the top voting issue, 30 percent name judicial appointments, and just 19 percent pick the war in Iraq.

Among all voters, 52 percent cite the economy, more than a quarter name Iraq, and 17 percent say judicial appointments are the key. Among Democrats, 7 percent name judicial appointments as the most important of those issues.

Overall, 61 percent of voters say they trust voters more than judges or elected officials to decide important decisions facing the country; among Republicans, the number was 64 percent, among Democrats 54 percent.

The survey of 800 voters was conducted May 19-20 with a margin of error of four percentage points.

The Bob factor

And what of Bob Barr’s quest for the presidency?

“Barr is famous enough, especially among the conservative talk-radio set, and his resume of red-meat Republicanism in the 1990s and harder-line libertarianism in recent years may help him put together an unlikely coalition of Ron Paul Republicans and Rush Limbaugh Republicans,” wrote James Antle at AmericanSpectator.com yesterday.

“The more of the latter group he brings in, the more he can serve as a Ralph Nader of the right than a Pat Buchanan. Some of this depends on how much Barr wants to risk being seen as responsible for John McCain’s defeat … Most of all, however, it depends on his ability to win the Libertarian nomination, period.”

Snore factor

Even the press has election fatigue, according to Megan Garber of the Columbia Journalism Review yesterday.

Tim Russert’s grin is just slightly less broad. The mischievous twinkle in Pat Buchanan’s eye is fading. John King’s fingers, when they work the Wonder Wall, are slightly less agile. Brit Hume seems even more lethargic than usual. Chants of ‘Yes! We! Can!’ and ‘Yes! We! Will!’ have given way to shouts of ‘Make! It! End!’

“No longer is every little thing the remaining Democratic candidates do exciting and worthy of report. We’ve heard their stories — over and over and over. We know all too well their mannerisms and their quirks, their physical tics and their habits of mind. We’re in the Long Haul. The honeymoon’s over.”

“So when … Obama won the majority of pledged delegates in the Democratic nominating contest — a feat that would have made for a Big Night Out in any other context — we were, as a whole, kinda bored.”

The subplot

What? The real race for president hasn’t even started yet? Well, no matter. The wrangle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton makes an engaging dress rehearsal with a cast of thousands.

“Certain groups that were already highly supportive of Obama for the nomination — men, 18- to 29-year-olds, postgrads, and upper-income Democrats — are now overwhelmingly in his camp. Obama is currently favored among these groups by a 2-to-1 margin, or better, over Clinton,” writes Gallup Poll analyst Lydia Saad.

“Support for Clinton among some of her traditionally stalwart support groups — women, Easterners, whites, adults with no college education, and Hispanics — has fallen below 50 percent. The only major demographic group still supporting Clinton to the tune of 51 percent is women aged 50 and older. This group’s preferences have changed little during May, at the same time that Clinton’s support among younger men (those 18 to 49) has declined by nearly 10 points.”

Along with “maximum” support from black voters, Mr. Obama is the “preferred candidate of men, young adults, and highly educated Democrats, and has erased Clinton’s advantages with most of her prior core constituency groups, including women, the less well-educated, and whites.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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