- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

Wooing workers

“Among the most jarring statistics from last fall’s election is John Kerry‘s 23-point deficit among white, working-class voters,” Noam Scheiber writes in the New Republic.

“For several months now, liberals have blamed this on Kerry’s timid economic message. And, for several months now, the many other explanations for why working-class voters might distrust Kerry — from national security to his Brahmin vacation habits — have made this economic argument easy to ignore. But last month, polling expert Ruy Teixeira stumbled onto a data point that made the liberal case far more compelling: Working-class whites not only preferred George W. Bush overall, they also favored him by a 16-point margin on the economy. Surely that vindicates the economic populists, doesn’t it?” Mr. Scheiber said.

“Actually, no. The biggest reason Democrats’ economic appeals to white, working-class voters fell flat isn’t that they weren’t passionate enough. It’s that Democrats have run up against the limits of what they — or anyone else — can do to create and protect good jobs, the top economic priority of working-class voters. And the political implications of that development are enormous.”

The battle ahead

“When Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd rose on the floor Tuesday to compare the tactics of his Republican colleagues in the battles over judicial nominees to those employed by Hitler in building the Reich, you knew two things,” Hugh Hewitt writes at the Weekly Standard’s Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

“First, that the Democrats would never abandon their extra-constitutional position that nominees to the federal courts could be required to receive 60 as opposed to 51 votes for confirmation.

“Second, that the Democrats had already lost the battle. When the captains are named Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, Boxer and Byrd, the outcome is not in doubt,” Mr. Hewitt said.

” … If the GOP sets up the confrontation with care, it could set the Democrats back another 10 years. The American public knows that a simple majority is the essence of fairness, and that the number ‘40’ does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. They also know that Democrats have raised the bar highest for nominees with orthodox religious views; their campaign against Catholic Judge William Pryor is especially offensive.

“Imagine the handicap newly announced Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey — the pro-life treasurer of Pennsylvania — will face in his race against incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum given his party’s bigotry towards devout Catholics like Pryor. Is Casey serious about making the argument that the rights of the unborn will be better off with another Democratic vote added to the caucus of obstruction? And if Casey promises to be open-minded about judges, will the GOP hesitate to point to newly elected Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado — who took less than two months to reverse his campaign position that all judicial nominees should get an up-or-down vote?

“The Democrats have insisted on calling people of faith ‘extremists.’ … Howard Dean went so far as to brand his opponents on abortion issues as ‘evil.’ This is the sort of extremism that brings forth not only anger, but also resolve.”

Hacking around

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s language “may have been slightly too strong” in describing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as a “political hack,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said yesterday.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday, Mr. Durbin criticized Mr. Greenspan, who recently endorsed President Bush’s proposal to reform Social Security. “I think Alan Greenspan made a grievous error when he endorsed tax cuts and brought us to this point in deficit,” Mr. Durbin said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said he doesn’t consider Mr. Greenspan a hack: “I mean, I voted for him the last two times, including when President Clinton renominated him” — but echoed the talking points.

“I think, looking back at the long, distinguished career of Alan Greenspan, to me, the biggest mistake he made was in giving blessing to the tax cuts that were adopted at the beginning of the Bush administration, which are part of the reason why we’re so deeply in debt today.”

On Friday, Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, told CNN: “I’m not a big Greenspan fan. … I voted against him the last two times. I think he’s one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington.”

Inside that poll

“In a January strategy memo, White House aide Peter Wehner wrote that the battle over Social Security had to begin with the president convincing Americans that there really is a problem — Wehner did not use the word ‘crisis,’ but he meant an urgent, serious problem — with the nation’s retirement system,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“‘We need to establish in the public mind a key fiscal fact: right now we are on an unsustainable course,’ Wehner wrote. ‘That reality needs to be seared into the public consciousness; it is the precondition to authentic reform.’

“Now, two months later, it appears the White House is making significant progress toward that goal,” Mr. York said, citing a New York Times/CBS poll, “which … provides solid evidence that the public is increasingly viewing Social Security as a problem that requires action.

“Reporting the poll’s results, the Times said the survey showed that Americans ‘are increasingly resistant to [the president’s] proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush’s ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program.’ …

“Yet deep inside the poll are numbers that are surely encouraging to the White House. Pollsters asked a series of questions about whether people believe that there is a serious problem with the Social Security system, and the results indicate that the strategy outlined by Wehner in January is working.”

Arnold’s rival

There’s bad news for California’s governor and any hopes he has of higher office.

A new poll shows Arnold Schwarzenegger soundly trailing one of his potential opponents in a general presidential election match-up, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat. The Westhill Partners-Hotline poll, taken Feb. 24 to 27 of 800 registered voters, found Mr. Richardson leading Mr. Schwarzenegger 36 percent to 27 percent.

The poll found that 65 percent of respondents opposed amending the Constitution to allow a foreign-born person to be elected president.

Shaping up

At a bodybuilding event in Columbus, Ohio, named for him, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday that he wants to ban all sales of junk food in California schools and fill vending machines with fresh fruits, vegetables and milk.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s comments came during a question-and-answer session with fans, when a questioner asked how he plans to combat youth obesity, the Associated Press reports.

“First of all, we in California this year are introducing legislation that would ban all the sale of junk food in the schools,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

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

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