- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Gloom and doom

“The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows — all emit a Stygian gloom about America,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Yes, on any given day on some discrete issue (Prime Minister Maliki’s bona fides, for example), the criticism of the American role is not without justification. But the cumulative effect of this unremitting ill wind is corrosive. We are not only on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in Iraq but into a diminished international status that may be harder to recover than the doom mob imagines. Self-criticism has its role, but profligate self-doubt can exact a price.

“Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins wonders ‘whether the clock has already run out.’ To U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the new strategy is ‘a dead end.’ For the Bush troop request, presidential candidate Joe Biden predicted ‘overwhelming rejection.’ (His committee resolution to that effect [Wednesday] passed by three votes.) Presidential candidate Chuck Hagel: ‘We have anarchy in Iraq. It’s getting worse.’ And not least, Sen. John Warner this week heaved his tenured eminence against the war effort, proposing another ‘non-binding’ resolution against more troops.”

Segregation foe

White House hopeful Rep. Tom Tancredo said yesterday that the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amounts to segregation and called for the groups to be abolished.

“It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race,” said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration.

“If we are serious about achieving the goal of a colorblind society, Congress should lead by example and end these divisive, race-based caucuses,” said Mr. Tancredo, who is scheduled to pitch his long-shot presidential bid this weekend in New Hampshire.

Mr. Tancredo’s request, relayed in a letter to House Administration Committee Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, California Democrat, revived his effort to change House rules to abolish the groups. Besides the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats also have a Hispanic caucus with 21 members, and Republicans have a comparable Hispanic conference with five full members and 11 “associate” members, who are not Hispanic.

The request comes in the wake of reports that freshman Rep. Stephen Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, was refused admission to the Congressional Black Caucus because he is white. All 43 members of the caucus are black.

Mr. Cohen said he told a reporter that he would be honored to join the caucus but did not apply, “nor has the CBC denied membership to me.”

However, the group would not have permitted Mr. Cohen to join, its new chairwoman told the Associated Press. Rep. Carolyn CheeksKilpatrick, Michigan Democrat, said the caucus decided early on that official membership would be restricted to blacks.

Gospel of Pelosi

“Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra, is getting a lot of attention for her documentary about evangelical Christians,” observes Michelle Malkin (www.michellemalkin.com), referring to “Friends of God,” which aired last night on HBO.

Appearing Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes,” Miss Pelosi “joked that evangelicals refer to HBO as ‘Hell’s Box Office’ — a sound-[byte]-friendly gag line that she has repeated numerous times in media interviews. Indeed, a Google search for the phrase ‘Hell’s Box Office’ turns up some 200 entries — the vast majority of them from news articles about Pelosi’s film.”

But Mrs. Malkin is skeptical. She quotes Bryan Preston of HotAir.com, an evangelical Christian: “Never once in my life heard ‘Hell’s Box Office’ before Alexandra Pelosi inflicted it on me in that clip. Not once. … It is certainly not a dominant meme in the hallowed halls of megachurches throughout these United States. So basically, she’s full of it.”

Mrs. Malkin adds: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Curious argument

Sen. James Webb is the toast of Democrats and their allies this week for his impressive response to the State of the Union speech — impressive in terms of rhetoric and delivery, if not always content,” Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Vincent Carroll writes.

“Webb was eloquent in denouncing Bush’s policy in Iraq, although his perspective is now the distilled consensus of most Democrats and many other Americans. More curious was his take on the economy, which amounted to another version of presidential candidate John Edwards’ ‘two Americas’ theme.

“Webb’s America is a portrait from Upton Sinclair — a place with a fantastically wealthy overclass lording it over the struggling masses, who are steadily ground down to despair. The middle class, ‘our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table,’ Webb maintained, while promising to address the ‘economic imbalance in our country.’

“Factually, the idea of a vanishing middle class is rubbish — populist folklore and little more. By any reasonable standard, most Americans are easily better off than they were 30 years ago — and the economy continues to hum. Yes, there is a fantastically wealthy elite — not just in corporate board rooms but in entertainment, sports, the media and several other nooks of the economy — but they are not cashing their checks at the expense of the rest of us.”

Don’t get fresh

“Among the things attendees at this morning’s National Journal/NBC post-[State of the Union] breakfast learned was that it is no longer politically correct in the House Dem caucus to refer to the newly elected members from ‘06 as ‘freshmen,’ ” the Hotline reports.

“How did we learn this? House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn referred to the ‘freshmen’ and then corrected himself and then went on to admit the new policy. Freshman, er newly elected Rep.Jason Altmire [Pennsylvania Democrat] told the crowd that he ‘suspected’ it had something to do with the word ‘new’ being more appealing to the public than ‘freshman,’ which can be seen by some as derogatory. So there ya go!”

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

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