- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2009

FEAR, TREMBLING

“Last week, we discovered that the state of California will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” Kevin Hassett writes at www.bloomberg.com, borrowing a line from the Wimpy character in the Popeye cartoons.

“With California mired in a budget crisis, largely the result of a political impasse that makes spending cuts and tax increases impossible, Controller John Chiang said the state planned to issue $3.3 billion in IOUs in July alone. Instead of cash, those who do business with California will get slips of paper.

“The California morass has Democrats in Washington trembling. The reason is simple. If [President] Obama’s health care plan passes, then we may well end up paying for it with federal slips of paper worth less than Californias. Obama has bet everything on passing health care this year. The publicity surrounding the California debt fiasco almost assures his resounding defeat,” said Mr. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

“It takes years and years to make a mess as terrible as the California debacle, but the recipe is simple. All that you need is two political parties that are always willing to offer easy government solutions for every need of the voters, but never willing to make the tough decisions necessary to finance the government largess that results. Voters will occasionally change their allegiance from one party to the other, but the bacchanal will continue regardless of the names on the office doors.

“California has engaged in an orgy of spending, but, compared with our federal government, its legislators should feel chaste. The California deficit this year is now north of $26 billion. The U.S. federal deficit will be, according to the latest numbers, almost 70 times larger.

“The federal picture is so bleak because the Obama administration is the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the U.S. I would imagine that he would be the intergalactic champion as well, if we could gather the data on deficits on other worlds.”

PALIN’S AMBITION

“According to the Census Bureau, there were about 160 million people in the United States who were at least 35 years old last year,” Jay Cost writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“My rough count of declared presidential candidates in 2008 sits between 150 and 200. Factoring out the foreign born, and dividing the latter by the former, we can say that about 99.9999 percent of those constitutionally eligible for the presidency did not seek the job. Additionally, 95 percent of all sitting senators, 98 percent of all sitting governors, and 99 percent of all sitting representatives did not seek the presidency last year,” Mr. Cost said.

“I didn’t calculate the numbers on former senators, governors, and representatives - but I am sure they would be even larger. From this, we can reasonably infer that most people don’t want to be president. It’s the life ambition for some - but not for most of us.

“I mention this because in all the analyses of Sarah Palin’s decision to resign from the governorship of Alaska - it’s often been overlooked that maybe she is one of these people.”

Mr. Cost added: “It’s hard to blame her for doing what she did on Friday, although many critics still managed. If I were in her shoes, having been asked by my party’s nominee to accept the vice-presidential nomination, then having been put through the wringer the way she and her family have, I wouldn’t want to run for the presidency. I wouldn’t want to run for re-election as governor. And I too would be inclined to resign altogether. One difference between her and me: I would not have been as gracious as she was last Friday.”

PROBABLY NEVER

“Forget about Sarah Palin as the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and probably ever,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“She may have no interest in seeking the GOP nomination. But if she does, her chances of winning the nomination have been minimized by her decision to resign as governor of Alaska. She’s knocked out one of three legs of the presidential stool and a second one is wobbly,” Mr. Barnes said.

“I say this reluctantly because Palin, in my view, is the most exciting Republican figure to emerge in decades. She mesmerizes crowds in a way that no other Republican leader can come close to matching. She has what can’t be taught - real charisma.

“But personal magnetism is only one of the legs, or underpinnings, for a successful race for the Republican nomination. The other two are experience in office and enough knowledge of foreign and domestic issues to talk about them persuasively. By stepping down, she’s cut her experience short: It now consists of a meager [2[1/2]] years as governor of a thinly populated state. And, from all appearances, Palin has made little headway on the issue track.”

Mr. Barnes added: “By itself, two months on the Republican ticket won’t propel her to the presidential nomination. But there is a way: Win Alaska’s lone House seat in 2012 and oust Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in 2014. A term in the House and another in the Senate - nothing would do more to groom her for the White House than this and transform her into the best Republican candidate for the presidency in, say, 2020, when she’d be 56.”

RUTGERS RALLY

President Obama next week will join New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine for a rally at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Mr. Corzine faces a tough re-election bid this fall, when just two states (New Jersey and Virginia) hold gubernatorial elections.

The endorsement is likely to give the governor a boost, though Mr. Corzine had been a fervent supporter of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary, Christina Bellantoni writes on her blog at WashingtonTimes.com

Mr. Corzine blogged in a note to supporters that he considers the president “a close friend” and partner:

Vice President [Joseph R.] Biden [Jr.] was already here and got our campaign started with a bang. On July 16th, President Barack Obama will join me at Rutgers University in New Brunswick to help to kick our campaign into a whole new gear. … After eight long years, we finally have a partner in Washington who shares our values and vision for a more progressive New Jersey. But we still have more to do, and with a partner in Washington who shares our values and priorities, I’m confident in what we can accomplish in the next four years.”

Virginia Democrats say a presidential campaign trip for state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, is likely to come soon.

Last week when Mr. Obama was in Northern Virginia for a health care town hall meeting, Mr. Deeds was campaigning in Williamsburg.

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

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