- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 2, 2009

THE BIG SLIDE

“Two tides swept over American politics last winter,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“The first was the Obama tide. Barack Obama came into office with an impressive 70 percent approval rating. The second was the independent tide. Over the first months of this year, the number of people who called themselves either Democrats or Republicans declined, while the number who called themselves independents surged ahead,” Mr. Brooks said.

“Obama’s challenge was to push his agenda through a Democratic-controlled government while retaining the affection of the 39 percent of Americans in the middle.

“The administration hasn’t been able to pull it off. From the stimulus to health care, it has joined itself at the hip to the liberal leadership in Congress. The White House has failed to veto measures, like the pork-laden omnibus spending bill, that would have demonstrated independence and fiscal restraint. By force of circumstances and by design, the president has promoted one policy after another that increases spending and centralizes power in Washington.

“The result is the Obama slide, the most important feature of the current moment. The number of Americans who trust President Obama to make the right decisions has fallen by roughly 17 percentage points. Obama’s job approval is down to about 50 percent. All presidents fall from their honeymoon highs, but in the history of polling, no newly elected American president has fallen this far this fast.

“Anxiety is now pervasive. Trust in government rose when Obama took office. It has fallen back to historic lows. Fifty-nine percent of Americans now think the country is headed in the wrong direction.”

PICK A DAY

“A few weeks ago, I casually mentioned in a Web conversation on Politico’s Web page that if supporters of universal health care and a ‘public option’ felt their voices were not being heard in our nation’s capital they should march on Washington,” Robert B. Reich writes at www.salon.com.

“A few moments later, when someone wrote in asking when, I glanced at a calendar and in a burst of unreflective enthusiasm offered September 13. I didn’t check with anyone, didn’t strategize with progressive groups that have been working on health care for years, barely checked in with myself,” said Mr. Reich, who served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration.

“I was deluged with e-mails. Many people said they were planning to march. Someone put up a Web page, another a Facebook page, a member of Congress announced his support. But most people said they couldn’t manage September 13. It was too soon. It conflicted with other events. It followed too closely behind a right-wing march against health care reform already scheduled for September 12. It was a day AFL leaders were out of town, so couldn’t lend their support.

“Many who e-mailed me wanted another day - September 20, or the 27th, or early October. Others said they’d rather march on their state capital, in order that local media cover it. When I finally checked in with the heads of several progressive groups and unions in Washington - all with big mailing lists and the resources to organize a big march - they said they were already planning a march, for October. But they still haven’t given me a date. (I will pass it on as soon as I hear.)”

PALIN’S SPEECHES

“With the exception of occasional messages from her Facebook and Twitter accounts, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hasn’t been in the public eye since she left office last month,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“That’s about to change. Mike Allen of Politico.com reports that she has signed up with Washington Speakers Bureau, which represents everyone from George Bush to Bob Woodward and Colin Powell, to help sort through the nearly 1,000 requests for speeches that have poured in. The speeches Ms. Palin will give will range from paid appearances for six-figure fees to charitable and campaign events where little or no fee will be charged,” Mr. Fund said.

“Ms. Palin is also almost finished with a book on her 2008 campaign experience and political philosophy. She will soon have time to ponder what Politico.com calls ‘the inch-and-a-half thick file her lawyer, Robert Barnett, has built of offers for network and cable pundit gigs, documentaries and business opportunities.’

“If so, one of her first priorities will have to be repairing the reputation she is developing as a no-show. Last week, organizers for an Alaska initiative that would require that parents be notified before any child got an abortion reported that Ms. Palin had agreed to appear at their kickoff event but now wouldn’t show. Ms. Palin’s staff insists she wasn’t invited, and that she was out of the state.

“Normally, such incidents can be put down to a ‘she said, they said’ kind of dispute. But the Alaska no-show marked the fourth time in recent months that an anticipated Palin speech had fallen through because her staff insisted she had never confirmed it. Here’s hoping Washington Speakers Bureau, which apparently already is booking events for her, will now be able to minimize the crossed signals.”

HOLDER AND OBAMA

“The Obama administration’s determination to hold witch-hunt ‘investigations’ of CIA interrogators who did their patriotic best to keep us safe endangers us all,” New York Post columnist Ralph Peters writes.

“Castrate the CIA, and Americans will die. But the Obama White House wants vengeance against those who don’t fit its ideology. Your family’s safety comes a distant second,” Mr. Peters said.

“And let’s get real: Attorney General Eric Holder (whose top career achievement was finessing the presidential pardon of a criminal Clinton donor) is not acting independently.

“Anyone who believes that Holder didn’t pre-brief the president and get the nod prior to announcing his determination to crucify high-achieving CIA agents probably believes that government-run health care will balance the federal budget.

“I followed this travesty as I worked with our military at various bases last month. I could have been listening to old BBC World Service reports from the Third World. This is the sort of politicized retribution that prevails in backwater countries when regimes change.”

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

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