- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ill-considered verb

“Can Bill and Hillary achieve Restoration by exploiting Cling-gate?” Philadelphia Inquirer political reporter Dick Polman said yesterday at dickpolman.blogspot.com.

“Perhaps the small-town burghers and downscale workers of Pennsylvania will answer that question when they vote in the primary eight days hence. But, until then, all we can do is speculate — and marvel at the notion that the outcome of this Democratic death march might actually hinge on a single ill-considered verb,” Mr. Polman said.

He added: “Hillary will take it to him during the debate on Wednesday night, probably in the first 10 minutes (unless they reprise the traditional opening spat over who has the better health insurance plan). …

“Obama screwed up badly during that fundraiser in San Francisco. But it’s the successful politician who bounces back from adversity, aided by outsize powers of persuasion. He tried out a few lines [Sunday] night, and no doubt there will be more. We’ll soon see whether Obama has the gift that saved Bill Clinton from Bimbo-gate in 1992.”

Vacant slots

“Partisan politics has brought Washington a ‘Home Alone’ government, in which more than 200 nominees for the judicial and executive branches are waiting for Senate confirmation,” including two vacancies on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board, John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“Foot-dragging in filling judicial vacancies is a growing problem. President Clinton got a Republican-controlled Senate to confirm 15 of his appellate court nominees in his final two years in office. So far, the Democratic Senate has confirmed only seven Bush nominees. It is sitting on 10 more, apparently waiting to run out the clock on the administration, and never mind that seven of the remaining vacancies have been deemed ‘judicial emergencies,’ ” Mr. Fund said.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission has only three out of five commissioners. The National Labor Relations Board [has] two members and three empty seats, so that, according to former Chairman John Raudebaugh, it can handle ‘only cases that have no issues.’ The Consumer Products Safety Commission has only two of its five commissioners on the job at a time when public concern about lead-tainted toys is acute. Three key positions at the State Department, including the undersecretary for arms control, remain unconfirmed. Acting officials fill vacant slots at State and other agencies, but they are limited in their roles and often ignored by career bureaucrats who refuse to take them seriously.

“The most ridiculous case is the Federal Election Commission, which has had only two out of six members since January. That’s when Democrats balked at confirming Hans von Spakovsky, who had served on the FEC for two years. Sen. Barack Obama put his nomination on hold for years because Mr. von Spakovsky, as a Justice Department official, supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID. So much for Mr. Obama’s call to transcend partisanship.”

Obama’s rappers

Jeremiah Wright is not the only supporter Barack Obama needs to explain,” Evan Gahr writes in a blog at www.humanevents.com.

“Although the media has finally exposed Barack Obama’s ties to the unhinged pastor, his support from rappers who propagate equally pernicious nonsense has gone almost entirely unnoticed,” Mr. Gahr said.

“The rappers have good reason to praise Obama. He has at times been an apologist for their ‘music.’ His complicity with rappers dates back to at least 2006.

“Late that year, he met with the rap giant Ludacris in his Chicago office. Ludacris, whom Pepsi dropped as a spokesman in 2004 after Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly exposed his putrid lyrics, said afterwards that Obama felt like family to him. In March 2007, Ludacris … headlined an Obama fundraiser in Atlanta. …

“Obama thus far has equivocated on rappers. He has criticized their language, but adamantly refused to denounce the whole sordid genre as the unique cultural problem that it is.

“ ’I haven’t just singled out rappers,’ Obama told Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference last year, according to the New York Observer. ‘I’ve said I’ve heard those words [used by rappers] around the kitchen table in some homes. I hear them in the barbershop. I hear them on the basketball court. All of us have been complicit in diminishing ourselves.’

“Obama here relies on the pro-forma defense of rap music. Yes, apologists say, it’s racist and sexist, but it only reflects the racism and sexism of society.”

‘Colbert bump’

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is hoping the “Colbert bump” will help propel her to victory in Pennsylvania.

The Democratic presidential hopeful is making her first appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” on Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

Both Mrs. Clinton and the show’s host, Stephen Colbert, have come to Pennsylvania ahead of the state’s hard-fought Democratic primary on April 22.

Mrs. Clinton’s rival, Sen. Barack Obama, also is in Pennsylvania, but he is declining the show’s invitation. His wife, Michelle Obama, will appear on the show today.

‘Scorched earth’

“By cynically twisting Obama’s comments about small-town voters in a way that confirms every right-wing demagogic caricature of her own party, Hillary Clinton has adopted the frames, lies, stereotypes and destructive cliches long embraced by the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, Arianna Huffington writes at www.huffingtonpost .com.

“She has clearly decided that the road to victory runs through scorched earth. The question is, if she succeeds, what kind of party will she be left to lead? She’s burning down the village to save it — or to prove that she would make the best fire chief. But the village won’t be saved; only one house will be left standing. A house with room for just two occupants: Hill and Bill.”

Pat on the back

“How, exactly, can Arianna Huffington brag that Obama’s description of what ails ‘bitter’ small-town Pennsylvanians were ‘broken here on HuffPost’s OffTheBus’ and then moments later attack Hillary for ‘relentlessly using these comments for political gain’?” Jim Geraghty writes at campaignspot.nationalreview.com.

“Isn’t she basically arguing, ‘Obama’s comments are really big news … that are completely inappropriate for her to comment on!’

“Nonetheless, when she and Jay Rosen announced OffTheBus, I was among the skeptics who expected nothing but relentless cheerleading for the Democratic candidate from the left. But by showcasing a comment that reinforces all kinds of negative memes about Obama, that batters him in small-town Pennsylvania, and that will make valuable fodder for [Republican Sen. John] McCain in the general election, I have to admit … nice job, Arianna.”

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

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