- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

Crucial weeks

“Some senior Republicans are looking at the next four weeks as ‘make it or break it’ time for the White House,” U.S. News & World Report says in its White House Week column.

“In early January, the Democrats will take over Congress and signal how aggressively they will confront the administration on Iraq and a wide range of domestic issues. By mid-January, President Bush will have delivered his high-stakes speech setting forth ‘the way forward’ in Iraq. Bush will then give his State of the Union Address on Jan. 23.

” ‘Anything the president wants to do in the last two years of his term will be contingent on the reaction to his new course in Iraq,’ says a senior GOP adviser. ‘If he bombs when he gives the Iraq speech, the fat lady sings.’ White House officials, however, argue that Democrats won’t be able to escape responsibility for improving the situation in Iraq. ‘The Democrats are going to own this policy, too,’ a senior White House official says.”

Lacking in vanity

“One of the greatest things about Gerald Ford as a former president was that he didn’t say much. He had no need for the spotlight. He was modest in the old-fashioned way of stepping aside and not getting in the way of the new guy,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“He kept a lot to himself. This was in part because he had a self to leave it to,” Miss Noonan said.

“It must have taken some effort. The man who replaced him, Jimmy Carter, was a kind of non-Ford, offering personal goodness as his main calling card. He carried his own garment bag. He was not imperial. He was awfully proud of his humility. The man who followed him, Ronald Reagan, differed from Ford not so much characterologically as politically, and his success might have grated on his old foe. But it doesn’t seem to have. Ford seemed happy when things turned out well for America. That was apparently his primary interest.

“He seemed lacking in vanity. There is no evidence that he was obsessed with his legacy. He didn’t worry and fret about whether history would fully capture and proclaim his excellence, and because of this he didn’t always have to run around proving he was right. He just did his best and kept walking. What a grown-up thing to do. Former, current and future presidents would do well to ponder this approach. History would treat them more kindly. The legacy of a man who spends his time worrying about his legacy is always: He worried about his legacy.”

Obama ad

A group that is trying to encourage Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to run for president says it has purchased time on ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates in Iowa to send a message today to potential Iowa caucus-goers.

“We view 2007 as a New Year full of hope, and no one conveys that message of hopeful optimism for a brighter tomorrow better than Barack Obama,” said Ben Stanfield, DraftObama.org founder. “Putting the ad on TV in Iowa on New Year’s Day is our humble way of asking potential Iowa caucus-goers to encourage Senator Obama to run for president. We’re so excited to be sharing the nation’s first 2008 campaign ad with the nation’s first caucus state.”

DraftObama.org’s TV ad, called “Believe Again,” already has aired in New Hampshire. The ad also aired in Hawaii on Christmas Day, where Mr. Obama was vacationing, and in the District. The groups says more than 100,000 people have seen the ad on YouTube and the DraftObama.org Web site.

Democratic media consultant Bud Jackson produced the 60-second spot, which combines pictures of Mr. Obama at rallies with voice-overs from the senator’s speeches from the 2006 campaign stump and his address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

A ‘fitting end’

“Death on a scaffold is the fitting ending for Saddam Hussein,” the editors of National Review write at www.nationalreview.com.

“His was a carefully conceived career of mass murder and terror, and an Iraqi court, with Iraqi judges and Iraqi lawyers, has sat in judgment on it. True, they passed sentence on only a small portion of his crimes, and much of the evidence was still to be heard of the genocide he ordered for the Shi’ites and the Kurds. However, legalistic quibbles or conscientious objections are particularly misplaced. Iraq has long been a failed state, its true condition concealed by a run of dictators, each more brutal than the last,” the editors said.

“Nothing can be said for Saddam except that he knew no better than the rule of the gun under which he had always lived. He was to make the most of the opportunities for crime open in the circumstances to anyone of vicious character like him. He was barely adult when revolutionary nationalists staged a coup, and killed virtually all the members of the family hitherto ruling Iraq. At that same time, Saddam declared himself a revolutionary nationalist, but in reality he too was a glorified hit man like the others. In due course, purposefully, he murdered his way to absolute power. As he went to his death, he may have recalled the 22 colleagues and rivals whom he accused of conspiracy with ‘U.S. imperialism’ and whose hanging he one day personally supervised.”

Lugar’s advice

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and the outgoing chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is urging President Bush to work with the committee before he submits a new plan for the war in Iraq.

“In the past, the administration has been inclined not to disregard Congress, but to not take Congress seriously,” Mr. Lugar said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think this time Congress has to be taken seriously. There’s been an election. The Republicans lost the election.”

If the committee is given details of the plan in advance, “The hearings then in Foreign Relations become well-informed, sophisticated situations, rather than a lynching party,” Mr. Lugar said.

Arnold goes home

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was released from a hospital Saturday, four days after undergoing surgery to repair a broken leg suffered while skiing.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, 59, expects to walk with crutches when he is sworn in Friday to begin his second term. In a statement released by his office, the governor said the injury had not dampened his optimism for the coming year, the Associated Press reports.

“It was fantastic to return home today as my family prepares to celebrate the New Year together,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “I am feeling good and looking forward to beginning 2007” with the inauguration, the State of the State address and a budget proposal to the Legislature.

Mr. Schwarzenegger broke his right thigh bone the previous weekend while skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. In a 90-minute operation Tuesday, doctors at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., used screws and cables to link the broken fragments of the bone.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, said patients typically need eight weeks to heal from such a fracture.

c Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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