- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

NO EXCUSES

“Now that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has all but handed Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate, we can finally put aside those increasingly annoying stories speculating about who is ‘leading’ the Republican Party and what ‘state’ the GOP finds itself in,” Vaughn Ververs writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Those questions are largely pointless from a practical standpoint, as is the GOP’s political power in Washington at the moment,” Mr. Ververs said.

“That doesn’t mean it is all good news for Democrats.

“Over the past five months, political watchers, pundits and the Washington press corps have been sidetracked from time to time by the drama that is the GOP’s apparent implosion. Were party leaders taking their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh on the stimulus bill and everything else? Would the GOP find itself marginalized by Southern conservatives or broaden the tent, as RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggested, to constituencies as diverse as ‘urban-suburban hip-hop settings’ and ‘one-armed midgets’?

“The more pertinent question was rarely, if ever, asked - why should anyone really care? …

“Now Specter has apparently given Democrats the magical number 60 in the Senate to add to their 40-seat majority in the House. A popular president with an ambitious agenda now should have the legislative muscle to carry it through Congress.

“That’s where the bad news comes in for the ruling party. The dirty little not-so-secret surrounding the administration’s plans has always been that a handful of Democrats were much more of a threat to its agenda than any Republican opposition. …

“This is the Democrats’ show now in totality. To paraphrase Colin Powell, if they break it, they will own it.”

SEEDS OF WEEDS

“When the Obama administration crashes and burns, with approval ratings that fall through the floor, political scientists can trace its demise to its first hundred days,” Dick Morris writes in the Hill newspaper.

“While Americans are careful not to consign a presidency they desperately need to succeed to the dustbin of history, the fact is that this president has moved - on issue after issue - in precisely the opposite direction of what the people want him to do,” Mr. Morris said.

“Right now, Obama’s ratings must be pleasing to his eye. Voters like him and his wife immensely and approve of his activism in the face of the economic crisis. While polls show big doubts about what he is doing, the overwhelming sense is to let him have his way and pray that it works.

“But beneath this superficial support, Obama’s specific policies run afoul of the very deeply felt convictions of American voters. For example, the most recent Rasmussen Poll asked voters if they wanted an economic system of complete free enterprise or preferred more government involvement in managing the economy. By 77-19, they voted against a government role, up seven points from last month.

“So if voters differ so fundamentally with the president on the very essence of his program, why do they accord him high ratings? They are like the recently married bride who took her vows 100 days ago. It would be a disaster for her life if she decides that she really doesn’t like her husband. But she keeps noticing things about him that she can’t stand. It will be a while before she walks out the door or even comes to terms with her own doubts, but it is probably inevitable that she will.”

THE LIVING DEAD

“GM’s new proposal, clearly produced under government duress, is worse than virtually any of the alternatives,” former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney writes in a blog at National Review Online (www.national review.com).

“It would give GM to the UAW and the U.S. government and make taxpayers pick up the bills. Of course, billions more from government would be drawn down right away. But the UAW could also depend on the Obama administration to keep up the subsidy for years and years to come. Government and union co-ownership: It would be as ineffective as it is un-American,” Mr. Romney said.

“The right course for GM is an out-of-court restructuring or bankruptcy. Either would keep the company in business and rid it of burdensome costs, work rules and obligations. The government could backstop the post-restructuring debt, helping the company get on its feet. GM must not fail: If its costs are brought in line with its competition, it can ultimately thrive and grow jobs. What is proposed is even worse than bankruptcy - it would make GM the living dead.”

CARVILLE’S BOOK

“In a forthcoming book, top Hillary supporter James Carville reveals that Bill Clinton was privately shocked and infuriated by the Hillary campaign’s awful financial mismanagement, and he serves up scorching criticism of the campaign, singling out polling guru Mark Penn for ‘suffering fatal confusion’ about delegate strategy,” Greg Sargent writes in the Plum Line blog at whorunsgov.com.

“The criticism from Carville, who’s been close to the Clintons for many years, is surprisingly sharp for the normally tight-knit Clinton inner circle. Carville didn’t have a formal campaign role, but he had access to the campaign, and offers up a glimpse of what he saw,” Mr. Sargent said.

“I obtained an advance excerpt of the book, which is called ‘40 More Years,’ and is about the emerging Dem majority, and here are a few choice tidbits:

• “Just before the Iowa caucuses, Bill Clinton was privately informed by Hillary campaign chair Terry McAuliffe that the campaign only had enough money to buy TV ads for two more states - New Hampshire and South Carolina. Carville, who was there, relates that Bill had an ‘unprintable reaction’ and went into a ‘panic,’ calling other high-level campaign officials, who told him that this was indeed the case. …

• “Mark Penn, Carville says, was a key factor in Hillary’s defeat, because he ‘suffered fatal confusion on the subject of delegates.’ Carville hits Penn for reportedly not understanding that California was not a winner-take-all state, so his strategy hinged too heavily on winning it. Carville terms this a ‘spectacular error.’ …

“The book, which was co-authored by writer and political operative Rebecca Buckwalter Poza, is due out in mid-May, and is likely to spark another round of public finger-pointing about the dramatic and historic, but flawed, Hillary campaign.”

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

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