- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama vs. Carter

Sen. Barack Obama yesterday criticized former President Jimmy Carter for meeting with leaders of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas as he tried to reassure Jewish voters that his candidacy isn’t a threat to them or U.S. support for Israel.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s comments, made to a group of Jewish leaders in Philadelphia, were his first on Mr. Carter’s meeting scheduled this week in Egypt, the Associated Press reports.

Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain called on Mr. Obama to repudiate Mr. Carter in a speech to the Associated Press on Monday.

Mr. Obama told the Jewish group he had a “fundamental disagreement” with Mr. Carter, who was rebuffed by Israeli leaders during a peace mission to the Middle East this week.

Obama’s ‘boss’

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may have Elton John, but Sen. Barack Obama now has “The Boss.”

Bruce Springsteen wrote on his Web site yesterday he is supporting Mr. Obama for president, reports Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times. The “Born in the USA” singer is a musical hero to many, and could give the Illinois Democrat a boost among working-class voters.

“Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest,” Mr. Springsteen told supporters.

“He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit,” Mr. Springsteen wrote, adding: “A place where ‘nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.’ ”

The rock legend lamented that “critics” have “tried to diminish” the presidential hopeful by exaggerating some of his comments and relationships.

“While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man’s life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams [From] My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment,” he wrote.

He closed his note to fans with: “Over here on E Street, we’re proud to support Obama for president.”

Old argument

Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha said yesterday that Republican Sen. John McCain is too old to be president.

Mr. Murtha is 75, four years older than Mr. McCain. He says they are nearly the same age, and the rigors and stress of running the country is too much for guys their age, the Associated Press reports.

“I’ve served with seven presidents,” Mr. Murtha told a union audience in Washington. “When they come in, they all make mistakes. They all get older.”

“This one guy running is about as old as me,” he said, drawing laughter and applause. “Let me tell you something, it’s no old man’s job.”

If elected, Mr. McCain would be the oldest man to become president, at age 72. Ronald Reagan became president at age 69, but he served as president for eight years and was just a few weeks shy of his 78th birthday when he left office.

Mr. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, made the comments while introducing the candidate he has endorsed, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the AFL-CIO’s Building Trades National Legislative Conference.

1 less nominee

“Someone get Harry Reid a handkerchief,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“On Monday, the Senate majority leader sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten lamenting the news that a Democratic nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Robert Lenhard, has withdrawn his name from consideration since the process is taking so long.

“This is yet another nail in the coffin of the campaign-finance reform movement. One of its goals has been to reduce the role of ‘money’ in elections, and thereby elevate the tenor of campaigns. Pretty much the opposite has resulted,” the newspaper said.

“Amid a campaign season, the FEC has been languishing without a quorum of commissioners to rule on election-law questions. Democrats created the FEC standoff last year by attacking the confirmation of Bush nominee Hans von Spakovsky. This has mainly increased campaign-finance partisanship, for example by elevating the clout of so-called 527 groups, which run ‘independent’ advertising on behalf of candidates.

“If you’re George Soros, that means spend now, ask questions later. Thanks to Mr. Lenhard’s untimely withdrawal, it will probably take ‘several months’ for the Democrats to find a new nominee, Mr. Reid noted soberly in his letter. This means that if there are any campaign-finance violations this year, someone will be fined for it in, oh, say, 2011.

“If Democrats really want the commission to get back to business, they should return to the protocol of confirming nominees in groups or in bipartisan pairs. Their behavior suggests what they really want is the politicized breakdown of the campaign-finance system.”

Court case

Proponents and opponents of imposing the death penalty for rape of a child underwent intense questioning yesterday from a seemingly divided Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports.

The hourlong argument came in the case of inmate Patrick Kennedy, sentenced to death for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter. Kennedy’s attorney, Jeffrey L. Fisher, told the court the death penalty for child rape under Louisiana law violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia challenged Mr. Fisher’s position that the Louisiana law is too broad and that not enough states have enacted the death penalty for child rape to justify Supreme Court support.

“The trend has been more and more states are imposing the death penalty,” Chief Justice Roberts said.

Five states have imposed the death penalty for child rape since 1995.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer expressed concern that “suddenly we will be in the business” of broadening the death penalty for crimes other than murder. No one has been executed for any other crime in 44 years.

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

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