- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama’s response

Sen. Barack Obama says he is ready if Republicans question his patriotism, reports Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times.

He was asked at a town-hall-style meeting in Ohio how he would respond to such criticism, including e-mails that point out he doesn’t put his hand over his heart when singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Mr. Obama gave an off-the-cuff answer, saying such “nonsense” will always happen in elections. He said attempts had been made to discredit his candidacy based on his “name” and false suggestions that he is a Muslim, but that “hasn’t worked out so well.”

“The reason I came to national attention was a speech in which I spoke of my love of this country,” he said.

He will respond to such accusations “with the truth,” he said. In the regard to the national anthem, where he was singing but didn’t put his hand over his heart, “that would disqualify about three-quarters of the people who have ever gone to a football game or a baseball game.”

Should Republicans make those suggestions, he said, he would remind them that they are the party “that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed,” and have supported warrantless wiretapping, among other things.

“That is a debate I am very happy to have. We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism,” he said, drawing applause.

Basic questions

Michelle Obama’s recent remark, that she is proud of her country for the first time in her adult life, focuses attention “on what I suspect are some basic and elementary questions that were starting to bubble out there anyway,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

Here are a few of them:

“Are the Obamas, at bottom, snobs? Do they understand America? Are they of it? Did anyone at their Ivy League universities school them in why one should love America? Do they confuse patriotism with nationalism, or nativism? Are they more inspired by abstractions like ‘international justice’ than by old visions of America as the city on a hill, which is how John Winthrop saw it, and Ronald Reagan and JFK spoke of it?

“Have they been, throughout their adulthood, so pampered and praised — so raised in the liberal cocoon — that they are essentially unaware of what and how normal Americans think? And are they, in this, like those cosseted yuppies, the Clintons?

“Why is all this actually not a distraction but a real issue? Because Americans have common sense and are bottom line. They think like this. If the president and his first lady are not loyal first to America and its interests, who will be? The president of France? But it’s his job to love France, and protect its interests. If America’s leaders don’t love America tenderly, who will?”

Hillary’s plight

“If Hillary Clinton wanted a graceful exit, she’d drop out now — before the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries — and endorse Barack Obama,” Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter writes.

“This would be terrible for people like me who have been dreaming of a brokered convention for decades. For selfish reasons, I want the story to stay compelling for as long as possible, which means I’m hoping for a battle into June for every last delegate and a bloody floor fight in late August in Denver. But to withdraw this week would be the best thing imaginable for Hillary’s political career. She won’t, of course, and for reasons that help explain why she’s in so much trouble in the first place,” Mr. Alter said.

“Withdrawing would be stupid if Hillary had a reasonable chance to win the nomination, but she doesn’t. To win, she would have to do more than reverse the tide in Texas and Ohio, where polls show Obama already even or closing fast. She would have to hold off his surge, then establish her own powerful momentum within three or four days. Without a victory of 20 points or more in both states, the delegate math is forbidding. In Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, the Clinton campaign did not even file full delegate slates. That’s how sure they were of putting Obama away on Super Tuesday.”

Hillary = Roseanne

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Roseanne Barr are using the same analogy to criticize the lack of experience of Sen. Barack Obama.

At a rally yesterday in Rhode Island, Mrs. Clinton said: “If you were hiring somebody for any other job, you would want to know what they did, because the best way to find out what a person will do is to find out what they’ve already done. There is no contradiction between change and experience. If you were going to be operated on by a surgeon, you would want to know what that surgeon already did.”

The doctor apparently ordered the same analogy from the self-styled “domestic goddess” for a column in the Huffington Post on Friday.

“When I fly in an airplane I want the pilot with the most experience, not the one who can inspire hope in me that I get to where I am going. … When I go to the doctor I do not want to get the one who inspires hope in me that s/he can cure what’s wrong, but the one who knows what … to do the minute I call,” she wrote.

Miss Barr went on to criticize Mr. Obama’s top female backer not named Michelle.

“When Oprah makes her employees sign her 50-page non-disclosure statement, she doesn’t ‘hope’ they can’t break it, she pays teams of experienced lawyers to MAKE SURE they can’t break it, or be sued in an experienced court by an experienced judge.”

Boosting McCain

“A couple of weeks ago, John McCain was straining to ingratiate himself with the activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference,” Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman writes.

“It was an uphill climb: By that point, some movement icons had publicly renounced the presumptive Republican nominee, and attendees were urged not to boo him. Some did anyway, and McCain was left to ponder the possibility of being abandoned by much of his party’s base,” Mr. Chapman said.

“He shouldn’t have worried. All it took to rally conservatives behind him was the intervention of The New York Times. Thursday, it published a flimsy, anonymously sourced story suggesting that nine years ago, he may have canoodled with a cute female lobbyist whose clients had business before his committee. How bad was the article? Years from now, if you type into Google, ‘Why do people hate the news media?’ this story will pop up.”

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


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