- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

UNCONVINCING

“I spoke with thousands of voters at town-hall meetings this summer,” Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“What I gathered from them is that it’s not just the proposed overhaul of health care that has them upset. Many also expressed a sense of betrayal. In spite of their hope for change, it still appears that the government in Washington is run for its own benefit and the benefit of special interests — not for the benefit of the American people. The folks I met with also don’t trust politicians in Washington to address mounting long-term challenges to our economy,” Mr. Coburn said.

“It’s not just the attendees of town-halls meetings in Oklahoma. Voters across the country are telling Washington what’s on their mind, if only more people inside the Beltway would listen. A Rasmussen poll released last month showed that 40 percent of voters said that cutting the deficit in half by 2012 should be President Barack Obama’s top priority. Only 21 percent said health care reform should be his No. 1 priority.

“Notwithstanding these polling results, the administration and Congress have responded by trying to win public support on the strength of an argument that’s too clever to be true. They say that the key to saving money is spending money, a lot of money. And they’ve done just that with a $787 billion stimulus program as well as billions in bailouts and proposals to spend vast sums on health care reform and other things. Their belief seems to be that every government expenditure grows the economy or can be counterbalanced with cost savings.

“It’s a confusing argument, and it’s flat wrong, particularly with regard to health care. The Congressional Budget Office has said as much when it stated a few weeks ago that the health care legislation before Congress fails to restrain costs and instead ‘significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs.’

“A more convincing argument would be this: Let’s save money by spending less. This argument doesn’t require a clever explanation, but it does requiring putting the government in the position where it has to set realistic priorities. Most families realize that they can’t live indefinitely on borrowed money and would be delighted if the government joined them in the real world of tough spending choices.

“However, Congress has shown no sign of departing from the status quo.”

BACK ON TOP

“Conservatives are resuming their historically dominant position atop the New York Times and Amazon.com best-sellers lists after a short hiatus that coincided, not coincidentally, with George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House,” Lachlan Markay writes in a blog at newsbusters .org.

“While the mainstream media raved about a new era of leftist intellectual supremacy during the liberal ascendance on the best-sellers lists, the return of conservative books to the tops of those lists seems to be going unnoticed,” the writer said.

“Amazon, which, unlike the New York Times, ranks books according to the number of actual copies sold, shows Glenn Beck’s ‘Common Sense’ rounding out the top, with Michelle Malkin’s ‘Culture of Corruption’ coming in a close second. Ron Paul’s ‘End the Fed’ comes in at number seven, Mark Levin’s ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ is at number nine, and at number 22 is Dick Morris and Eileen McGann’s ‘Catastrophe,’ which carries the blunt sub-heading, ‘How Obama, Congress, and the special interests are transforming … a slump into a crash, freedom into socialism, and a disaster into a catastrophe … and how to fight back.’

“The New York Times, which uses an opaque though accurate algorithm to rank its bestsellers, has ‘Culture of Corruption’ at number one, ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ at number five, ‘Catastrophe’ at number seven, Bill O’Reilly’s memoir ‘A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity’ at number eight, and Robert Wright’s less political but ostensibly conservative ‘The Evolution of God’ at number 12.

“The New York Times ranks paperbacks separately, and puts ‘Common Sense’ at second on that list. Further down, at number 14, is Timothy Keller’s ‘The Reason for God,’ a spirited defense of Christian faith.

“The left is reeling from this regression to the pre-Bush days, which also saw conservative dominance of the best-sellers lists. From 1991 to 2001, there were eight overtly conservative books that topped the NYT list, while only two liberal authors, Al Franken and Hillary Clinton, managed to publish number-one best-sellers.”

LOW NUMBERS

“Much has been written about Obama’s stark and speedy decline in the polls. However, voters like Congress even less,” Jennifer Rubin writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine .com.

“Politico notes: ‘The number of Americans who view Congress favorably has dipped to a 24-year low, according to a new Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll released Wednesday. Only 37 percent of those surveyed held a favorable view of Congress, down 13 percentage points since April, while 52 percent held an unfavorable view.’

“Rasmussen reports that 57 percent of voters would like to replace the entire Congress. Depending on the poll, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings range from the mid-30s to the high 20s. And Majority Leader Harry Reid trails in polls for his Senate re-election in 2010,” the writer said.

“All in all, it’s a fairly stunning performance for the Democratic-controlled Congress, which can no longer blame its woes (at least not credibly) on the Republicans. Democrats control the show, and so far voters are voting thumbs down. Might it be that the spend-a-thon and the parade of ethical problem children are putting voters in another ‘throw the bums out’ sort of mood?”

LOW EXPECTATIONS

“Republican pollsters and campaign pros are tamping down excited talk by some that President Obama’s woes will mean a huge pickup of House seats in the midterm elections next year,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“While some compare it to 1994, when concern over Bill Clinton’s health care plan and other issues led to a historic 52-seat House Democratic loss, Republicans say the impact will be closer to 1982, when Ronald Reagan lost about 26 House seats.

” ‘This is much more like ‘82 than it is ‘94,’ says GOP pollster Bill McInturff. ‘This is a country that still wants the president to be successful.’ ”

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

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