- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Specter’s cancer

Sen. Arlen Specter said in a statement that he has been diagnosed with an early recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease, which is a cancer of the lymph system.

The Pennsylvania Republican underwent treatment for the same type of cancer in 2005, and was later given a clean bill of health, the Associated Press reports.

The statement says the cancer was revealed in a medical scan, but he has no symptoms.

Obama’s problem

“Some liberal commentators have downplayed the effect of Barack Obama’s fundraising speech at a San Francisco fundraiser last week. But that’s wishful thinking,” the New Republic’s John B. Judis writes at www.tnr.com.

“Along with the revelations about Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright, his remarks in San Francisco will haunt him not only in the upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, but also in the general election against John McCain, assuming he gets the Democratic nomination,” Mr. Judis said.

“To win in November, a Democratic presidential candidate has to carry most of the industrial heartland states that stretch from Pennsylvania to Missouri. That becomes even more imperative if a Democrat can’t carry Florida — and because of his relative weakness in South Florida, Obama is unlikely to do so against McCain. Ruy Teixeira and I have calculated that in the heartland states, a Democratic presidential candidate has to win from 45 to 48 percent of the white working-class vote. In some states, like West Virginia and Kentucky, the percentage is well over a majority.

“Some Democrats insist that Obama need not worry about these states because he will be able to make up for a defeat in Ohio or even Pennsylvania with a victory in Virginia or Colorado. But in Virginia, McCain will be able to draw upon coastal suburbanites closely tied to the military. These voters backed Democrats like Chuck Robb and Jim Webb, who are both veterans, but they may not go for Obama. And in the Southwest, McCain will be able to challenge Obama among Hispanics.

“So to win in November, Obama will have to win almost all of these heartland states. Which is a problem, because even before he uttered his infamous words about these voters ‘clinging’ to guns, religion, abortion, and fears about free trade, Obama looked vulnerable in the region.”

Echoing Ferraro

Billionaire businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be his party’s leading candidate if he were white.

Mr. Johnson’s comments to the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. She stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last month after saying Mr. Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he were white.

“What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called ‘Jerry Smith’ and he says ‘I’m going to run for president,’ would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?” said Mr. Johnson, who is black. “And the answer is, probably not.”

“Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial … it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything.”

Mr. Johnson, who made a fortune after founding Black Entertainment Television and now owns the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, is a longtime friend of Mrs. Clinton and her husband, Bill, the former president.

Perilous territory

President George W. Bush is fond of comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. But as he meets with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Washington this week, his policy regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program looks more like something out of Bill Clinton’s or Jimmy Carter’s playbook,” John R. Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“In dealing with the Soviet Union on arms control, Reagan was famous for repeating the Russian phrase, ‘Doveryai, no proveryai‘ (trust, but verify). Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly once complained to Reagan, ‘You use that phrase every time we meet.’ To which Reagan smilingly replied, ‘That’s because I like it so much.’

“This administration appears to have forgotten that concept altogether. Although the Six-Party Talks have been sliding into dangerous territory for some time, the Bush administration has repeatedly said that North Korea’s complete, verifiable disclosure of its nuclear program was a sine qua non of any deal. No longer,” said Mr. Bolton, who served Mr. Bush in the State Department and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“Last week in Singapore, U.S. chief negotiator Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan reached a deal that rests on trust and not verification. According to numerous press reports and Mr. Hill’s April 10 congressional briefing, the U.S. will be expected to accept on faith, literally, North Korean assertions that it has not engaged in significant uranium enrichment, and that it has not proliferated nuclear technology or materials to countries like Syria and Iran.

“Indeed, the North will not even make the declaration it earlier agreed to, but merely ‘acknowledge’ that we are concerned about reports of such activities — which the United States itself will actually list. By some accounts, the North Korean statement will not even be public. In exchange for this utter nonperformance, the North will be rewarded with political ‘compensation’ (its word): Concurrent with its ‘declaration,’ it will be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and freed from the Trading With the Enemy Act.”

Frank-ly speaking

Rep. Barney Frank said the trailing Democratic presidential candidate should drop out of the race no later than June 3 — the date of the last two Democratic primaries — even if it is the candidate he supports, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Probably sooner,” the Massachusetts congressman added in an interview yesterday with the Associated Press. He suggested that the trailing candidate should drop out once it became clear that person had no remaining practical chance of winning the nomination.

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

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