- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2008

‘Rancid’ tone

“Which of these descriptions is correct?” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin asks.

“No. 1: The campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain is off to a great start. It is refreshing to see candidates keep their promises to run positive, substantive races.

“No. 2: The campaign is already a distressing example of negative-politics-as-usual. Each day brings withering attacks and counterattacks as both candidates break their promises to wage a different kind of contest.

“If you picked No. 2, you got it. You’re probably also disgusted with the squabbling between two men who crossed their hearts and pledged to be different,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“They’ve been different in only one way: They started attacking early and show no signs of letting up. By November, America could be sick of them.

“Part of the turn-off is that the presidential campaign is already the longest in history. After a year of run-up to the primaries, five months of actual voting was exhilarating at times, but ultimately exhausting for candidates and voters.

“We needed a break, and I thought we would get it. After Obama won his epic battle over Hillary Clinton, the time was right for a lull before the sprint to the conventions and the general election. Instead, the tone between Obama and McCain instantly turned rancid and has stayed that way.”

Rest in peace

“Listen closely to all those cheers for newly crowned nominee Barack Obama, and in the background you’ll catch the notes of a funeral march. Resting, if not in peace, are the New Democrats,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“The Illinois senator’s primary victory marked the end of many things, and one looks to be his party’s 20-year experiment with ideological centrism. The New Dems are still out there, still urging their party to fight its natural liberal instincts. But who’s listening? Buoyed by the Republican implosion, wild for their retro nominee, the intellectual soul of the Democratic Party is now firmly left,” the writer said.

“The New Democrats were born in the 1980s, in response to Ronald Reagan‘s triumphs. Prominent Democrats worried the party was out of touch, and created the Democratic Leadership Council. Its members were foreign-policy hawks, unafraid of cultural conservatism, and preached economic centrism. Their poster boy: Bill Clinton.

“The 1990s were their midlife heyday, though even then the New Dems struggled. Party liberals despised Mr. Clinton’s embrace of free trade, hated his accommodation of welfare reform, cringed when he pronounced ‘the era of big government’ over. But no one could deny his success at giving the party its first two full terms in the White House since FDR. So they shut up and went along.

“When Mr. Clinton left, so did the most prominent New Democratic voice. Party liberals have been reasserting control ever since. Howard Dean‘s 2004 consolation prize was the Democratic National Committee. Nancy Pelosi became House Speaker in 2006, and gave back committee chairs to the old 1960s liberal bulls. And now comes Mr. Obama, the party’s most liberal nominee since Hubert Humphrey [in 1968].”

Angry lefties

At least some left-wingers are apoplectic over Sen. Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that he will vote in favor of renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Mr. Obama previously had vowed to filibuster the FISA legislation if it prevented lawsuits against phone companies that had acceded to Bush administration requests to monitor U.S.-overseas conversations involving terrorism suspects. However, Mr. Obama now says he will support a bill that does just that.

“We’ll include Barack Obama in the mix of politicians that apparently think all you who were following the FISA debates are as dumb as day-old pill bugs, and it’s depressing as hell to have to do so,” wrote “Hunter,” the nom de blog of Mike Lazzaro at the popular left-wing Daily Kos (https://hunter.dailykos.com/).

“He may be the Democratic nominee, but he can still write a milquetoast, self-congratulatory justification for choosing the easy way out with the best of them,” Hunter said.

Many liberals and a few conservatives have depicted the warrantless surveillance program as nothing more than an excuse by an immoral administration to spy on every man, woman, child and dog in the country.

“That’s what this entire, months-long parade of panic, bluster and torn hair has been about,” Hunter said. That the administration could not “be asked to show two sentences of probable cause to a judge in a secret hearing before collecting whatever electronic information about you, your neighbors, your family, your friends, everyone in your town, everyone in your social organizations, everyone in every restaurant you’ve ever been to, etc., etc., etc.

“And if you object to it, then even Barack Obama will hold the threat of imminent terror over your head as justification for why we should ignore past violations of constitutional rights and declare a massive, flag-waving, star-spangled do over that simply declares there’s no more problem.”

Sting like a bee

The white Catholic priest who mocked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as a racist now wants to face Joe Frazier and George Foreman (or whoever their political equivalents might be).

The Rev. Michael Pfleger returned Sunday to his Chicago parish, after a short suspension. He told a cheering congregation at St. Sabina’s that he will not “play it safe or become silent,” nor will he “run and hide,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

And the ushers at St. Sabina handed out fliers Sunday with a silhouette of boxer Muhammad Ali and the words “Ain’t nothing like a comeback.”

Cardinal Francis George suspended Father Pfleger earlier this month over a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, which Sen. Barack Obama belonged to at the time. In the sermon, the priest loudly mocked Mrs. Clinton as thinking she was entitled to the Democratic presidential nomination because she is white, and he pretended to be Mrs. Clinton crying over “a black man stealing my show.”

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

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