- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NEXT VILLAIN

“Having undergone training by students of Saul Alinsky, President Obama knows the value of a good enemy,” John J. Pitney Jr. writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“By stirring up fear and hatred toward a key figure on the other side of the battlefield, Alinsky taught, organizers can fill their war chests and rally their troops. In the 1990s, the Democrats´ designated demon was Newt Gingrich. For the past several years, they counted on President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

“Now that Bush and Cheney are out of power, who is next?”

The most likely choice, now that Democrats have given up on Rush Limbaugh, is Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Mr. Pitney said.

“In many ways, Roberts is the perfect enemy for the Democrats. He´s a conservative white male who owes his appointment to the hated President Bush. One of his core principles is that the judiciary should make decisions on a purely legal basis instead of a policy basis. President Obama thinks that judges should be champions of the powerless, regardless of the law. … Even better, Roberts could not defend himself, since justices are severely constrained in their public statements. …

“If the chief justice wants to know what he might be facing soon, he should take a break from the law books and thumb through the works of Saul Alinsky.”

BLUNT TALK

“What’s good for General Motors really is good for America after all. And vice versa,” Paul Ingrassia writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“That’s the best way to read the sad but necessary - in fact, long overdue - departure of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner Sunday, at the behest of President Barack Obama’s Automotive Task Force. Give the Obama team credit, too, for replacing most of GM’s pet-rock board of directors, which put loyalty to Mr. Wagoner above duty to shareholders while the company imploded,” said Mr. Ingrassia, a former Dow Jones executive and Detroit bureau chief for the Journal, whose book “Crash Course,” about the auto industry’s current crisis, will be published by Random House in January.

“These steps add serious credibility to the task force’s effort to force fundamental changes at GM and Chrysler, the two car companies getting federal aid. Chrysler was given 30 days to form an alliance with another car company, most likely Fiat. The task force concluded, correctly, that Chrysler can’t survive as an independent company. GM has 60 days to offer a realistic survival plan with new concessions from bondholders and the United Auto Workers union.

“Sound familiar? That’s basically what the Bush administration told GM last December, before the Bushies bypassed Congress and doled out the first $13 billion. By extending the deadline yesterday, the task force risked coming across like a hapless parent saying to the misbehaving children, ‘Kids, this time I really mean it.’ But dumping the board and Mr. Wagoner - just two weeks after the executive insisted his job was secure - changes the game, as does the president’s blunt talk [Monday]. Mr. Obama raised the possibility of ‘using our bankruptcy code to help them restructure and emerge stronger.’

“I’ll have to confess initial skepticism about the president’s Automotive Task Force, but so far I’m impressed.” Business executives are supposed to be hard-nosed realists, but we heard more realism from Mr. Obama [Monday] than we’ve heard from Detroit in years.”

TARGETING MICHIGAN

Heavily Democratic Michigan is one of the Republican Party’s chief targets in its campaign to make gains in next year’s gubernatorial elections and rebuild the party.

After six years of liberal Democratic rule under Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, whose popularity is in a nose dive, the state’s voters appear ready for a change. Polls show Lt. Gov. John Cherry, the presumed Democratic nominee to succeed her, losing to all three Republican contenders.

With unemployment at 11.6 percent, the country’s highest, Michigan lost 46,000 residents in the past year and the state is a prime testing ground for the Republican Party’s strategy to win back statehouses it lost to the Democrats in the last two elections.

Democrats are hoping President Obama’s stimulus program will pump enough money into the state to turn the economy around before the 2010 elections. “Unemployment benefits are going up, road money’s flowing into the state, contracts are under way, and people are about to see their tax withholding going down,” Democratic state chairman Mark Brewer told reporter Donald Lambro of The Washington Times.

But Republican state Chairman Ron Weiser is doubtful about the stimulus’ impact. “The money may be here, but I don’t see anybody being put to work yet,” he told The Times.

“We’re in a much deeper trough here, and people don’t know how the stimulus is going to affect Michigan. Under Governor Granholm last year, we had a massive tax increase right in the middle of the recession. That’s not the answer to an economy that’s falling down. Now she is proposing a graduated income tax,” he said.

“Some people may be employed by building a new road, but that’s not going to change the long-term, structural problems here,” Mr. Weiser said.

VISCERAL REACTION

“Ironically, liberals in their moment of triumph may be exposed as never before while conservatives at their low ebb electorally have, to a large degree, not been as energized since the 1980 election,” Jennifer Rubin writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine.com.

“Since their electoral thumping in November, conservatives have had many internal arguments and debates, some of which go to substance and others, to tactics. But as we make our way through the First 100 Days, there is remarkable cohesion around the notion of ‘not Obamaism.’ (We´re not supposed to call it socialism.) That is not to say, opposition to him personally, but to the dizzying policies he is pursuing. The glimpse of statism is alarming to those who value individual liberty and free markets. And in some sense, the actions we are witnessing go beyond conservatives´ worst fears. …

“To say there has been a visceral reaction against the enormous acquisition of government authority would be a vast understatement. Suddenly conservatives are forced to articulate why market capitalism is preferable to state-directed economies. They have been, by circumstances, driven to explain the benefits of decentralized decision-making and the connection between markets and personal liberty. …

“Had Obama chosen a moderate, centrist course, I rather doubt such a robust conservative discussion would be raging.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide