- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

OBAMA’S BET

”With a speech to match the most eloquent of State of the Union Addresses, with strains of FDR and JFK and a touch of Winston Churchill thrown in, President Obama has clearly staked his presidency on the outcome of the economic crisis,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

”Whether or not you agree with his prescription for recovery (I don’t), it’s clear that he’s not hedging his bets. If it works, his place in history is assured. If it fails, so is his early retirement,” Mr. Morris said.

“The speech made it apparent that the Obama administration’s response to this crisis will either go down in history as a success that Americans will admire for decades, or become a case study in economic failure that students and scholars will study and pick apart for generations.”

CHILDISH THINGS

”Put away childish things, President Obama said during his inauguration. He couldn’t have found a theme more suited to the moment. The preoccupations that he and most politicians are used to running on, and that still characterize too many of his administration’s utterances, are being exposed in the global economic disaster as the soppy indulgences they always were,” Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes.

”Put away the global warming panic. Mankind’s contribution to rising CO2 levels raises serious questions, but the tens of billions poured into climate science have, by now, added up only to a negative finding. We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere’s component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“In any case, has Mr. Obama taken a gander at collapsing industrial production numbers around the world? He’s going to get a big reduction in CO2 output whether he wants it or not. Nor will the public be moved to make costly, material changes in its energy habits, especially if the recent global cooling trend continues. What we’ll get instead is already depressingly clear: climate pork, or lucrative favors for lobbying interests in the name of global warming that have no impact on global warming.

“Put away the ‘energy independence’ conceit. This notion, a favorite of Tojo and Hitler, was debunked by Churchill, who reasoned that true energy security came from a diversity of suppliers, not the foolish pursuit of self-sufficiency.

“We only hurt our own cause by blocking development of our own resources and closing our markets to biofuel producers in the Southern Hemisphere. Let’s grow up. Through all the ups and downs of oil prices, the U.S. has been able to buy all it wants, even from countries that wish us dead. We are a bigger buyer of oil than any country is a supplier of it. We’ve had the whip hand all along.”

EMBARRASSING

”I don’t know what nation the attorney general is living in, but it’s not the one I know,” Abigail Thernstrom writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

”Eric Holder’s speech to Justice Department staff on February 18 was scandalously uninformed, as well as arrogant and incoherent. It should be an embarrassment to the president,” said Mrs. Thernstrom, co-author with Stephan Thernstrom of “America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible,” an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

“Given the already splendid commentary on this speech by Jonah Goldberg and others, I had intended to hold my tongue. But after reading the attorney general’s remarks in full, I changed my mind. ‘A nation of cowards’ - those attention-grabbing words have been much remarked upon. In fact, the rest of the speech is even more disturbing than that mud-slinging phrase.

“Take the charge that ‘outside the workplace’ the racial scene is ‘bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago.’

“A little fact-checking is in order. Saturdays and Sundays looked quite different even less than 50 years ago. In 1964 only 18 percent of whites said they had black friends; the figure today is 87 percent. Raise the bar to ‘a fairly close personal friend’ and the proportion jumps from a mere 9 percent in 1975 to 75 percent in 2005. The share of blacks with close white friends has soared from 21 percent to 82 percent over that same period.”

TRUE BELIEVERS

”Why, since President Obama promised to ‘restore science to its rightful place’ in Washington, do some things feel not quite right?” John Tierney writes in the Science section of the New York Times.

”First there was Steven Chu, the physicist and new energy secretary, warning The Los Angeles Times that climate change could make water so scarce by century’s end that ‘there’s no more agriculture in California’ and no way to keep the state’s cities going, either.

“Then there was the hearing in the Senate to confirm another physicist, John Holdren, to be the president’s science adviser. Dr. Holdren was asked about some of his gloomy neo-Malthusian warnings in the past, like his calculation in the 1980s that famines due to climate change could leave a billion people dead by 2020. Did he still believe that?

“ ‘I think it is unlikely to happen,’ Dr. Holdren told the senators, but he insisted that it was still ‘a possibility’ that ‘we should work energetically to avoid.’

“Well, I suppose it never hurts to go on the record in opposition to a billion imaginary deaths. But I have a more immediate concern: Will Mr. Obama’s scientific counselors give him realistic plans for dealing with global warming and other threats? To borrow a term fromRoger Pielke Jr.: Can these scientists be honest brokers?”

STRIKING OMISSION

”What was perhaps most striking in the speech is what it ignored: national security,” Peter Wehner writes at www.commentarymagazine.com, referring to President Obama’s address to Congress.

”It is kind of extraordinary, really: last week President Obama ordered an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, yet there was no effort in [Tuesday] night’s speech to put this decision in any larger context. The same is true of Iraq; almost nothing was said about it. It was almost as if America was not at war and militant Islam has evaporated as a threat. It hasn’t, of course.

”We can only hope that Obama’s lack of rhetorical interest on national security affairs doesn’t reflect a governing indifference to it. If it does, there are grounds to be quite alarmed. Obama is the only commander-in-chief we have; he cannot simply continue to pretend that part of his job description is an after-thought.”

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

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