- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

STUMP SPEECH

“Last Friday the White House argued that Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s ‘word choice in 2001 was poor’ when she said, ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.’ [Thursday], it undermined its case,” John Dickerson writes at www.slate.com.

“An administration aide pointed out that in addition to the 2001 speech, in a 1994 speech Sotomayor used nearly identical language: ‘I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion. What is better? I … hope that better will mean a more compassionate and caring conclusion.’

“The White House view is that the similarity proves Republicans are being inconsistent. The 1994 speech was included in materials related to Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Second Circuit court of Appeals in 1997, and no Republicans made a peep. Why are they objecting now, if not to delay the nomination on any pretext they can find?

“This is a small point for the White House to press when doing so exposes a bigger problem. Last week, the White House decided to defuse the debate over the 32-word dustup by saying that Sotomayor made a poor choice of words, specifically by using the word ‘better.’ Sotomayor, spokesman Robert Gibbs explained, was merely saying her life experiences influence her judging. The president himself reiterated this point in a television interview. But this new material undermines the White House’s argument,” Mr. Dickerson said.

“Sotomayor didn’t misspeak in 2001. She apparently just repeated her stump speech. The passages from the speeches, given seven years apart, are nearly identical. The only thing that’s different between the two speeches is that in 1994, Sotomayor believed that it was merely her gender that made her better - not her gender and her ethnicity, as she claimed in 2001.”

CLAIRVOYANT

“[Friday] will likely bring more bad news for President Barack Obama on the number one issue for voters - the economy. The Labor Department’s monthly job report will almost certainly show unemployment topping 9 percent, with a couple hundred thousand more jobs lost in May,” Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“It will get worse before jobs get better. Congressional Budget Director Douglas W. Elmendorf recently predicted that unemployment will continue rising into the second half of next year and peak above 10 percent,” said Mr. Rove, who was senior adviser to President George W. Bush.

“Mr. Obama has an ingenious approach to job losses: He describes them as job gains. For example, last week the president claimed that 150,000 jobs had been created or saved because of his stimulus package. He boasted, ‘And that’s just the beginning.’

“However, at the beginning of January, 134.3 million people were employed. At the start of May, 132.4 million Americans were working. How was Mr. Obama magically able to conjure this loss of 1.9 million jobs into an increase of 150,000 jobs?

“As my former White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto points out on his blog, the Labor Department does not and cannot collect data on ‘jobs saved.’ So the Obama administration is asking that we accept its ‘clairvoyant ability to estimate,’ and the White House press corps has let Mr. Obama’s ludicrous claim go virtually unchallenged.”

WARNING SIGNS

“As health care reform enters the phase of serious legislation, it becomes vital to understand what the American people expect and believe … and how the forthcoming debate is likely to affect their views,” the New Republic’s William Galston writes in a blog at tnr.com.

“Because no one has tracked these matters more carefully and professionally than the Kaiser Family Foundation, I reviewed a number of documents they’ve published during the past eight months and supplemented their findings with other credible sources. What I found suggests that little happened, during either the campaign or the first four months of the Obama administration, to educate the people about the real choices their elected representatives now face. …

“I take as my point of departure a survey Kaiser conducted in October of 2008, on the threshold of the presidential election. It shows that twice as many voters cared about making health care and health insurance more affordable as about expanding coverage for the uninsured, and that only one in 10 gave high priority to improving the quality of care and reducing medical errors. …

“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that in evaluating proposed health reform legislation, voters will be looking first and foremost at its impact on their own pocketbooks, with broader issues trailing well behind,” Mr. Galston said.

“I looked next at Kaiser’s first 2009 health care tracking survey, issued in February 2009. It found that while 59 percent of respondents thought that reform would make the country as a whole better off, only 38 percent believed that they and their families would benefit. …

“This brings me to the April tracking survey. It showed that respondents think reforming health care is only the fourth most important priority (on a list of eight), behind improving the economy, stabilizing Medicare and Social Security, and reducing the federal budget deficit.”

LOOKING AHEAD

“Let the 2012 political games begin,” Mark McKinnon writes at www.thedailybeast.com.

“Hell, they’ve already begun. Only 1,251 days to go until the first primary. Observe as some of the usual and not so usual suspects start firing up their engines,” said Mr. McKinnon, who was a political strategist for George W. Bush and John McCain.

“If you had any doubt, just look at the political news this week: Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces he is not going to seek re-election, Mitt Romney gives a foreign-policy speech at the Heritage Foundation and appears on the ‘Today’ show, Sen. John Ensign lectures in Iowa on ways to retool the Republican Party, and Newt Gingrich reels in his intemperate accusation that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a racist.

“And we have one of the first credible horse-race polls from CNN, which shows that of those candidates polled, we have a dead heat among Mike Huckabee (22 percent), Sarah Palin (21 percent), and Romney (21 percent). These three alone will probably raise the Iowa GDP by a point or two over the next few years.”

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

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