- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BULLY BOY

“If the Obama administration were a flotilla of ships, it might be sending out an SOS right about now,” Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes.

“ObamaCare has hit the political equivalent of an iceberg. And last week the presidents international prestige was broadsided by the Scots, who set free the Lockerbie bomber without the least consideration of American concerns. Mr. Obamas campaign promise of restoring common sense to budget management is sleeping with the fishes,” the writer said.

“This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can’t bear another loss right now. Most especially it can’t afford to be defeated by the government of a puny Central American country that doesn’t seem to know its place in the world and dares to defy the imperial orders of Uncle Sam.

“I’m referring, of course, to Honduras, which despite two months of intense pressure from Washington is still refusing to reinstate Manuel Zelaya, its deposed president. Last week, the administration took off the gloves and sent a message that it would use everything it has to break the neck of the Honduran democracy. Its bullying might work. But it will never be able to brag about what it has done.

“The most recent example of the Obama-style Good Neighbor Policy was the announcement last week that visa services for Hondurans are suspended indefinitely, and that some $135 million in bilateral aid might be cut. But these are only the public examples of its hardball tactics. Much nastier stuff is going on behind the scenes, practiced by a presidency that once promised the American people greater transparency and a less interventionist foreign policy.

“To recap, the Honduran military in June executed a Supreme Court arrest warrant against Mr. Zelaya for trying to hold a referendum on whether he should be able to run for a second term. Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution states that any president who tries for a second term automatically loses the privilege of his office. By insisting that Mr. Zelaya be returned to power, the U.S. is trying to force Honduras to violate its own constitution.”

HARD TO PREDICT

The California10th Congressional District special primary election to replace former Democratic Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher remains “agonizingly unpredictable” as voters head for the polls Tuesday, the Contra Costa Times reports.

“Anticipated low voter turnout, coupled with a large field of candidates and a compressed election cycle, is generating heavily qualified forecasts from professional and armchair political analysts alike,” reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen wrote Monday.

“A national expert gives the better-known Democratic Lt. Gov.John Garamendi of Walnut Grove the edge, citing the benefits of name identification in a short election cycle. Garamendi also leads in the money race and in several recent polls.

“But editor of the newsletter Cook Political Report, David Wasserman, does not rule out victory for state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The senator has stronger local ties in Contra Costa County - where the bulk of the district’s voters live - and could turn out more voters than his competitors.”

The ballot contains the names of 14 candidates - five Democrats, six Republicans and three minor-party members - in the heavily Democratic district, the newspaper said.

“The seat opened in June after Tauscher, a seven-term congresswoman, resigned after her confirmation as undersecretary of arms control and international security in the State Department.

“Under special-election rules, the top vote-getter in each party will advance to a Nov. 3 runoff unless one candidate receives a majority of the vote Tuesday.”

CRUEL SEPTEMBER

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, because it mixes hope with desire. For Democrats, April was easy, washed away in the Obama spending tsunami,” Jed Babbin writes at www.humanevents.com.

“September will be the cruelest month for Democrats because their hope to pass Obamacare and cap-and-trade has run headlong into the opposition of their untrusting constituents,” Mr. Babbin said.

“Just as they left for their summer vacation, House Democrats were given a strategy memo by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The strategy memo said (as Human Events Connie Hair reported on August 3), ‘Winning the health reform debate in August requires nothing less than an aggressive, multifront effort to control the message and keep the momentum moving forward.’

“At that point, Gallup reported that only 20 percent of Americans believe the health care system is in crisis and even fewer - 16 percent - say health care reform was the top priority.

“Democrats - including Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - spent the month calling their constituents names. Among the insults they hurled were that the vocal town hall opponents of Obamacare were ‘un-American,’ ‘evil mongers.’ And Indianas answer to Snoopy, ‘Red’ Baron Hill, said their words were those of domestic terrorists.

“So how did that work out?

“A week before Congress comes back, the latest Rasmussen report - released [Monday] - found that 57 percent of American voters ‘would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again.’ ”

INTERNAL WARS

“Is 2010 shaping up to be the year of the primary?” Mike Memoli asks in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“One of the unknown outcomes of the health care debate is whether the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party will follow through on its promise to challenge those who don’t support a public option. Sen. Arlen Specter already faces a challenge from the left in Rep. Joe Sestak. Last week, a high-profile Arkansas Democrat suggested he may challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln. And open-seat races in Illinois and Ohio have already drawn multiple Democrats,” Mr. Memoli said.

“As the [conventional wisdom] hardens that Republicans are poised to pick up seats in the midterms, meanwhile, one can’t overlook a developing intraparty schism. The [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] happily points [Monday] to two possible battles between the party in Washington and the grass roots.

Rand Paul’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky has launched a Web site seeking to raise funds through a ‘money bomb’ on Sept. 23, the same day fellow Republican Trey Grayson heads to Washington for a fundraiser featuring 23 incumbents. And the Denver Post reports on some push back to an apparent [National Republican Senatorial Committee] effort to back former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Colorado Senate race.”

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

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