- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2009

WATER’S EDGE

“Watching President Obama and Hillary Clinton conduct their mini-summit with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, I flashed back to their bitter campaign last year,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“As they sought to outbid each other on who would be the bigger peacenik, it was impossible to imagine either one, let alone both, embracing many of the Bush-era policies against terrorism,” Mr. Goodwin said. “Yet there they were last week, ramping up American military might and promising expanded civilian efforts.”

“They’ve come a long way, baby. Hopefully, the rest of the Democratic Party will follow. If so, it could mean the end of a dangerous habit of turning national security into a political football. It’s past time to return to the ideal that partisanship should end at the water’s edge.

“Of course, Obama and Clinton did more than their share to shatter that ideal, as they piled on the anti-Bush bandwagon in a bid to gain votes. As senators, they stooped to vote to defund the Iraq war while the troops were in harm’s way. Both opposed the surge, which is largely responsible for the improved situation in Iraq.

“Obama hasn’t entirely broken free of campaign mode, ordering Guantanamo prison closed before he has plans for hundreds of detainees. And his flirtation with prosecuting those who authored memos on waterboarding was unfair and unwise.”

SAYING NO

“Improving the party’s image is a worthy cause, but it isn’t what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks [President] Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn’t. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies - on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc. - would change the country in ways most Americans don’t believe in. That’s the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.

“This scenario has occurred time and again. Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn’t because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.

“If Republicans scan their history, they’ll discover unbridled opposition to bad Democratic policies pays off. Those two factors, unattractive policies plus strong opposition, were responsible for the Republican landslides in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1980, and 1994. A similar blowout may be beyond the reach of Republicans in 2010, but stranger things have happened in electoral politics. They’ll lose nothing by trying.”

SPLIT ON ACORN

“Democrats are split on how to deal with Acorn, the liberal ‘community organizing’ group that deployed thousands of get-out-the-vote workers last election,” John Fund writes at the Wall Street Journal’s www.opinionjournal.com.

“State and city Democratic officials - who’ve been contending with its many scandals - are moving against it. Washington Democrats are still sweeping Acorn abuses under a rug,” Mr. Fund said.

“[Last] Monday, Nevada officials charged Acorn, its regional director and its Las Vegas field director with submitting thousands of fraudulent voter-registration forms last year. Larry Lomax, the registrar of voters in Las Vegas, says he believes 48 percent of Acorn’s forms ‘are clearly fraudulent.’ On Thursday, prosecutors in Pittsburgh, Pa., also charged seven Acorn employees with filing hundreds of fraudulent voter registrations before last year’s general election.”

“Other Democrats on the ground have complaints. Fred Voight, deputy election commissioner in Philadelphia, protested after Acorn (according to the registrar of voters and his own investigation) submitted at least 1,500 fraudulent registrations last fall. ‘This has been going on for a number of years,’ he told CNN in October. St. Louis Democrat Matthew Potter, the city’s deputy elections director, had similar complaints.”

The stink is bad enough that some congressional Democrats have taken notice. At a March 19 hearing on election problems, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pressed New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties, to hold a hearing on Acorn. He called the charges against it ‘serious.’ Mr. Nadler agreed to consider the request.

“Mr. Nadler’s office now says there will be no hearing on Acorn because Mr. Conyers has changed his mind. … A Democratic staffer told me he believes the House leadership put pressure on Mr. Conyers to back down. Mr. Conyers’s office says it is ‘unaware’ of any contacts with House leaders.”

OUT OF EXCUSES

“Democrats are in a tough spot on immigration reform. Actually, make that a number of tough spots,” Ruben Navarrette writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“For one thing, they’re caught between pandering to Latino constituents who want them to strike a deal that legalizes millions of illegal immigrants and catering to organized labor, which adamantly opposes the one element of reform Republicans say must be part of the deal: guest workers,” Mr. Navarette said.

“For another, now that Democrats control Congress and the White House, they’ve run out of excuses as to why they’re doing nothing. But at the same time, they’d rather not do anything because as long as there is a stalemate, they can use the issue against Republicans.

“After all, there are two ways to get ahead in politics: Make yourself look good or make your opponent look bad. The immigration debate - and the xenophobic language that some Republicans have carelessly infused into it - helps Democrats look good to their Latino constituents. But the spell is wearing off now that Latinos are beginning to wonder why Democrats can’t deliver immigration reform even when they have power. Answer: Because not all of them want to deliver.”

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

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