- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Defending Bush

Fox News journalist Chris Wallace on Monday evening defended President Bush against criticism by Hollywood filmmaker Ron Howard that the president has abused his office in a way similar to President Nixon, Jon Ward reports at www.washingtontimes.com.

“Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed purely in the interest of his own political gain,” Mr. Wallace told Mr. Howard before an audience of a few hundred after viewing the filmmaker’s new film, “Frost/Nixon,” which is about the only U.S. president to resign from office.

“I think to compare what Nixon did, and the abuses of power for pure political self-preservation, to George W. Bush trying to protect this country - even if you disagree with rendition or waterboarding - it seems to me is both a gross misreading of history, both then and now,” Mr. Wallace said.

Mr. Wallace was a member of the audience at a special preview screening of “Frost/Nixon,” which depicts the process that led to the disgraced president’s confession of failure. The screening was held at the National Geographic Society Auditorium in Washington. The movie opens nationwide Friday.

After the screening, Mr. Howard took the stage and made comments comparing Mr. Bush’s actions in office to those of Mr. Nixon.

Meanwhile, Ben Bradlee, who was executive editor of The Washington Post when that newspaper led the way in exposing Mr. Nixon’s abuses, expressed unhappiness with the film’s depiction of Mr. Nixon.

“They [the filmmakers] never should have let him apologize in the film,” he told Stephanie Green of The Washington Times after the screening. “Nixon never was sorry for what he did.”

Just say no

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, unlike many of their fellow governors, want no part of federal bailouts.

“As governors and citizens, we’ve grown increasingly concerned over the past weeks as Washington has thrown bailout after bailout at the national economy with little to show for it,” the two Republicans said Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

“In the process, the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction - toward a ‘bailout mentality’ where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions. We’re asking other governors from both sides of the political aisle to join with us in opposing further federal bailout intervention … .

“One fact that’s been continually glossed over in the bailout debate is that Washington doesn’t have money in hand for any of these proposals. Every penny would be borrowed. Estimates for what the government is willing to spend on bailouts and stimulus efforts for this year reach as much as $7.7 trillion, according to Bloomberg.com - a full half of the United States’ yearly economic output.

“With all the zeroes in the numbers, it’s no wonder Washington politicians have lost track.”

Last chance

“Amid the cold gusts of winter, Republicans will soon be ushered out of power after controlling Congress, the White House, or both for 14 years,” William Kristol writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Here’s a further chilling thought: Since 1896, with only one exception, when a party has taken over the White House, it has held it for at least eight years. The exception is the Jimmy Carter Democrats, retired after a single term in 1981. And it would be churlish to hope that Barack Obama will recapitulate the ineptitude and foolishness of the Nobel laureate from Plains,” Mr. Kristol said.

“So it could be eight years on the outside of the White House looking in for the GOP. It certainly looks like at least four years out of power in Congress as well, given the sizable Democratic margins. And the fact that Republicans will be blamed for an economy in free fall, and won’t get the credit they deserve for successes in Iraq and the broader war on terror, hardly helps the GOP’s prospects for a quick comeback.

“Can Bush do anything in his last weeks to change this dynamic? It’s hard to see how he can affect the economic narrative at this point.

“But he could do his party - and the nation - a service by reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror. He did address the achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan in a fine speech at Fort Campbell, Ky., last week, and he can do more along those lines.

“In particular, he can continue to pay tribute to the successes of the Army and the Marines on the ground, and explain that the task must be finished in both theaters.”

Still divided

The size of Barack Obama’s victory and the nature of the problems that he will confront “don’t suggest the end of division,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Obama’s 53 percent victory was a solid win, far more decisive than the last two presidential elections. But it was hardly a blowout,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“His apparent margin of 6.8 points (based on near-final numbers from CNN) was well below the true landslide margins in Richard Nixon’s and Ronald Reagan’s re-elections (23.2 points and 18.2 points, respectively), but it also was below Bill Clinton’s re-election (8.5 points). Maybe more importantly, it was significantly below Reagan’s margin over Jimmy Carter (9.6 points) and slightly below George H.W. Bush’s 7.8-point margin in the 1988 open-seat race.

“In other words, America did not ‘come together’ to elect Obama. The country was divided, and while most Americans now hope that he can solve the nation’s problems, the new president’s choices will invariably require him to make trade-offs - trade-offs that are likely to anger some, maybe many, Americans.

“While many Americans say they would like the country to come together, what they often really mean is that they would like others to change their views.

“Obama has the oratorical skills to capture the public’s attention, and the nation’s pessimism about the future actually gives the president-elect a unique opportunity to rally support.

“But unless our new president is smart enough and lucky enough to preside over the transformation of the American economy, and unless he places a higher priority on uniting the country, rather than pursing an ideological agenda, we are likely headed for more nastiness and division sooner or later.”

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

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