- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

McCain’s letter

Sen. John McCain has signed a letter for the Environmental Defense Action Fund, in which the Arizona Republican emphasizes the group’s support for his bill that aims to place “the first-ever national cap on global warming pollution.”

Mr. McCain, in his letter, mentions no specific type of “pollution,” although carbon dioxide has been the main target of anti-global-warming lobbyists. Carbon dioxide is produced in large part by human breathing and cattle flatulence.

The Environmental Defense Action Fund sent out the mailing, including Mr. McCain’s letter, in which it asked for contributions and for recipients to sign and mail a prewritten “petition” asking their home-state senators to support Mr. McCain’s bill.

“To mobilize forward-thinking citizens like you, I’ve again teamed up with Environmental Defense Global Warming Action Network because of their long track record of producing results,” Mr. McCain said.

“Realistically, Environmental Defense is the one organization with the necessary experience and vision to get the job done and break that 51-vote threshold,” the senator added.

The global-warming issue has become increasingly contentious as critics accuse proponents of the Kyoto anti-global-warming treaty of substituting propaganda for argument. Opponents of Kyoto and legislation such as Mr. McCain’s say such efforts would reduce economic growth in return for results so meager they would be almost unmeasurable.

The wimp label

“If the ascendant Democrats can project national-security strength over the next 18 months, they can win back the White House in 2008. But if they can’t do that — if they fail to convince swing voters that they have the smarts and the moxie to keep America safe — they will surely lose yet again,” Philadelphia Inquirer political analyst Dick Polman writes.

“It’s that simple. The Democrats’ biggest challenge, as they prepare to take power on Capitol Hill, is to eradicate the wimp label that, fairly or not, has dogged them since the ‘70s. They have to show they can protect us better than the GOP. They have to make themselves impervious to Republican ridicule, the kind that George W. Bush’s father employed in 1988, when he said of Michael Dukakis, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought a ‘naval exercise’ was something you find in Jane Fonda’s workout book.”

“Democrats do have an unparalleled opportunity to effectuate this image overhaul. Swing voters are clearly prepared to listen, having just decisively rebuked President Bush and the GOP for their disastrous mismanagement of the Iraq war. These voters did not endorse a Democratic national security vision because none was offered. But they essentially invited the Democrats to explain how they would better handle Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the crisis of an overstretched military and the war on terrorism in general.”

Block that hike

“To the naked eye, a hike in the federal minimum wage looks like a done deal,” Jeremy Lott writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi will include it in the House’s ‘first 100 hours’ agenda. President Bush has said he’ll sign a hike as long as it includes some relief for small businesses. It would be difficult for the minority of Republican senators to sustain a filibuster in defense of a wage floor that was set in 1997,” said Mr. Lott, who is the Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“However, there is one big reason for the Democrats — yes, Democrats — to avoid hiking the federal minimum wage in 2007. It’s a politically dumb thing to do because it would deprive them of a crucial get-out-the-vote issue in the 2008 elections.

“Minimum-wage increases were up for vote in six states this year and carried all but one state by overwhelming margins (Coloradans approved it by a more modest margin). Residents of Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio decided that low-wage workers deserved a raise — out of somebody else’s wallet, of course.

“The minimum-wage vote had four positive effects for Democrats: (1) It gave them control of the U.S. Senate; (2) It added to their majority in the House; (3) It helped them in state gubernatorial and legislative races; and (4) It was a Democrat-friendly issue to rival gay marriage.”

Mr. Lott added: “What might serve Democrats best at this point is misdirection and demagoguery. They can encourage Republicans in the Senate to filibuster it or, failing that, pass a bill so ridiculous that even President Bush will have to veto it. Then tell voters the Man is keeping them down.”

New Hampshire poll

Two weeks after speaking to a sellout crowd of more than 1,600 in New Hampshire, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is reaping the benefits of his visit, the Concord (N.H.) Monitor reports.

If the Democratic primary were held now, Mr. Obama would be in a statistical dead heat withNew York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a new Monitor poll. Last month, a Monitor poll showed Mrs. Clinton trouncing her opponents, with Mr. Obama lagging 23 points behind, the newspaper said.

“I’m not surprised, because Barack Obama got five days of constant media attention in New Hampshire,” said Jim Demers, a lobbyist and former Democratic lawmaker who accompanied Mr. Obama throughout the senator’s New Hampshire visit. “Obama has demonstrated to the people of New Hampshire that he’s a top-tier candidate.”

Although Mrs. Clinton commands considerable support among likely Democratic primary voters, she struggles in general election match-ups, according to the poll. If the contest were held now, both Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani would prevail over Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama, in contrast, would eke out a slight win over both Republican candidates, the poll suggests. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards is neck-and-neck with the Republicans.

As the 2008 presidential primaries near, the Republican field has also become increasingly competitive. Mr. Giuliani closed the gap with Mr. McCain in recent weeks, turning an 8-point deficit into a slight lead, according to the poll.Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich trail, with 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively. The poll shows Mr. Giuliani garnering 26 percent to Mr. McCain’s 25 percent.

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

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