- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No joke

“Just a few weeks ago, it seemed nobody could make a joke about Barack Obama,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

The New York Times published a front-page story declaring that ‘there has been little humor’ about Obama because ‘there is no comedic “take” on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh.’ Television comedy writers fretted that audiences didn’t want to hear anything even slightly negative about the Democratic nominee. The political press corps went nuts over a satirical New Yorker cover that wasn’t even directed at Obama,” Mr. York said.

“And this was about a man who made up his own pretend presidential seal and motto, Vero Possumus; a man who, upon securing the Democratic nomination, said, ‘I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal’; a man who has on a number of occasions seemed to forget that he is not, or at least not yet, the president of the United States, who has misstated the number of states in his own country, who has forgotten on which committees he serves in the U.S. Senate. Professional comedians — and their audiences — couldn’t find anything funny about any of that?

“Now, after Obama’s world tour, there are already cracks in the Times-imposed conventional wisdom. Confronted with something of an official ban on Obama humor, there is emerging a new strain of Obama humor — zings at the candidate’s hauteur, his presumptuousness, and, especially, his most zealous admirers in the press.”

‘Middle school’

“American elections are like the U.S. educational system: The primaries are elementary school, an exciting and unpredictable start; the general election is high school, big stakes that set the future. In between, there’s middle school, an awkward, unnatural existence that prepares one for the big stage,” Albert R. Hunt writes at www.bloomberg.com.

Barack Obama is getting mostly A’s and John McCain weak C’s in middle school,” Mr. Hunt said.

“Obama’s eight-day trip to the Middle East war zones and Europe was almost perfect. The Democratic candidate looked and sounded presidential and reassuring, while avoiding missteps.

“The contrasts, often unfairly, with McCain at home were stunning. One looking vigorous in a helicopter over Iraq, the other in a golf cart with former President George H.W. Bush — 155 years of age between them.

“Not all has gone great for Obama. There has yet to emerge a clear message on what his presidency would mean. And the campaign still hasn’t reached out enough to other Democrats.

“Still, as the cliche goes, it’s better sometimes to be lucky. With some swing voters worried about race and values, Jesse Jackson attacked Obama for being too tough on blacks about their parental responsibilities. If you didn’t know Jackson, you’d think it was a set-up to help Obama.

“Meanwhile, McCain, the presumed Republican candidate, is faltering. He has misspoken, muddled his message and changed his views on issues big and small.”

School days

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have required climate change be added to schools’ curriculums.

The measure, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Joe Simitian also would have required future science textbooks to include climate change as a subject, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

In January, the state Senate approved the bill by a 26-13 vote. Only two Republicans supported the proposal.

In his veto statement, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he supported education that spotlights the dangers of climate change. However, the Republican governor said he was opposed to educational mandates from Sacramento.

“I continue to believe that the state should refrain from being overly prescriptive in specific school curriculum, beyond establishing rigorous academic standards,” he said.


“‘Hardball’ host Chris Matthews is still serious about running against Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“While allies once thought Matthews was just floating a Senate bid to help in his contract talks with MSNBC, they now tell us that he’s eager to reach out to important Pennsylvania voting groups and leaders and has even won the backing of his wife,” Mr. Bedard said.

One big concern: his nasty hit on Sen. Hillary Clinton as a ‘she-devil,’ for which he was slammed as sexist. ‘He is concerned he ruined it with the women vote,’ says an associate. So he’s drawn up a list of feminists to contact. Even so, we’re told, there’s one woman who won’t go to bat for the Democrat: Clinton.”


Sen. Barack Obama plans to travel to his native Hawaii for a fundraiser Aug. 12.

The Democrat’s presidential campaign confirmed the visit, but did not say how long he will be in the islands. The trip is the first time since Mr. Obama announced he was running that he will have visited Hawaii, where his maternal grandmother lives. Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu.

Mr. Obama has said he intends to take a weeklong vacation before the Democratic National Convention in Denver in late August.

Tickets to the fundraiser at Kahala Resort will cost $2,300 per person. Those contributing more than $10,000 may attend a private reception with the Illinois senator, the Associated Press reports.

‘Small little nick’

Republican Sen. John McCain said Monday he had had a small patch of skin removed from his face and biopsied as part of a regular checkup with his dermatologist.

“She said that I was doing fine,” Mr. McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor, told reporters on a presidential campaign visit to an oil rig near Bakersfield, Calif., where he spoke briefly about his proposed energy plan. “She took a small little nick from my cheek, as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure everything is fine.”

The Arizona senator underwent the procedure in Phoenix during a checkup he undergoes every three months. He sported a small bandage on his upper right cheek on his campaign plane but had removed it by the time he spoke with reporters. A small, dark spot stood out clearly on his face, the Associated Press reports.

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

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