- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

Shaking her fist

On Saturday, “Hillary Clinton exited the presidential race, pledging loyal support toBarack Obama. In reality she was shaking her fist defiantly at the victor. Her prolonged farewell, though undignified, is not hard to understand,” John O’Sullivan writes in the London Telegraph.

“Unless she bullies Obama into making her his vice-presidential candidate - which looks unlikely - she is leaving national politics as well as the 2008 campaign,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.

“Despite all the praise for her gallant uphill fight, Mrs. Clinton blew a sure thing. As the candidate of inevitability, she lost. As the candidate of competence, she won most major battleground states, but lost the nomination because her campaign failed to organize in the smaller states. As the candidate with an unrivaled Democratic Rolodex, she lost the superdelegates.”

“Even her late emergence as the friend of Joe Sixpack reflected her loss of most other Democratic constituencies rather than her recruitment of a new political base. She is a very implausible leader of a white working class that is drifting steadily towards the Republicans.”

Drilling Democrats

“Republicans finally have a winning argument on a big issue, and they’d better make the most of it. It starts with high gasoline prices - the single most infuriating issue to voters these days - but doesn’t end there,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Democrats are not being blamed for causing the price of gasoline to reach $4 a gallon, at least by the public and at least for now. Where Democrats have stumbled embarrassingly is in their campaign to persuade the public that the American oil industry is the chief culprit. A Gallup national poll in May found only 20 percent blame the oil companies for gouging, down from 34 percent a year ago,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Where Republicans have succeeded is in selling their solution to soaring gas prices: drilling for oil offshore and on federal lands, areas now off-limits. In the Gallup survey, support for drilling in precisely these areas jumped from 41 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in May.

“So Republicans have an issue to exploit. And it’s one on which Democrats are especially vulnerable because they promised in the 2006 campaign to offer a ‘common sense’ plan to curb gas prices. They have yet to produce one, and the price per gallon of gas has risen by more than $1.60 since Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007.”

An honest speech

“Echoing another dramatic moment, Hillary Clinton came not to praise Barack Obama, only to support him,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“Or maybe she was channeling consigliere Tom Hagen, who in ‘The Godfather’ famously said of a Mafia family feud: ‘This is business, not personal.’

“Whatever her muse, Clinton Saturday gave one of the most honest speeches she has ever given and perhaps the most honest we have heard in this political marathon,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“She didn’t pretend to like or admire Obama. She didn’t pretend she believes he would be a great president. She didn’t say he was right on the issues. She never said he’d be a good commander in chief or would keep America safe.”

“But she had a job to do [Saturday] and she did it. Her task was to acknowledge Obama as the party nominee, say repeatedly she was supporting him and would do everything she could to help him win. She did all that with more sincerity than a coerced prisoner of war would have mustered, but with far less passion and rhetorical gusto than a true believer would have brought to the occasion.”

No Clinton, no way

Should Sen. Barack Obama make Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton his vice presidential running mate?

“He shouldn’t, and he won’t,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The reasons:

“The only ones who could force him to do it are party elders, and they don’t like Mrs. Clinton. They’re the ones who finally forced her from the race. Their antipathy was not apparent when she was inevitable. It is obvious now.

“She would never be content to be vice president. She’d be plotting against him from day one. She’d put poison in his tea.

“She brings Bill.

“She undercuts the cleanness of Obama’s message. She doesn’t turn the page, she is the page.

“She would give Republicans something to get excited about. She will revivify them. They’re not excited about [GOP nominee-in-waiting John] McCain, but they could become excited about opposing her.”

Mrs. Noonan had her own ideas.

Mr. Obama “doesn’t need her. … He needs a sober, experienced, older establishment player who will be respected by the press, the first responders of the political game. They’ll set the tone in which the choice is celebrated, or not. He needs someone like Sam Nunn. Or, actually, Sam Nunn. He could throw a wild pass at Jim Webb because he has a real-guy, Southern, semi-working-class persona, and a Scots-Irish grit and chippiness. He is from important Virginia, has Vietnam boots and is moderate.”

ABC rebuffed

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama rejected an offer Sunday from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and ABC News to host the first proposed presidential town hall because they do not want it limited to one television network, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. McCain, the likely Republican nominee, last week asked his Democratic counterpart to join him for 10 meetings in the coming months, and campaign managers for both sides said they had agreed in spirit to schedule some type of joint appearances.

But the campaigns rejected a formal offer outlined in a letter from Mr. Bloomberg and ABC News on Sunday that envisioned kicking off the town hall series with a 90-minute, prime-time broadcast from New York. The campaigns said the candidates want the meetings open for broadcast on all television networks or on the Internet, rather than be sponsored by a single network or news organization.

A spokesman indicated Mr. Bloomberg would not give up on trying to influence the town hall meeting process. ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said the network is open to discussing a wider distribution for the town hall.

— Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/36-3285 or [email protected]

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