- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

Civil war

“It’s unclear exactly when the primaries stopped being a joyous occasion for the Democrats. But as the weeks have ground on, the intensity between Democrats who disagree has calcified, the vitriol grown fiercer,” Newsweek reporter Julia Baird writes.

“According to exit polling in the Texas primary, 91 percent of Clinton supporters said they would be dissatisfied with Obama as the nominee; 87 percent of Obama fans said they would be dissatisfied with Clinton. Nationally, a quarter of those who back Clinton say they’d vote for John McCain if Obama won the nomination (while just 10 percent of Obama supporters would do the same if he lost).

“For many Democrats, what started out as a glowing opportunity for a historic presidency has become a depressing display of division and anger trumping reason. Because the policy differences between Clinton and Obama are minor, the debate is not about substance; it’s been mainly about character and identity in a contest between a black man and a white woman.

“Historians insist that intraparty bitterness is nothing new. But growing anger about perceived racism and sexism is souring what was once excitement among Democrats about an embarrassment of riches. Now many are embarrassed that the party which prides itself on diversity is battling its own prejudices. Unaffiliated Democratic strategist Donna Brazile believes it has become ‘a brewing internal civil war.’ ”

Writers strike

“On Friday, it got to be too much for Alegre, a diarist on the flagship liberal blog DailyKos, who frequently writes in support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Greg Pollowitz observed in the media blog at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“ ’I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our online community has tried to accomplish in this world,” Alegre wrote Friday evening. ‘No more.’

“Objecting to the tone of attacks against Mrs. Clinton and her supporters on the blog, the diarist called for a ‘writers strike.’

“ ’This is a strike — a walkout over unfair writing conditions at DailyKos. It does not mean that if conditions get better I won’t “work” at DailyKos again,’ Alegre wrote, promising to come back only ‘if we ever get to the point where we’re engaging each other in discussion rather than facing off in shouting matches.’ ”

The real story

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, says the news media have badly misreported a story about a study of whether there were links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

“Late last week, the Defense Department released an analysis of 600,000 documents captured in Iraq prepared by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded think tank. Here’s the attention-grabbing sentence from the report’s executive summary: ‘This study found no “smoking gun” (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda,’ ” Mr. Kristol noted in an editorial.

“Relying on a leak of the executive summary, ABC News reported that the study was ‘the first official acknowledgment from the U.S. military that there is no evidence Saddam had ties to al Qaeda.’ There followed a brief item in The Washington Post that ran under the headline ‘Study Discounts Hussein, Al-Qaeda Link.’ The New York Times announced: ‘Study Finds No Qaeda-Hussein Tie.’ NPR agreed: ‘Study Finds No Link Between Saddam, bin Laden.’

“And the Bush administration reacted with an apparently guilty silence.

“But here’s the truth. The executive summary of the report is extraordinarily misleading. The full report, released Thursday night, states, for example, on page 42: ‘Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.’ In fact, as Stephen F. Hayes reports in this issue, the study outlines a startling range of connections between Saddam and various organizations associated with al Qaeda and other terror groups.”

‘Obama watch’

Hoping to prod Barack Obama into appearing on its show, “Fox News Sunday” began the “Obama Watch,” a weekly update on the number of days the Democratic presidential candidate has failed to appear on the program.

Host Chris Wallace said yesterday that Mr. Obama promised him in March 2006 that he would come on the show, but the Illinois senator has since demurred.

Since then, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been a guest twice and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, the likely Republican nominee for president, has shown up a half dozen times.

“Many of you have sent us e-mails asking why the senator won’t come on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and face tough questioning,” Mr. Wallace said toward the end of the hourlong broadcast. “It has now been 730 days, 13 hours, 53 minutes and nine — no, 10 seconds and counting since Obama agreed to be a guest on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ”

“Tune in next week for the latest,” he said.

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment on a possible appearance by Mr. Obama on “Fox News Sunday,” the Associated Press reports, but noted that the senator did an interview with the Fox News Channel as recently as last Friday.

Double whammy

“Here’s another reason why some Democrats aren’t high on having Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton together on the Democratic ticket: Latino voters, not high on black or female candidates, might choose Sen. John McCain,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Democratic pollster Peter Hart says the ticket could face a double whammy of prejudice. ‘I wouldn’t want to see a Clinton-Obama ticket. If you’re breaking through a glass ceiling, if you double pane, it’s going to be twice as hard to break though, so I think that you’re adding to the biases that any candidate would have to deal with.’ ”

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

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