- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Red State vs. NRSC

Conservative bloggers and political activists have been up in arms since the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) endorsed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on May 12 for that state’s open Senate seat.

The primary is 15 months away, and at least a prominent conservative Republican lawmaker - former state House Speaker Marco Rubio - already had said he was running.

Red State.com leader Erick Erickson founded a Facebook group whose members vow to give “not one penny” to the NRSC.

“If the NRSC thinks this is smart, we must not waste our time or energy with them. Join me in pledging no money, no help, no aid, and no support for the NRSC’s efforts in the 2010 election cycle,” Mr. Erickson said at Red State.

Several conservative co-bloggers built a new site around the idea, called Not One Red Cent, which, among other things, chronicles the opposition and the party establishment’s response.

The rebellion helped force Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Green to declare the party officially neutral after, as Mr. Erickson noted, having tried “to use party rules to get Rubio knocked off the ballot” and having “made clear at [a Republican National Committee] meeting that the Republican Party of Florida would be supporting only Crist in the Senate race.”

NRO vs. Biden

National Review’s Jim Geraghty went toe-to-toe with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. last week, accusing him of again exaggerating (a Biden foot-in-mouth moment… pshaw), this time in a speech before the Bosnian Parliament in Sarajevo.

The New York Times had reported that “Mr. Biden recalled his trip to the country in 1993, and how, flying in at the time, his plane was fired upon, and bombed-out homes with snipers inside could be seen.” Mr. Geraghty noted disbelievingly at his Campaign Spot blog that “a preliminary archive search suggests that this is the first time Biden has ever mentioned his plane being fired upon” during the trip.

The vice president’s office responded with a Senate report that noted that Mr. Biden’s first effort to land in the Bosnian capital was turned back “due to fighting at the Sarajevo airport,” a rebuttal Mr. Geraghty characterized in his second post’s title as “We Know Joe Biden Was in Sarajevo, and People Were Shooting.”

“To Biden’s credit, it does appear his delegation was passing through some dangerous territory on that trip. However, it doesn’t quite line up with his statement that his plane was fired upon. … If the plane had been fired upon, wouldn’t it have been mentioned in the report? Doesn’t that seem to be a big detail to get left out?” Mr. Geraghty asked before posting an image of the 1993 Senate report, which does not mention any firing on the plane.

Pope vs. supermodel

In an interview with a French women’s magazine, French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy criticized the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception as leaving her “profoundly secular” and damaging countries in Africa.

“I was born Catholic, I was baptized, but in my life I feel profoundly secular. I find that the controversy coming from the Pope’s message - albeit distorted by the media - is very damaging,” Mrs. Sarkozy told Femme Actuelle before going to the subject that every church critic eventually gets back to - sex.

“I think the Church should evolve on this issue. It presents the condom as a contraceptive, which, incidentally, it forbids, although it is the only existing protection,” she said.

Jane Mossendew, an Englishwoman living in France who writes at the Blogspot site Thoughts From an Oasis in French Catholicism, noted several times that the twice-married former supermodel frequently ridiculed church teachings on marriage (“I prefer polygamy and polyandry,” for example) long before the recent furor over Pope Benedict XVI’s words on condoms and the spread of AIDS in Africa.

“First, though not the most important, is diplomatic behavior according to protocol,” Mrs. Mossendew wrote. “[Former French first lady] Danielle Mitterrand … has roundly rebutted Bruni’s recent public statements, which seem to show no concern whatsoever that they may damage the diplomacy and statesmanship of her husband, whatever one thinks of either of those.

“Why has Bruni decided to make these statements now?… Seekers after peace and reason have all moved on, and are now considering the impact of [the pope’s] pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Clearly, she has been asleep. Either that, or she is deliberately trying to discredit the Holy Father and divert attention from his most recent acts and words. Whichever way it is, the woman’s arrogance beggars belief.”

Klein vs. Krauthammer

This goes beyond President Obama’s quip about the Special Olympics and his bowling score - which at least was self-directed and self-deprecating.

In an interview with Politico, Joe Klein of Time said Charles Krauthammer’s punditry on foreign policy is handicapped by … well, Mr. Krauthammer’s being handicapped.

As Politico reported: ” ‘There’s something tragic about him, too,’ Klein said, referring to Krauthammer’s confinement to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident during his first year of medical school. ‘His work would have a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he’s writing about.’ ”

An avalanche of denunciation ensued.

Betsy Newmark called the attack “particularly nasty,” and Jules Crittenden said Mr. Klein’s argument is “actually a sort of modified chickenhawk argument. More of a cripplehawk argument, I guess.”

Mr. Klein responded at the Time blog, Swampland, to “the usual neoconservative malingerers” by saying that, “obviously, I didn’t mean to imply second-class status for disabled people.” But then he elaborated: “It is possible to write brilliant, nuanced commentary - on the war in Iraq, for example - without visiting there. But it sure does help to understand a complicated situation in an unfamiliar culture if you can see it for yourself. Indeed, I believe the leavening effects of direct experience are especially valuable for those who are blinkered by ideology and debilitated by extreme views.”

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway noted that this more or less confirms that Mr. Klein was indeed blaming, at least in part, Mr. Krauthammer’s handicap for his supposedly wrongheaded analysis.

“Upon first reading the quote, I was prepared to believe that [Politico reporter Ben] Smith was reading between the lines about what Klein meant. But in his non-apology apology, it’s clear Klein is in fact referring to Krauthammer’s inability to travel to conflict zones, a byproduct of his disability. That’s not quite the same thing as making fun of Krauthammer for being paralyzed, but it’s dangerous territory,” Mr. Joyner wrote.

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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