- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

CHOREOGRAPHY

Barack Obama found it ‘exciting,’ and Hillary Clinton saw it as ‘a positive sign.’ Others, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former U.S. national security adviser, went further and praised it as a ‘vibrant democracy.’ A variety of useful idiots at home and abroad expressed similar illusions about the Iranian presidential election on Friday,” Amir Taheri writes in the London Times.

“Many had hoped the exercise would dislodge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the maverick who has vowed to chase the United States out of the Middle East, wipe Israel off the map and prepare the ground for the hidden imam, Shiite Islams ‘end of times’ figure of retribution. In the event, the election turned out to be a choreographed affair designed to reinforce Ahmadinejads position as the leader of ‘resurgent Islam,’ ” said Mr. Taheri, an Iranian journalist.

“Officially put at 85 percent, voter turnout was the highest in Iran’s history. Ahmadinejad won with 63 percent, collecting more votes than any of his predecessors. The results were arranged to give him a two-thirds majority among all categories of voters - men, women, young and old, poor and middle class, and in all of Irans 30 provinces. Whoever wrote the script also made sure that his three rivals, all veterans of the Khomeinist revolution, were roundly defeated even in their respective hometowns.

Only one candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister, has tried to contest the results. Some analysts had tipped Mousavi, a cousin of the ‘supreme guide’ Ali Khamenei, as the likely winner and the ideal partner for President Obama in his quest for unconditional talks with Iran. By midday Saturday, it was clear that Mousavi would not try to rock the boat. Rather than calling his supporters into the streets, he wrote a letter to his cousin, pleading for ‘action to avoid injustice.’ Ahmadinejad’s camp responded by announcing a rally in Tehran [Sunday] to celebrate his victory.”

STRONG CANDIDATE

“Nothing comes easy for the GOP these days,” Fred Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“For months, Republican Robert McDonnell was the clear favorite to be elected governor of Virginia this fall. And for nearly as long, his Democratic opponent seemed likely to be Terry McAuliffe - a former Democratic national chairman, close pal of Bill Clinton, native New Yorker, and grating personality. None of those things are assets in the Old Dominion,” Mr. Barnes said.

“But on Tuesday, the GOP’s confidence evaporated. In a rout, Democratic primary voters rejected Mr. McAuliffe and nominated a rural state senator, Creigh Deeds, who has the potential to win over Republican voters.

“Many Democrats had resigned themselves to losing the governorship this year, but now they ‘are coming out of the primary in better shape than they ever expected,’ says Democratic pollster Tom Jensen. Mr. Deeds will soon be riding a wave of favorable publicity that could put him even or slightly ahead of Mr. McDonnell, who resigned as the state’s attorney general earlier this year to run for governor. A GOP strategist who didn’t want to be named put it this way: ‘The press loves his story.’

“Nonetheless, in Mr. McDonnell, Republicans have a strong candidate. He beat Mr. Deeds by 323 votes in the election for attorney general in 2005. It was a race that ‘Deeds should have won,’ says Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. ‘There was a tide against Republicans.’ ”

HIDDEN TALENT

“Don’t be hard on GM’s new chairman, Edward Whitacre, for confessing during an interview last week that he knows nothing about cars,” Jim McTague writes in Barron’s.

“He simply suffered a Joe Biden moment. Texans often tumble over their tongues when taking a stab at humility. In fact, few car companies, let alone their CEOs, know how to build cars, which is why so many of them are conking out. The Obama administration, in my view, picked Whitacre to run General Motors because he has a more important talent: He knows how to play Chicago-style politics,” Mr. McTague said.

“Whitacre predominantly donates money to GOP causes, but he is no party purist. While serving as chairman and chief executive of SBC, the regional Bell that grew under his leadership into AT&T, Whitacre helped a couple of influential Chicago Democrats - both friends of President Barack Obama - enrich themselves between political gigs. He gave former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley a very sweet job and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel a very sweet investment-banking opportunity.”

Mr. McTague added: “We will be watching closely to see which of the current crop of Washington bigwigs end up working for Whitacre at GM.”

FREE HEALTH CARE

“It’s been 15 years since President Clinton’s health care reform plan went down to defeat, and the problems it was supposed to fix have only gotten worse. Costs have soared, the number of uninsured has risen and public dissatisfaction has mounted,” Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman writes.

“But now, at last, we are all ready to do what must be done. As President Obama puts it, ‘I really think that the stars may be aligned here.’

“Don’t bet on it. The Clinton plan lost partly because Americans were not willing to accept that you can’t have it all. From everything that has occurred since then, it’s apparent they are still unwilling,” Mr. Chapman said.

“The Obama administration understands this crucial point, which is why it has undertaken to assure us that everything we like about the current health insurance system will stay the same, while everything we don’t like will be replaced. And, we are led to believe, it won’t cost you and me anything.

“Estimates of the cost of Obama care start at $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The administration believes it can cover about half that amount through tax increases on the rich and greater efficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid. But it’s hard to find anyone else who shares that touching faith. When I asked Robert Bixby, head of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan fiscal watchdog group, he said, ‘I don’t see any plausible way of getting the savings they need to add the expanded coverage in a deficit-neutral way.’

“There are only three ways to pay for this expansion of health insurance coverage: increased taxes, reduced benefits or shiny gold ingots falling out of the sky. Voters emphatically prefer the latter option, so that is the one most likely to be embraced by Congress and the administration.”

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

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