- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

THE TALON POOL

Peace now? Well, not just yet, perhaps.

“Anti-war groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama’s national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues,” notes the Los Angeles Times.

Activists who backed Mr. Obama fear he is abandoning his “anti-war moorings” and easing up on his rigid timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“There´s so much Obama hero worship, we´re having to walk this line where we can´t directly criticize him. But we are expressing concern,” said Kevin Martin of Peace Action.

“Welcome to Washington, where it´s almost always a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’ Obama needed to impress the left to get the nomination, and now he needs to shed himself of the albatross in order to govern,” advises Ed Morrissey of Hot Air.

BUSHIE FOR ‘BAMA

The Obama wheel-of-fortune could favor a man sure to vex peaceniks: A member of the Bush Cabinet.

“As Barack Obama makes his way through the transition to power, he is learning the steps of an old dance. Having promised change, he now surrounds himself with experience. Having poured scorn not only on the Bush administration but at times on the Clinton administration as well, he now welcomes those who served his Democratic predecessor, including the former first lady who ran against him. And having roundly denounced current foreign and military policies, he may very well ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in place,” writes Joe Conason of the New York Observer.

“While Mr. Obama displays both confidence and maturity in embracing his former adversaries, he must expect cries of outrage and disappointment from his own supporters. If the prospect of appointing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state irritates the Obama base, what will they make of keeping the man who has executed President Bush´s policies at the Pentagon?”

“First it is important to recall that the president-elect vowed to bring change to politics as well as policy. The Obama administration would foster bipartisan cooperation wherever possible, he said, especially in matters of foreign policy and national security. If those are his objectives then retaining Mr. Gates makes considerable sense - at least for the time being.”

SECRETARY BURSTY

Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle must be pleased to know he is now, officially, “bursty.” This is Nielsen’s uber-pop term for those who are the biggest movers on the Nielsen Blogpulse - which measures how much someone is cited online. Mr. Daschle is No. 8 on the list, behind “zombie flick screenwriter” Mark Protosevich and 7-foot-tall University of North Carolina basketball forward Tyler Zeller.

Mr. Daschle was chosen Health and Human Services secretary in the Obama Cabinet.

REALITY CHECK

A conservative black leadership network has denounced a racial slur made against President-elect Barack Obama by al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

“While no fan of Barack Obama, I am a proud American. I find this terrorist’s remarks directed at our nation’s incoming leader to be highly offensive,” said Mychal Massie, director of Project 21, a nonprofit group sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Al-Zawahri called Mr. Obama a “house negro” on Wednesday.

There are larger lessons at stake, Mr. Massie said.

“Liberals fail to grasp the reality that Muslim extremists such as al-Zawahri hate them just as much as they hate the rest of America. At the very least, his crazed diatribe should prove this very point. I hope it jolts the incoming administration into reality. Being president isn’t like playing senator or being a community organizer - it is about protecting the American people,” Mr. Massie said.

ACT 1

Pollsters at Predictor Mobile recently revealed that 75 percent of us seriously think that Beyonce will sing at the inauguration.

The events are still a work in progress, perhaps.

“The Illinois ball for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration might be Washington D.C.’s hottest ticket, but the event’s headliners aren’t exactly Kanye, The Boss or any of those A-list entertainers who’ve endorsed Obama,” notes the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“In fact, wedding singers, corporate-events crooners and bar mitzvah bands make up the list of the musicians scheduled to perform at the Illinois State Society’s Jan. 19 inaugural gala,” according to the paper.

Planners are “still hoping to hire a handful more professional acts, who will also be joined by two high school choirs” at the event - which has a $1 million budget and will be staged at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.

MONEY SHOT

“Augustthermopylae,” a blogger with Reason magazine, has another notion for President-elect Barack Obama to consider.

“I would like to believe that a Ron Paul Treasury department would not only tell the President he had no clothes, but how to get clothes for the best price and how long it would take to pay them off,” the blogger notes.

“Talking about having your cake and eating it too: Obama would be able to use the terms ‘uniter’ without becoming a caricature while lobbing a grenade into the middle of the RNC.”

MONEY SHOT 2

Americans are more interested in the economy than the transition, according to the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index released Thursday. The survey found that 56 percent say the economy is the story they follow very closely, compared to 32 percent who cited the “Obama transition.”

Coverage is proving annoying: half of the respondents said economic news made them angry, while 43 percent were scared, 37 percent were confused and 35 percent depressed.

Forty-three percent of Americans say that a government bailout of financial institutions is the “wrong thing to do.” The figure is 32 percent among Democrats and 53 percent among Republicans.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Nov. 14-17 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

• Contact Jennifer Harper at Jennifer Harper or 202/636-3085.

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