- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The real Obama

“Having now left Trinity United Church of Christ, can Barack Obama escape responsibility for his decades-long ties to Michael Pfleger and Jeremiah Wright? No, he cannot,” Stanley Kurtz writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Obama’s connections to the radical-left politics espoused by Pfleger and Wright are broad and deep. The real reason Obama bound himself to Wright and Pfleger in the first place is that he largely approved of their political-theological outlooks,” Mr. Kurtz said.

“Obama shared Wright’s rejection of black ‘assimilation.’ Obama also shared Wright’s suspicion of the traditional American ethos of individual self-improvement and the pursuit of ‘middle-classness.’ In common with Wright, Obama had deep misgivings about America’s criminal justice system. And with the exception of their direct attacks on whites, Obama largely approved of his preacher-friends’ fiery rhetoric.

“Obama’s goal was not to repudiate religious radicalism, but to channel its fervor into an effective and permanent activist organization. How do we know all this? We know it because Obama himself has told us,” Mr. Kurtz said, citing a 1995 article in the Chicago Reader called “What Makes Obama Run?”

His media ‘ticket’

“On Sunday’s ‘Reliable Sources,’ CNN host Howard Kurtz ended the Scott McClellan analysis segment of his show with his own two cents,” the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham writes in the CyberAlert at www.mrc.org.

“For McClellan to turn on Bush is clearly a ticket for him to be embraced by the media,” Mr. Kurtz said. “I watched all the interviews and I’ve read all the interviews. He’s not fully been able to answer these questions. Why didn’t he speak up before, even in private? Why didn’t he resign if he was so troubled by the questions? And is he doing this for money?”

Mr. Graham also noted that former White House speechwriter David Frum, whose own Bush memoir was fairly supportive and hence was largely ignored by the media, let loose on Mr. McClellan on the same program.

“One of the things that President Bush, one of the great failures as a manager, is he put loyalty ahead of competence,” Mr. Frum said. “And Scott McClellan is proof positive. He had no business being press secretary. He was awful at the job. It was painful to watch him. He got the job because he was somebody’s deputy. And one of the ways the Bush administration works is they promote the deputy then the deputy of the deputy of the deputy and then the deputy of the deputy.”

A jaw dropper

The decision to award Sen. Barack Obama delegates in Michigan even though he was not on the ballot “surely seemed plausible to Democratic leaders trying to find a way out of their dilemma,” Thurlow Weed writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“The idea of splitting the baby in Michigan and Florida, seating the delegates while cutting their voting strength, was always a natural one, and in and of itself will cause little problem,” Mr. Weed said.

“But the Michigan decision is a jaw dropper. By setting aside election results to Hillary’s disadvantage, the [Democratic National Committee (DNC)] has saddled its likely nominee with an enraged opponent who now has every incentive to carry the fight through the summertime. Simultaneously, it has told Michigan voters that the DNC - and by extension, its nominee, Obama - is willing to set aside election results it does not like. That cannot have a positive effect on Michigan swing voters - and Obama needs to carry Michigan in the fall to have any shot at victory.

“The Clintons’ unwillingness to accept defeat is legendary. Yet the DNC has thrown sand in the face of a candidate who is already claiming sexism underlies the opposition to her campaign. Never underestimate the fury of a woman scorned, the adage goes.

“Now she can stay in the race with yet another rationale for her candidacy - she is fighting for democratic principles. And her working-class voters in Michigan will hear that message.”

‘Sweet’ interview

Sen. Barack Obama sat down with Peggy Agar Monday afternoon, granting an eight-minute exclusive interview to the woman who became known as “sweetie” when he last visited Michigan, reporter Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times writes in her “On the Democrats” blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

Miss Agar, with ABC affiliate WXYZ, made headlines in May when Mr. Obama called her “sweetie” as he brushed aside her questions about the Michigan economy.

He promised that she would get to ask her question, but faced sharp rebuke when she never got a chance. The campaign had arranged for the senator to sit down with another reporter from the station.

Mr. Obama later told her in an apology voice mail, “I expect that my press team will be happy to try to make it up to you whenever we are in Detroit next.”

Olbermann’s taxes

“Professional angry person Keith Olbermann favors tax-and-spend liberals, but he didn’t pay his own taxes,” according to the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column, which cited a Web site.

“OlbermannWatch.com reports that New York state has issued a tax warrant or judgment against the MSNBC host for $2,269.50 in back taxes owed by his personal corporation, Olbermann Broadcasting Empire Inc. Asked about the delinquency the other night by journalist Evan Gahr, the otherwise loquacious Olbermann uttered nary a word as he scurried into Trump Palace, where he bought condo apartment 40B last year, according to public records.

” ‘This was a bookkeeping disagreement between Keith’s accountants and the state, which was resolved months ago,’ an MSNBC spokesman told Page Six. Gahr was surprised to see Olbermann on foot. ‘Is the belt-tightening so severe at NBC that the peacock network can’t afford a car to take Olbermann home?’ he wondered. ‘If so, there’s a bright side for Olbermann: Nobody can call him a limousine liberal.’ ”

Byrd hospitalized

Sen. Robert C. Byrd was hospitalized Monday night at his doctor’s urging after suffering from lethargy and sluggishness at his home, his spokesman said.

Mr. Byrd, who is the longest-serving senator in history, voted during a 5:30 p.m. roll call Monday, then went home. Press secretary Jesse L. Jacobs said that less than an hour later Mr. Byrd began to feel ill, the Associated Press reports. The West Virginia Democrat was found to have a fever, and at his doctor’s request he was taken to a hospital.

Mr. Byrd, 90, was hospitalized March 5 for tests after a reaction to antibiotics. A week earlier, he was hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after a fall at home.

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

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