- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading roster

What? John Edwards was henpecked and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made racial remarks? Sarah Palin called her then-opponent “Sen. Joe O’Biden?” Is this book a real game-changer or just tattletale reading for political junkies?

“Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime” by Time’s Mark Halperin and New York’s John Heilemann — based on 200 interviews with anonymous campaign insiders — is not officially on bookshelves until Tuesday. Leaked portions have already created an unpleasant hubbub for both Mr. Reid and Mrs. Palin in the last 48 hours, despite the fact that the book’s provocative content is, for the most part, stylishly written but mostly unsourced.

“Because it has so much inside stuff, ‘Game Change’ — already #1 on Amazon — has the potential to be a classic political book,” Ron Kessler tells Inside the Beltway.

Mr. Kessler is the author of “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” which also includes insights into political foibles.

Mr. Kessler has a few recommendations for those who would like to revisit books of yore that he says “memorably explode presidential myths.” The books are:

“The Twilight of the Presidency” by George E. Reedy (1970), “JFK: Reckless Youth” by Nigel Hamilton (1992), “Truman” by David McCullough (1992), The Warren Commission Report (1964), and last but not least, “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (1974).

Resignation chic

‘Tis the season: The blunt and dramatic “call for the resignation” has become the political tool of choice. Indeed, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele issued just such a demand to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his untimely racial remarks about President Obama, revealed in the aforementioned “Game Change.”

Irked Republicans have also called for Mr. Steele’s resignation for assorted reasons.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is the reigning queen of resignation; the call for her departure has been sounded by a wide swath of Republicans, including Mr. Steele, Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana and Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas — plus such high-profile conservatives as American Spectator publisher Al Regnery and American Conservative Union President David Keene.

Mr. Keene has also called on Erroll Southers, a nominee for director of the Transportation Security Administration, to withdraw his nomination after reports surfaced that Mr. Southers, while serving as an FBI agent, used his power to gain access to confidential government criminal records about his estranged wife’s new boyfriend.

Not to be outdone, the Lyndon Larouche campaign is publicizing an event at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the National Press Club. The title: “Lyndon Larouche PAC to Introduce LaRouche Youth Candidates to Washington: It’s Time For a Bill of Impeachment Against the President.”

Just sign here

The “Underwear Bomber” has drawn press interest away from the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four al Qaeda cohorts, to be held in a New York City civilian court rather than in a military tribunal. A huge group of those who disagree with this scenario remain intent on blocking the proceedings. In two days, 44,000 people have signed a petition organized by Human Events magazine, to be sent to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. questioning his “precedent-changing decision.”

The publication reports that the signers include former Virginia Gov. George Allen, publisher Steve Forbes, Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona and Jim Jordan of Ohio, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and actor Chuck Norris.

“Trying these terrorists in a civilian court would be a break with 200-plus years of American jurisprudence,” the petition states.

“The very real possibility exists that if tried in a civilian court, KSM and the others could be acquitted on a technicality, such as their not having been informed of their Miranda rights, or having been denied a speedy trial. … KSM and the others should not be allowed to hijack our courts, using them as a media circus to promulgate their hate-filled, extremist views.”

See the complete petition at www.humanevents.com

Getting antsy

From a mass message to supporters from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director J.B. Poersch comes proof that politics is still local, local, local.

“You need to know this: Polls are tightening in Massachusetts, and America’s future hangs on getting [Democratic state Attorney General] Martha Coakley elected to Ted Kennedy’s seat on Jan. 19. Winning this special election means passing health care reform and the rest of President Obama’s agenda,” Mr. Poersch says.

“American Future Fund, the guys who brought you the Swift Boat attacks against decorated war veteran John Kerry, are up with a $400,000 buy, smearing Coakley. She’s being outspent, and a new poll shows that the right-wing money is doing the trick. Republican Scott Brown is within striking distance.”

Poll du jour

• 64 percent of Americans overall say Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain strongly influences the Republican Party.

• 68 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

• 50 percent of Americans say former Speaker Newt Gingrich influences the Republican Party.

• 57 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

• 50 percent of Americans say Rush Limbaugh strongly influences Republicans.

• 56 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

• 47 percent of Americans say Sarah Palin influences the Republican Party.

• 59 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,276 adults conducted Dec. 7 to 14.

Reassuring words, tattletales, magnificent press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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