- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2008

57 and counting

After a befuddled Sen. Barack Obama proclaimed he had visited “57 states” during a recent campaign stop in Oregon, nimble critics took him to task — wondering how could he accuse Sen. John McCain of “losing his bearings” when he himself overshot the nation by seven states.

“But if John McCain did this — if he mistakenly said he’d visited 57 states — the media would be all up in his grill, accusing him of a senior moment,” said Marc Ambinder at his Atlantic magazine site yesterday.

Suitablyflip.com, a political and economics blog, though, had a handy-dandy, tongue-in-cheek solution for Mr. Obama and his handlers:

“Obama Campaign Introduces Customized Lapel Pins: In celebration of his having traveled to an impressive 57 states in his bid for the presidency (and to finally put to rest the notion that he abhors patriotic accessories), Barack Obama’s campaign has introduced a custom line of American flag lapel pins. Get yours today and show your support for the least senile candidate in the race,” the site noted yesterday.

And yes, the proposed accessory du jour has a cute little outcropping on one side with seven extra stars.

The blogosphere is still reverberating.

“57 states, 57 varieties, so the man is running to be President of Heinz Ketchup. Cut him some slack. I’m sure Theresa will be glad to award him the job,” noted one visitor to the conservative HotAir.com site.

Media munchkins

Well, at least no one’s dropped a house on her yet. Still, some are convinced that the press has turned some petty guns on Mrs. Clinton as she struggled down the campaign trial — vexing her campaign strategists and supporters.

“I think what people were reacting to this week wasn’t so much the media declaring the race over, as it was this kind of ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead’ quality to the comments,” Kate Zernike of the New York Times said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” yesterday.

“And I do think people are angry,” she said. “They’re mad at the media. They’re not necessarily mad at Obama.”

Ushering them out

It’s once upon a midnight dreary for one presidential hopeful, perhaps.

“At last: The fall of the house of Clinton,” Rupert Cornwell wrote yesterday for London’s Independent newspaper, in a creative retooling of Edgar Allen Poe‘s similarly titled horror tale.

“Never count a Clinton out. Not even when he — or, in this case, she — is sealed in a tomb. Bill came back from scandals that would have felled a less resilient politician. And now we have Hillary, refusing to accept a political death plain to all except her, yet commanding a grudging admiration for her defiance, even among her foes. As Clinton’s inevitable defeat at the hands of Barack Obama draws closer, we are witnessing its political, albeit less gothic, equivalent — the Fall of the House of Clinton.”

Unlikely alliances

And what of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at this juncture?

Barack Obama will have to ponder whether he will lose more votes by keeping Clinton off the ticket than putting her on it,” writes Nicholas von Hoffman of the Nation. “For weeks now, he has been saying that Clinton is the essence of the old politics, whose page he promises to turn.”

“If she does force her way onto the ticket, it will not be the first time. In 1932, the price Franklin D. Roosevelt had to pay for the nomination was accepting as his running mate John Nance Garner, a Texas reactionary of the whiskey-drinking, tobacco-chewing variety. The two men despised each other and spent the next eight years staying out of each other’s sight.”

Mr. von Hoffman continued, “If Obama has a sense of self-preservation he should place one proviso on choosing Clinton as his running mate: extract a promise that Chelsea Clinton be installed in the White House as his official taster. You can imagine the intrigues for power and the placement of her liegemen in top jobs coming out of Ms. Clinton’s office. And where would Bill fit in? What happens when it is revealed that he made a deal with a Central Asian despot for an oil concession for one of his billionaire buds?”

‘For some people, Obama-Clinton is dream ticket. For others, it’s a dream swarming with poisonous spiders, snakes and elephant-sized rats. Instead, for the new politics of national unity of which Obama speaks he might think about putting a Republican on the ticket. The Republican Abraham Lincoln put a Democrat on the ticket in 1864. In 2008, Democrat Obama could choose Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel or independent Mike Bloomberg. Such a ticket might not be dreamy, but it would be a turn of the page.”

Give it a rest

The New York Times gave a final nod to first daughter Jenna Bush and only a few hours after her wedding to Henry Hager at a perfectly swell affair Saturday night.

With somber intonations, the Times yesterday reported that the couple was married by the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, carefully noting that the pastor, “a longtime religious adviser to Mr. Bush, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama.”

O-o-o-o-o. Big scoop.

And while the wedding was not press-friendly, it nevertheless generated more than 3,000 stories globally, according to a Google News count. The Houston Chronicle, perhaps, summed things up the best:

“It was not a ‘look at us’ wedding,” one guest told the newspaper yesterday. “It was truly just gorgeous and tasteful.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes .com or 202/ 636-3085

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