- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fawning media

“Nothing in the hysteria over last week’s Democratic debate — including the unprecedented opprobrium press critics heaped on the ABC moderators — should have come as any surprise,” Dorothy Rabinowitz writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“That doesn’t make it any less fascinating a guide to current strange notions of what is and is not a substantive issue in a presidential contest, or any less striking an indicator of the delicate treatment Mr. Obama’s media following have come to consider his just due,” the columnist said.

“Moderators Charles Gibson’s and George Stephanopoulos‘ offense was to ask questions Mr. Obama didn’t want to address. Worse, they’d continued to press them even when the displeased candidate assured them these were old and tired questions.

• ” ’Akin to a federal crime … new benchmarks of degradation,’ The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg declared, of the debate.

• ” ’Despicable. … slanted against Obama,’ Washington Post critic Tom Shales charged.

• ”A ‘disgusting spectacle,’ the New York Times’ David Carr opined.

• ”The questions had ‘disgraced democracy itself,’ according to columnist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News.

“The uproar is the latest confirmation of the special place Mr. Obama holds in the hearts of a good part of the media, a status ensured by their shared political sympathies and his star power. That status has in turn given rise to a tendency to provide generous explanations, and put the best possible gloss on missteps and utterances seriously embarrassing to Mr. Obama.”

Better argument

“Forget delegates and the popular vote for the Democratic presidential nomination. The most important thing Hillary Clinton gained by winning the Pennsylvania primary [Tuesday] was a better argument — indeed, a much better argument,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weekly standard.com.

“Chances are, Clinton will trail Obama in the delegate count when the primaries end on June 3, as she does now. And while she may cut into his lead in the popular vote in the Democratic contests, she’s not likely to exceed his vote total. So the only way she can capture the nomination is by convincing roughly 300 uncommitted super-delegates that Obama cannot defeat Republican John McCain in November but she can,” Mr. Barnes said.

“This isn’t an easy case to make, especially with the super-delegates who will provide the margin of victory for whoever captures the 2,025 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. And at the moment, they appear strongly inclined to back Obama if he leads in delegates when the primary season is finished.

“But after Pennsylvania, Clinton’s argument that she’s a stronger opponent against McCain will be impossible to ignore or dismiss. And it’s not just because Clinton was outspent by nearly 3-to-1 by Obama and got tougher coverage from the media, yet trounced him by a substantial margin in a state that the Democratic presidential nominee must win in November.

“The key was how she won in Pennsylvania. She clobbered him among the voting blocs that are critical to a Democratic victory: union households, women, Catholics, working class and downscale voters, and those who didn’t attend college.”

Yes, she can

A woman suspected of placing hoax calls to trigger a raid on a polygamist sect’s ranch and the largest child custody case in Texas history has political interests, too.

Rozita Swinton was a Barack Obama delegate at Colorado’s state Democratic convention, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

“After the El Paso County Democratic caucuses and convention, she was named one of the 360 delegates to the state convention at the World Arena on May 17, chosen to support Barack Obama. El Paso County Democratic Chairman John Morris said he and other party organizers did not know Swinton,” the Gazette reports.

“Swinton made national news last week when she was investigated by Texas Rangers in connection to the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, where 416 children have been removed amid allegations of sexual abuse in the polygamist compound. Texas authorities said her hoax calls may have tipped them off to what was going on at the compound, in part because of items found in her home during a search.

“She was arrested [last week] in Colorado Springs on separate accusations of false reporting.”

Close call

“In yet another alarming sign for the GOP’s prospects this fall, [on Tuesday] night Democrats came within an inch of stealing one of the most Republican districts in the Deep South,” Reid Wilson writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“In the special election to replace now-Senator Roger Wicker in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, Democrat Travis Childers fell just 400 votes short of the 50 percent plus one mark, which would have avoided a runoff and won the seat outright,” Mr. Reid said.

“Still, Democrats are ecstatic that their candidate won 2,000 more votes overall than the Republican candidate, Southaven Mayor Greg Davis. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Childers won 49.4 percent to Davis’ 46.3 percent. Furthermore, when Childers’ vote total is combined with the votes from the other Democrat on the ballot [Tuesday], Steve Holland, Democratic candidates garnered 50.6 percent.

“That’s no small feat in a district that should have been an easy save for the GOP; Wicker won his first election in 1994 with 63 percent of the vote and only dipped below the two-thirds mark in the 2006 election, when he won 66 percent. President Bush won the area, based in the northwest quadrant of the state, with 62 percent in 2004, a 25-point margin.”

The runoff will be held on May 13.

Gas war

House Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble over the nation’s skyrocketing gasoline prices.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, introduced legislation yesterday to force the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, to reveal details of a 2006 campaign pledge to lower gas prices.

“Two years ago this week, Speaker Pelosi promised the American people that the Democrats had a ‘common-sense plan’ to lower rising gas prices,” Mr. Boehner said.

The minority leader noted that average gas prices have increase about $1.20 per gallon since the California Democrat became speaker in January 2007.

“This ‘Pelosi Premium’ is putting the squeeze on American families and small businesses who want meaningful action from Congress, not empty campaign promises or hollow legislation that has no real impact on the price of gasoline,” he said.

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

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