- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2008

Slings and arrows

“Hillary [Clinton] cannot be knocked out even if she loses all the early primaries,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in the New York Post.

“Her berth in the finals is assured by her national standing, her strength among ‘super delegates’ (congressmen, senators, governors and state party chairmen who automatically get votes at the convention) and her financial clout. But she can and will be bloodied,” the writers said.

“Meanwhile, if [Barack] Obama wins in New Hampshire, particularly if he does so by a convincing margin (which we think is likely) he will probably go on to sweep Nevada and South Carolina, the other two early primaries. His status as front-runner will be solidified — and that’s where his troubles will start.

“Once Hillary is no longer in the dock, undergoing the scrutiny of being a front-runner, Obama will have to endure the slings and arrows. Hillary will probably play the race card. Not overtly and not directly, but she will speak in code saying that Obama can’t win. What that really means is that a black cannot prevail in 2008 in the United States. We, presumably, aren’t ready. …

“Obama and Hillary will go to the mat in Florida and, a week later, in New York and California. Who will win? It’s anybody’s guess.”

Cracked coalition

“Iowa Republicans went to the polls [Thursday], and pity those who thought they were merely choosing a presidential nominee. Turns out they were taking a mallet to the modern frame of the Grand Old Party,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“Or so goes the thinking of certain pundits and political gurus, who’ve taken the fractured state of today’s Republican race as evidence the Reagan coalition is dead. The party is shrinking, its groups flying off in all directions, they say. ‘It’s gone,’ says Ed Rollins, the former Reagan adviser and current Mike Huckabee muse. ‘The breakup of what was the Reagan coalition — social conservatives, defense conservatives, anti-tax conservatives — it doesn’t mean a whole lot to people anymore.’ It’s time for something new, these people say. Though don’t ask them what.

“Or don’t even bother, argue New Republic editor John B. Judis and think-tanker Ruy Teixeira, who claim it is simply too late for Republicans: The country is plodding toward a new era of Democratic rule. ‘Political, ideological, demographic and economic trends are all leading toward durable Democratic majorities in Congress, control of most statehouses and, very possibly, the end of the decades-old GOP hammerlock on the Electoral College,’ they wrote recently.

“True, the GOP is flailing. Congressional Republicans were tossed out for loss of principles. The nation is uncertain about President Bush’s aggressive foreign policy and its mixed results in Iraq. Demographics hold big challenges. Tensions have flared among the party’s wings. And, while the nomination race has churned up capable folk, none have so far demonstrated the force to calm the waters.

“Yet the reports of the Reagan-coalition death are exceedingly premature,” the columnist said.

“Put aside last year’s bum election, and you’re left with two recent successful presidential victories. By next year, the GOP will have held the White House for 20 of the past 28 years; Republicans only recently capped 12 years of uninterrupted House rule. A coalition that strong, with that many successes, built on deeply felt ideals, doesn’t just fizzle in a few years.”

Grudge match

“If you think things got a bit testy between John McCain and Mitt Romney during the ABC News debate here at St. Anselm College Saturday night, you didn’t see the half of it,” Byron York writes from Manchester, N.H.

“After the debate, when top campaign aides and surrogates came to the Spin Room to tout their candidates’ performances, members of the Romney and McCain camps said the things their bosses might have been thinking but did not dare utter onstage,” Mr. York said.

“McCain delivered ‘cheap shots,’ said one Romney adviser. Another called McCain’s criticisms of Romney ‘snide remarks’ and ‘name calling.’ Yet another said they were ‘unbecoming.’ All of which caused Mark Salter, McCain’s closest aide, to go off.

“ ’Come on, Mitt, tighten up your chin strap,’ Salter, standing just a few feet away from the Romney team, told reporters. ‘Of all the ludicrous suggestions — Mitt Romney whining about being attacked, when he has predicated an entire campaign plan on whoever serially looks like the biggest challenger gets, whatever, $20 million dropped on his head and gets his positions distorted. Give me a break. It’s nothing more than a guy who dishes it out from 30,000 feet altitude and then gets down in the arena and somebody says, OK, Mitt,” gives him a little pop back, and he starts whining. That’sunbecoming.’ ”

Bonner’s new job

Robert C. Bonner, a former federal judge and U.S. attorney who also headed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration, has been named a senior principal of the Sentinel HS Group, a homeland security consulting firm in Vienna, Va.

Sentinel HS President and CEO Brian Goebel announced the appointment today, saying, “We know our clients will benefit from his counsel on the intersection of homeland security, international trade, immigration and customs issues.

Mr. Goebel formerly served as Mr. Bonner’s counselor and senior policy adviser at CBP.

The Sentinel HS Group provides advice and assistance on homeland security matters to the private and public sectors in the United States and abroad. Its professional services touch on virtually all facets of homeland security, with a particular emphasis on border and supply-chain security, international trade and travel, customs, immigration, transportation and intelligence.

New profession

“Way back in 1991, NBC’s Arthur Kent, in all his TV good looks, won the title ‘Scud Stud’ for his missile-dodging Gulf War reporting. Now he’s back in the news, only this time he’s the one firing the shots,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Kent tells us that he’s running for a seat in the Alberta, Canada, legislative assembly, representing part of Calgary. ‘I enjoyed being a reporter,’ says Kent, ‘but I always wondered what I would do if I was at the table.’ He may soon know. He has been picked as the district’s Progressive Conservative candidate. ‘I’m very much a centrist,’ he says. Being the Scud Stud helps. ‘It’s a wonderful thing to be recognized in your own hometown.’ ”

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

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