- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

Sundered coalition

“What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration,” Peggy Noonan writes at www. OpinionJournal.com.

“They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker — ‘At this point the break became final.’ That’s not what’s happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party, but for the American future,” Miss Noonan said.

“The White House doesn’t need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don’t even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

“For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered-wife syndrome. You don’t like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don’t like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

“But on immigration it has changed from ‘Too bad’ to ‘You’re bad.’ ”

Murtha’s judgment

Influential House Democrat Rep. John P. Murtha said he is “absolutely convinced” the surge in Iraq has failed, and that he has “lost confidence” in many of America’s military leaders.

“I’m absolutely convinced right now the surge isn’t working,” the Pennsylvania congressman told ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “And I’m convinced that if they don’t pay attention to what I’m saying and a lot of other members of Congress are saying, they’re going to have a disaster on their hands.”

When asked about the upcoming September report from Gen. David Petraeus, Mr. Murtha appeared to question the widely respected general’s credibility.

“I’ve lost a lot of confidence in many of the military leaders. Because they say what the White House wants them to say,” Mr. Murtha said.

“Including General Petraeus?” Mr. Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well, I’m waiting to see what he has to say,” Mr. Murtha said. “But I am absolutely convinced there has been this overly optimistic picture of what’s going on in Iraq.”

Mr. Murtha added that he is also “absolutely convinced” that America’s presence in Iraq is to blame for recently foiled terrorist plots inside the United States.

“Our presence in Iraq, our occupation of Iraq gives these people the inspiration,” he said. “Now, we didn’t have this kind of a problem before. They came from Afghanistan, but now we even have it in the United States. So I’m absolutely convinced that this is the kind of thing that inspires these people.”

Friends of Fred

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke to nearly 800 Tennessee Republicans in Nashville on Saturday — but all the buzz was about former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s possible presidential run.

“Fred 08” stickers were passed out by Mr. Thompson supporters before the annual Statesmen’s Dinner, and Mr. Romney didn’t ignore the pro-Thompson sentiment.

“I know there’s been some speculation among Republicans about a certain former senator from Tennessee getting into the presidential race … but I feel great comfort in the fact that no one in this room, not a single person, will be voting for Al Gore.”

“We’re going to be giving [Mr. Romney] a warm southern Tennessee welcome,” Chris Devaney, executive director of the state Republican Party, said before the speech. “We certainly appreciate him coming to Tennessee to be part of our fundraiser. But Fred Thompson will probably be on the minds of many attending the event.”

Both Mr. Devaney and state party Chairman Bob Davis once worked on Mr. Thompson’s Senate staff, the Associated Press reports.

It matters now

Former Sen. Fred Thompson continued laying the groundwork over the weekend for a presidential run, telling the Associated Press in an interview that the country faces different challenges now than it did when he spurned overtures to run for president in 2000.

“I think that everybody was kind of sitting back, taking it easy and thinking that, you know, peace and prosperity were going to kind of last forever. I think we know better than that now,” the former Tennessee senator said.

“We live in a more dangerous [time of] things that threaten our very existence, things that threaten our peace, things that threaten our economic stability.”

In an interview Saturday night before speaking to the Virginia Republican Party, Mr. Thompson would not talk in detail about why he thinks he might make a good president or what his priorities would be. “I’d do lots of things,” he said, declining to elaborate.

During his 1994-2003 Senate tenure, he was considered a reliably conservative vote, but he had few significant legislative achievements and established a reputation as a less-than-hard worker.

“That’s one rap that you can cure,” Mr. Thompson said.

When pressed, he struggled to name his greatest accomplishment in the Senate. He said he managed the homeland security bill in the full Senate and added: “There were a lot of things. … It doesn’t always have to do with putting your name on a piece of legislation. There was an awful lot of bad legislation that I helped to stop for one thing.”

But, he said with a smile, “We’ll have a chance to get into all that when I start telling everybody what a wonderful person I am. But we’re not quite at that stage.”

What terror?

Charles Johnson at the Little Green Footballs blog (https://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog) had too much fun over the weekend, documenting the profanity-laced reactions at Daily Kos to the indictment of four men tied to Guyana and Trinidad on charges of plotting to blow up the fuel lines that supply John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

But he noted that the profanity of “the Kos Kidz” was not aimed at the terrorism suspects, but the government.

“I don’t believe the latest terrorist plot [expletive],” wrote the Kos contributor “Ghost of Godwin.” “If this ever goes to trial, and if they show actual evidence that these guys they arrested weren’t just talking trash, I’ll admit I was wrong … [but] why is it so hard to have a little bit of skepticism when faced with constant lies produced out of D.C. … how dumb do you have to be to believe the U.S. government at this point? The U.S. government has zero credibility.”

“The so-called terrorist ‘plot’ was never beyond the planning stage, which could mean anything, like: ‘But officials told NBC News the alleged conspirators never acquired explosives, never had a definitive plan, and no attack was ever imminent. In fact, two federal officials describe the group as long on anger but short on everything else.’ ”

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

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