- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

‘This is outrageous’

“Two months ago, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm one of our most decorated generals, David Petraeus, to take command in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus promised a fundamental overhaul of U.S. strategy — with a new plan that would at last correct the many mistakes we have made in this long and difficult war,” Sen. Joe Lieberman writes in USA Today.

“Since taking command, Gen. Petraeus has been true to his word. The result? Sectarian violence is down in Baghdad. The radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has fled. The Mahdi Army, which terrorized Baghdad last year, appears to be splintering. And the Iraqi government — its spine stiffened thanks to our renewed support — is taking the critical steps for political reconciliation,” said Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

“Amazingly, however, just at the moment things are at last beginning to look up in Iraq, a narrow majority in Congress has decided that it’s time to force our military to retreat. Rather than supporting Gen. Petraeus, they are threatening to strip him of the troops he says he needs and sabotage his strategy.

“This is outrageous. The deadline for retreat that Congress wants to impose is both arbitrary and inflexible. American troops would be forced to begin withdrawing regardless of conditions in Iraq, regardless of the recommendations of our military commanders and regardless of what impact a hasty retreat would have on America’s security and credibility — in short, regardless of reality.”

Comedian George

“How does ‘World News with Charles Gibson‘ do it?” Mark Lasswell asks in the Wall Street Journal.

“For the fifth time in seven weeks, the ABC newscast last week drew the biggest audience on average (8.4 million) of the three network evening-news shows. Marveling at the newscast’s ascendancy after two years of turmoil in ABC’s anchor ranks, media observers tend to dwell on the unexpected old-shoe appeal of Mr. Gibson. But there may be another explanation. Facing up to the reality that, alas, many folks like to get their news from ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,’ ABC News has added comedy to the mix,” said Mr. Lasswell, the Journal’s deputy books editor.

“How else to explain those hilarious skits when Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos reports on the brouhaha over the Justice Department’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys while the proverbial elephant in the room is lurking just off-camera?

“Mr. Stephanopoulos was the Clinton White House communications director in 1993 when the Justice Department cleaned its slate of all 93 U.S. attorneys, and he was central to the administration’s finessing of the episode — just the sort of insider experience, presumably, that prompted ABC News to hire Mr. Stephanopoulos fresh out of the White House in 1996.”

Mr. Gibson and Mr. Stephanopoulos somehow “manage not to crack up as they rake over the latest sinister developments in the fired-prosecutors ‘scandal’ without acknowledging that one of the newsmen knows a good bit more than he lets on about how these things work.”

Mr. Lasswell said that Mr. Stephanopoulos torpedoed Attorney General Janet Reno’s plan to allow U.S. attorneys in the midst of significant investigations to remain in office. Mr. Stephanopoulos also reportedly tried to get fired U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens fired again when Mr. Stephens was hired by the Resolution Trust Corp. to investigate claims stemming from the collapse of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, which was connected to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former law firm in Arkansas.

Of Mr. Stephanopoulos’ recent TV analyses, Mr. Lasswell remarked: “There hasn’t been this much stone-faced comedy in circulation since Buster Keaton’s heyday.”

Romney’s veeps

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney yesterday dropped some names of potential running mates in the 2008 race, but added that such speculation is premature.

Among those Romney mentioned for the second slot on the Republican ticket were three Southerners: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“There’s some wonderful people right here in this state, as you know, Governor Sanford being one of them,” the former Massachusetts governor said to a round of applause after being asked about vice-presidential picks by a member of a crowd of about 400 people gathered for his campaign stop in Bluffton, S.C.

“I have to be honest with you, I haven’t given a lot of thought to that, so I don’t want to put any names in that hat right now,” Mr. Romney said, but gave a nod to Mr. Bush, calling him “quite a guy.”

“I love him. If his name weren’t Bush, he’d be running for president, I’m convinced,” said Mr. Romney, who added that he also was “pretty partial” to Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the Associated Press reports.

Two-man race?

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, popular with women and young voters, tops the Republican presidential field in a Zogby International poll conducted Wednesday of likely participants in the Iowa Caucuses.

He leads by six percentage points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and for the first time former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has moved into double digits, “earning himself a position in the top tier,” the poll reported.

But the most significant finding, according to pollster John Zogby, is that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. McCain tied, with 19 percent each, when respondents were asked to pick a second choice, suggesting a two-man race at this point in the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential preference contest, Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times reports.

As first choices, Mr. Giuliani won 25 percent in the poll of 404 Iowans likely to vote in their party’s caucuses, with Mr. McCain at 19 percent and Mr. Romney at 11 percent — more than double the 5 percent he rang up in the Zogby poll last month.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, a TV and movie actor flirting with a run, won 7 percent, and Iowa neighbor Tommy G. Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and President Bush’s first Health and Human Services secretary, won 5 percent, up from 1 percent last month.

“Giuliani is popular among young voters, but the older they are, the less likely they are to pick him,” Mr. Zogby said.

“For younger voters, 9/11 is the defining moment in their lives,” Mr. Zogby told The Times. “While Rudy has had an impressive career, older voters know him warts and all.”

Democrat message

“If there’s one thing the Democrats’ budget resolution makes clear, it’s that they didn’t get the message voters tried to send to Washington last November,” Stephen Spruiell writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“They’re acting as if the American electorate, which voted against the Republicans, meant to say, ‘We liked the GOP’s incontinent spending and head-in-the-sand approach to entitlements, but we need someone who will do those things and raise our taxes.’ ”

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

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