Tuesday, February 26, 2008


“Last October, a reporter asked Barack Obama why he had stopped wearing the American flag lapel pin that he, like many other public officials, had been sporting since soon after September 11. Obama could have responded that his new-found fashion minimalism was no big deal. What matters, obviously, is what you believe and do, not what you wear,” William Kristol writes in the New York Times.

“But Obama chose to present his flag-pin removal as a principled gesture. ‘You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.’

“Leave aside the claim that ‘speaking out on issues’ constitutes true patriotism. What’s striking is that Obama couldn’t resist a grandiose explanation. Obama’s unnecessary and imprudent statement impugns the sincerity or intelligence of those vulgar sorts who still choose to wear a flag pin. But moral vanity prevailed. He wanted to explain that he was too good — too patriotic! — to wear a flag pin on his chest,” Mr. Kristol said.

Voucher study

A Milwaukee school-choice program — the nation’s first urban school-voucher program — benefits many but not all Wisconsin taxpayers, is composed primarily of religious schools, and shows students performing at academic levels comparable to similar public-school students, new research shows.

The findings — released yesterday by researchers at the University of Arkansas, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Westat, a contract research organization based in Rockville, Md. — form the basis of what will be a comprehensive five-year study of the program, which is the largest of its kind and serves low-income K-12 students.

Among the findings, researchers estimate the Milwaukee choice program saved the state of Wisconsin $25 million last year but that savings weren’t evenly distributed among taxpayers — property taxpayers outside of Milwaukee saw sizable fiscal benefits from the program’s existence, while Milwaukee property owners ended up paying higher taxes.

“The private schools in the choice program educated students for less public money than would have been spent on them in public schools, but the sizable savings to Wisconsin taxpayers were not universal,” said Robert M. Costrell, a University of Arkansas education professor and one of the report’s authors.

Straight talk?

Sen. John McCain said yesterday that to win the White House, he must convince a war-weary country that U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding. If he can’t, “then I lose. I lose,” the likely Republican nominee said.

He quickly backed off that remark, the Associated Press reports.

“Let me not put it that stark,” Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus in Ohio. “Let me just put it this way: Americans will judge my candidacy first and foremost on how they believe I can lead the county both from our economy and for national security. Obviously, Iraq will play a role in their judgment of my ability to handle national security.”

“If I may, I’d like to retract ‘I’ll lose.’ But I don’t think there’s any doubt that how they judge Iraq will have a direct relation to their judgment of me, my support of the surge,” he added. “Clearly, I am tied to it to a large degree.”

Another Romney

Josh Romney, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, says he’s considering a run for Congress in November.

The younger Mr. Romney told the Deseret Morning News, a Utah newspaper, that after a year of campaigning across the country for his father, he’s been approached to run as a Republican against Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat.

“I haven’t ruled it out,” Mr. Romney, 32, said of becoming a candidate. “I’m pretty young, but I’ve had good experience on the campaign trail.” Plus, he said, he likely could count on his father’s supporters in Utah.

Josh Romney is the only one of the family’s five sons who lives in Utah. His father, who served as the head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, was considered a “favorite son” presidential candidate in Utah.

No quit in him

An Arizona congressman yesterday vowed to remain in office through the end of his term as he fights corruption charges, saying he will not “take on the cloak of guilt,” the Associated Press reports.

An indictment unsealed Friday contends that Rep. Rick Renzi, a three-term Republican congressman, engineered a swap of federally owned mining land to benefit himself and a former business partner.

“I will not resign and take on the cloak of guilt, because I am innocent,” Mr. Renzi said through his press office in Washington. He added his attorneys will handle the accusations against him as he continues to serve his constituents.

Mr. Renzi announced Aug. 23 that he wouldn’t run for re-election in Arizona’s mostly rural 1st Congressional District.

In all, Mr. Renzi faces 35 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, insurance fraud and extortion. His arraignment is scheduled for March 6. Convictions on the most serious charges carry up to 20 years in prison.

Pep talk

President Bush predicted yesterday that voters will replace him with a Republican president who will “keep up the fight” in Iraq, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m confident we’ll hold the White House in 2008,” Mr. Bush told donors at the Republican Governors Association annual dinner, which raised a record $10.6 million for the party’s gubernatorial candidates.

He said Republicans still offer the bedrock positions that voters embrace: strong defense, low taxes and personal freedoms.

“When I say I’m confident, I am so because I understand the mentality of the American people,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind, with your help, 2008 is going to be a great year.”

On Iraq, Mr. Bush pledged to use his remaining time in office to make whatever decisions are needed to “make sure that we succeed in Iraq.”

“I believe the American people understand that success in Iraq is necessary for the long-term security of the American people,” he said. “And we will elect somebody to the White House who will keep up the fight to make sure Iraq is secure and free.”

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

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