- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DETAINEE POLL

Despite President Obama’s ban on using harsh interrogation techniques on terrorists, a growing majority of Americans now say they think such practices are justified.

A Gallup Poll conducted Friday and Saturday found that based on what they know or read, 55 percent of Americans said they supported the harsh methods used under President Bush, while 36 percent said they were not justified. Among those who said they had followed the story very closely, 61 percent support such techniques versus 37 percent who did not.

The same poll showed that 51 percent favored opening an investigation into the use of such interrogation practices, compared with 42 percent who did not.

Gallup said that the “slim majority” favoring an investigation “is quite low because Americans are generally quite supportive of government probes into potential misconduct by public officials.”

“Support for an inquiry into the Bush-era interrogation policy may be relatively limited because a majority of Americans believe the use of the techniques for questioning terrorism suspects was justified,” Gallup said.

STRAW MEN

Political analyst Jay Cost writes at www.realclearpolitics.com that he has grown weary of President Obama’s straw-man arguments, in which Mr. Obama asserts that only someone with absurd views could possibly disagree with him.

“This is from the president’s remarks at the National Academy of Science: ‘At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science. That support for research is somehow a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been.’ ”

Mr. Cost responded: “Who the hell is saying we cannot afford to invest in science? Isn’t the real argument about whether we can spend so much more (fully 3 percent of GDP) on science, and revitalize the economy, and save the banks, and save the Big Three [automakers], and spend more on education, and reform health care, and revolutionize the energy sector all at the same time?

“I have heard ‘there are those who say …’ from this president quite a bit in the last three months. I think it’s time he start naming names. Who are these people who hold such backward-looking, unacceptable positions? If they are elected members of the government, shouldn’t the president tell us who they are so we can vote them out? If they are unelected, how is it they have such power?

“Or maybe there are no such people, at least not of such relevance they deserve specific mention by the president. Maybe this is just a rhetorical trick designed to make Mr. Obama’s position seem like the only one allowed by common sense.”

ANOTHER LOSER

“Republicans lost another Congressional race on Friday, as Democratic newcomer Scott Murphy was declared the victor by some 400 votes in the March 31 special House election in New York state. But you wouldn’t know it from the response of House Minority Leader John Boehner, who declared that GOP candidate Jim Tedisco ‘forced the Democratic Party to invest heavily and defend a seat they should have had in the bag,’ ” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“I-yi-yi.

“New York’s 20th Congressional district is precisely the kind the GOP will have to win if it wants to regain a majority. It is one of the few Northeast districts where Republicans retain a party registration advantage, and Republican John Sweeney had held it for four terms before Democrat (and recently appointed Senator) Kirsten Gillibrand won in 2006. George W. Bush carried it twice,” the newspaper said.

“Republicans lost because they fielded a poor candidate who ran a lousy campaign. While Mr. Murphy was a fresh face who could plausibly argue he’d assist President Obama’s call for change, Republicans picked an Albany careerist who personified more of the same. GOP powerbroker (and Al D’Amato pal) Joe Mondello rigged the nomination to deny a real contest, thus cutting out the likes of former state Assembly minority leader John Faso.

“At one point, Mr. Tedisco had a 20-point lead but squandered it by waffling on the Obama stimulus plan, running anti-Wall Street ads that confused the Republican base and waiting until the last few days to criticize pro-union ‘card check’ legislation. In other words, Mr. Tedisco betrayed that he wasn’t all that different than the other politicians who have made Albany the tax and spend center of America.

“The fact that the race was so close shows that, had Republicans run a credible candidate, they had a chance to send a message to Blue Dog Democrats in Congress that Mr. Obama’s agenda is less popular than he is. Mr. Boehner would do better to stop spinning defeat and start looking for candidates who believe in something beyond their own careers.”

THE GOP’S FATE

“The Republican Party is dead. Haven’t you heard?” Troy Senik writes at www. realclearpolitics.com.

“Despite winning seven of the past 11 presidential elections and controlling at least one house of Congress for 13 of the past 15 years, our salad days are over. The ascendancy of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama has shipwrecked the GOP in perpetuity. Those of us who fought the good fight will now have to go back to country clubbing, Bible thumping and war mongering in the private sector. To add insult to injury, we’re the only major institution that has failed in the last year without receiving a generous taxpayer bailout,” said Mr. Senik, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

“Such is the psychology of the party of Lincoln in the early days of 2009. It is a coalition humiliated by defeat, insecure in its principles, and fearful of a new president who may prove to have Ronald Reagan’s gifts for charming his way into the support of people with whom he is ideologically incompatible.

“This hyperventilation - though characteristically American - is both overstated and premature. The GOP has had its fair share of false death knells over the past half-century - and each time it has quickly come roaring back.”

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

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