- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

FAMILIAR FEELING

“Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, ‘Do you think they know what they’re doing?’ ” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“The question caught me off-guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“Yes, it’s early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It’s a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House. …

“Which brings us to the heart of the matter: the doubts about Obama himself. His famous eloquence is wearing thin through daily exposure and because his actions are often disconnected from his words. His lack of administrative experience is showing.

“His promises and policies contradict each other often enough that evidence of hypocrisy is ceasing to be news. Remember the pledges about bipartisanship and high ethics? They’re so last year.”

LEAHY’S MOTIVES

“When the most partisan, most left-wing Democrat in the U.S. Senate says he wants to investigate his political adversaries ‘in a manner removed from partisan politics,’ he’s being disingenuous. Even more disingenuous is calling the exercise a ‘truth commission.’ But that’s Patrick Leahy for you,” Andrew C. McCarthy writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The Judiciary Committee chairman has not had much to say about the Obama administration’s decision to release Binyam Mohammed, the al Qaeda jihadist who was planning to carry out mass-murder attacks in American cities, who is now free and clear to live and plot in Londonistan. Leahy did, however, make time [recently] to conduct a hearing on his banana-republic scheme for a ‘non-partisan’ - also non-elected, non-accountable - sideshow that would conduct an inquisition into the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. His model, he has explained, is South Africa’s ‘truth and reconciliation commission.’

“Let’s roll that around the brain, shall we? Leahy refers to the post-apartheid retrospective conducted by a committee of human-rights activists on behalf of a newly reborn country that had endured years of de facto civil war stemming from systematic racism. South Africans had suffered three decades of torture, maiming and assassinations, both from the regime’s secret police and from the terrorist insurgency of the African National Congress,” Mr. McCarthy noted.

“By contrast, about six years ago, while operating in foreign countries, the CIA waterboarded three alien terrorists who had choreographed attacks that killed thousands of Americans and who had been trained to resist conventional interrogation techniques. These terrorists were sufficiently high-ranking to have information about ongoing plots to commit further atrocities - which is why, when informed about the enhanced interrogation practices, top lawmakers from both parties, including Nancy Pelosi, admonished the agency to make sure they were being tough enough in seeking new intelligence from the prisoners.

“So much for Senator Leahy’s analogy. It’s difficult to see how the American and South African situations could be more dissimilar.

“What we actually have here is a brass-knuckles partisan whose interest is neither reconciliation nor truth. Leahy wants a scorched-earth attack on his political adversaries, but he doesn’t want his fingerprints on the match. A commission would do the trick. Its unacknowledged mandate would be to smear Bush officials as war criminals and to lay the groundwork for their indictment by foreign tribunals.”

GOP PROSPECTS

“The first two months of the Age of Obama haven’t turned out quite the way [chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel and [President] Obama’s legions hoped and expected,” William Kristol writes in the Weekly Standard.

“The early momentum is flagging. The effort to rush through big-government liberal policies, as somehow part of a response to a financial crisis he’s not actually addressing effectively, may backfire. Several of his nominations and appointments have had to be withdrawn, and others should have been,” Mr. Kristol said.

“Meanwhile, the GOP recovery program is going pretty well. Republicans have progressed from shell-shocked timidity through small-bore sniping and onto robust (and responsible) opposition. The GOP has shown itself able to stand up and counter Obama’s arguments. The Bush hangover seems to be proving less burdensome than expected, and some of the GOP’s members of Congress are turning out to be more presentable than suspected.

“Organizing in opposition to Obama’s onerous cap-and-trade energy proposal, his attempted government takeover of health care, his attempt to eliminate the secret ballot in union elections, and his tax increases is proceeding apace, and holds out reasonable prospects for success.”

QUIET HORROR

“When President Barack Obama signed his executive order to allow human embryos to be mined for their stem cells in order to help older, more powerful humans, there was much excited applause,” Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes.

“The applause came from so many, their eyes bright, lit as if from within. It came from those who believe in scientific progress as the answer to the problems of the modern world, believing as fervently as any monk on the slopes of Mt. Athos believes in the Resurrection of Christ,” Mr. Kass said.

“In signing the order last week, the president said that the Bush administration, which strictly limited such research, had offered a false choice between science and morality. He said his new order ‘is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda - and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.’

“There it was. Ideology, a pejorative applied to faith, offered up during Lent by our president.

“As a Greek Orthodox Christian, I’m troubled by all of this, as are many Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others who are taught by the faiths of our fathers that life is sacred. And I know there are many who belong to these faiths and see nothing wrong with stem cell research.

“But many of us watch in quiet horror as America rationalizes the conversion of life into a medical product to further other lives, as our culture ignores the cost to our humanity.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce.

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