- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2008

Riding the tide

“The McCain convention bump seems to be subsiding, and the tracking polls suggest the national race is back almost dead even,” Richard Baehr writes in the American Thinker.

“Part of the recent movement may well be attributable to the financial crisis gripping Wall Street, and the fact that for not the first time, a sensible McCain statement on the economy is being distorted by Obama and his many media flacks as evidence that the Arizona senator is out of touch,” Mr. Baehr said.

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong, as McCain argued: 94 percent of workers are employed, inflation last month was 0.1 percent (the big drop in oil prices of over $55 a barrel helps, saving consumers between $20 and $30 billion each month), and GDP grew by over 3 percent last quarter. When Franklin Roosevelt took office and said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, he was applauded for his statesmanship and leadership.

“A leader in a time of crisis tries to settle the ship and restore confidence. That is what John McCain is doing, but he gets no points for it. You are supposed to walk among the unemployed, and show that you share their pain, and charge that their problems are caused by George Bush, or this year, Bush-McCain. That is what Barack Obama does, and for this, he gets the attention and approval of the punditry hacks or giants (pick one) like Joe Klein and Frank Rich.

“In terms of political momentum, when the topic being debated is national security or social issues and values, McCain benefits. When the topic is a souring economy or financial crisis, Obama wins. So this week, it is Obama’s week to ride with the tide.”

Borrowed lines

“Lost amid last week’s controversy over whether Barack Obama had insulted Sarah Palin with his ‘lipstick on a pig’ reference was his inspiration for the dig. Once again the issue was whether he was borrowing material without citation,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“What landed Mr. Obama in hot water was this statement: ‘John McCain says he’s about change, too — except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. That’s just calling the same thing something different. You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change; it’s still going to stink after eight years.’

“The McCain campaign shamelessly claimed that because Ms. Palin had used a lipstick reference in her acceptance speech at the GOP convention, Mr. Obama was issuing a porcine insult of her. That was a stretch. A better riposte might have been to note that Mr. Obama seemed to be channeling a hard-left newspaper cartoonist named Tom Toles,” Mr. Fund said, referring to the editorial cartoonist of The Washington Post.

“Only four days earlier, Mr. Toles drew a picture of Mr. McCain and his running mate standing outside the White House. The punch line: ‘Watch out, Mr. Bush! With the exception of economic policy and energy policy and social issues and tax policy and foreign policy and Supreme Court appointments and Rove-style politics, we’re coming in there to shake things up!’

“Mr. Obama has had previous problems with appropriating the words of others — such as channeling a speech on civil rights previously delivered by Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader even proposed a McCain TV ad showing Mr. Obama making his ‘change’ argument against the background of the Toles cartoon. An announcer would quizzically ask: ‘Change? Or the same thing?’ Then Mr. McCain would say: ‘I’m John McCain and I approve this message.’ “Such an ad, puncturing the media myth of Mr. Obama’s vaunted eloquence, might have been devastating.”

Gang trouble

“House Democrats passed an energy bill Tuesday night, creating a potentially embarrassing situation for the Republican senators who joined the Gang of 20, Stephen Spruiell writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“On paper at least, the House bill opens more offshore areas to oil and gas drilling than the gang’s proposal does. That puts the Republicans who joined the gang to the left of Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times, and the Sierra Club on drilling,” Mr. Spruiell said.

“Pelosi’s bill would allow oil and gas drilling in all coastal waters more than 50 miles offshore. Make no mistake: It’s still a sham energy bill, designed to give the Democrats political cover on drilling while keeping most of America’s offshore reserves locked up. Over 95 percent of the oil and gas off the Pacific coast lies within the 50-mile buffer zone that Pelosi’s bill would create.

“But the Gang of 20’s proposal offers even less. It would set up the same 50-mile buffer, but only four states — Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas — would have the option of approving new oil and gas leases. The gang’s proposal would reduce the current 125-mile buffer in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to 50 miles, but that isn’t enough to allow producers to develop the Destin Dome, an enormous natural-gas field that lies 25 miles off the coast. Florida’s Atlantic coast and the Pacific would remain entirely off-limits.”

Biden’s earmark

“Taxpayers for Common Sense is out with an analysis of earmark requests in the 2009 Defense Authorization bill,” reporter Christina Bellantoni writes in a blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“Both presidential nominees stuck to their pledge not to ask for any, but VP nominee Sen. Joe Biden has an $11.6 million earmark to ‘Replace C-130 Aircraft Maintenance Shops’ at the New Castle County Airport. The co-sponsor is his fellow Delaware Democrat, Tom Carper,” Ms. Bellantoni said.

“Also worth noting — Top McCain supporters Joe Lieberman (I) and Lindsey Graham (R) have a bunch.

“Lieberman requested $35 million for ‘Technology development for F135 engine’ for beneficiary Pratt and Whitney.

“(The company’s current CEO gave Lieberman $2,000 in 2004 and also contributed to his 2006 Senate re-election campaign when he was booted from the Democratic Party, but won his seat as an independent.)

“Graham has $20 million in solo requests, including a $9.9 million earmark for a ‘Physical Fitness Center’ at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.

“Would McCain veto those if he were president?

“The McCain campaign did not respond to the question Wednesday afternoon.”

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

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