- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Now that’s irony

“It is highly ironic that the father of campaign-finance reform would emerge as the presumptive Republican nominee only to find himself embroiled in a controversy over whether he violated the kind of strict regulations he long championed. But that is exactly where John McCain finds himself,” Philip Klein writes at www.spectator.org.

“The details of the controversy may be enough to make election lawyers swoon and most normal people nod off, but they are worth wading through because they provide yet another reminder of why the overregulated campaign-finance system is absurd and needs to be scrapped,” Mr. Klein said.

“Last year, when McCain was struggling to remain a viable candidate, he applied to be part of the public financing system, which offers cash-strapped candidates the opportunity to use taxpayer money to fund their campaigns (among other benefits), but has the drawback of crippling spending restrictions.

“As McCain racked up victories in early primaries, he no longer had use for public financing. The day after he all but clinched the nomination on Super Tuesday, his campaign sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission in an attempt to withdraw from the system.

“The Democratic National Committee on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging McCain’s right to leave the system, arguing that even though he never received federal money, he still derived benefits from his special status.

“If McCain is locked into the system, he will be limited to spending a total of $54 million until he formally receives the nomination at September’s Republican National Convention. Since he already has spent roughly $50 million, he would effectively be handcuffed for six months.

“So conservatives who enjoy seeing McCain suffer a campaign finance-induced headache are in the unenviable position of siding with DNC chairman Howard Dean.”

The ‘L word’

At least one TV network finds that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is indeed a liberal, the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org

“ABC News sent Terry Moran to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, to explore Barack Obama’s record as a state senator and, deep in his Monday story on ‘World News,’ Moran acknowledged a reality rarely mentioned in network campaign coverage: ‘Obama was … considered a reliable liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, voting for most gun control measures, opposing efforts to ban so-called partial-birth abortions, and supporting hundreds of tax increases.’ Moran then showed a sound bite of Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who declared: ‘Senator Obama certainly is a liberal.’

“Earlier in the story, without applying any liberal label, Moran trumpeted how ‘before he left for Washington, Obama did rack up some accomplishments — a major overhaul of the state’s death penalty system, an ethics reform bill, expanded health care for the state’s children.’

“Moran’s recognition of Obama’s liberal ideology aired just a day after Cokie Roberts, in the roundtable on Sunday’s ‘This Week’ on ABC, pegged Obama as ‘squarely on the left of the Democratic Party’ and contended that the Illinois senator, ‘oddly enough, given the rhetoric, has not reached across the aisle and worked with people in the other party to get things done, which [rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton] has done.’ ”

Inouye apologizes

Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, has apologized for suggesting that Sen. Barack Obama’s private high school in Hawaii was elitist.

Mr. Inouye said before his state’s Feb. 19 Democratic caucuses that voters know Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii and graduated from one of its high schools, “but he went to Punahou, and that was not a school for the impoverished.”

“To suggest that Punahou maybe set his life plan in place, I find it very interesting,” Mr. Inouye said.

Mr. Inouye is backing Mr. Obama’s presidential rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Inouye apologized in a letter to the president of the Punahou School, said Jennifer Sabas, his chief of staff. The letter was sent to Punahou President James Scott late last week, she said. A copy and a short note were delivered to Mr. Obama as well, she added.

“It was just a misstatement. It was never the intent to disparage Punahou in any way. It is without a doubt one of the finest schools in our nation.”

‘Forgotten war’

Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged lawmakers to increase money and troops in Afghanistan to combat security threats yesterday following a trip to Asia.

“Afghanistan is the forgotten war. Pakistan is the neglected frontier,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and Mr. Biden, Delaware Democrat, discussed their recent trip with Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, to the war-torn regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a press conference at the Capitol. Mr. Hagel was unable to attend, reports Harrison Keely of The Washington Times.

“This [region] is, as it always has been, the central front in the war on terror,” Mr. Kerry said, stating that the two countries were not receiving the resources they deserved.

In the hospital

Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia was hospitalized yesterday after complaining of back pain after a fall at his home, spokesman Jesse Jacobssaid.

Mr. Byrd, 90, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the longest-serving senator in history, was staying overnight at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for observation, Mr. Jacobs said. It was not clear last night whether he had suffered broken bones, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Jacobs said the senator fell at his Virginia home Monday night. He came to his office yesterday and was on the Senate floor to vote for an Indian health bill. But after noticing he was wincing in pain, Mr. Byrd’s staff recommended that he see the Capitol physician, who “smartly, for a 90-year-old man, advised him to go to Walter Reed for observation.”

Mr. Byrd, who as Senate president pro tempore is third in line to the presidency, walks haltingly with two canes. Due to his frail condition, some Senate Democrats reportedly explored ways to replace him as Appropriations chairman, but he continues to hold the post.

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

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