- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No middle ground

“In the guise of interpreting the California constitution, the state’s Supreme Court on May 15 made certain that the issue of same-sex marriage will be a national one in the 2008 presidential race,” Jeffrey Bell writes in the Weekly Standard.

“The 4-3 decision ripped away the presumed middle ground on the issue and (assuming the court grants no stay of implementation before mid-June) all but issues an invitation to out-of-state same-sex couples to migrate to California to be married between now and Election Day, November 4. This in turn makes certain that the federal courts will have the option of reinvolving themselves within a matter of months, regardless of the outcome of California’s referendum on a constitutional amendment restoring traditional marriage. …

“As to the presidential race, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama will be able to campaign in California without answering detailed questions on the court decision and (assuming it goes to ballot) the referendum to overturn it by amending the state constitution. In fact, McCain has prospectively endorsed the California amendment, whereas Obama has said he ‘respects’ the decision of the court. While nominally in favor of marriage as being between a man and a woman, Obama will not favor a Yes vote on the ballot measure, which is California’s only chance to restore the definition Obama says he favors.

“But respecting the decision of one state’s high court to ratify same-sex marriage does not commit Obama to spreading same-sex marriage everywhere else - does it?

“In real terms, it does,” Mr. Bell says. “The Defense of Marriage Act is now the only (very shaky) legal barrier standing in the path of nationally mandated recognition of same-sex marriage. What is Obama’s stance on DOMA? He recently endorsed its repeal.

“Needless to say, Obama also opposes amending the U.S. Constitution to protect traditional marriage, even though with DOMA overturned or repealed a federal amendment would become the only possible means of achieving that end. (McCain has also opposed the federal amendment, but he has indicated he will endorse it if the state-by-state decision-making he favors becomes impossible.)”

Ad campaign

A conservative, free-market advocacy group will begin airing ads this week pressing Senate Republicans and Democrats to vote against a global-warming legislation bill that would cap emissions of carbon dioxide.

The Club for Growth wants to scuttle a bill by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and John Warner, Virginia Republican, that the Senate is scheduled to begin debating next month.

With $250,000 in radio and television spots, the Club for Growth is targeting Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Democratic Sens. Robert C. Byrd and John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, and Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana. Mrs. Dole, a co-sponsor of the bill, as well as Mr. Alexander, Mr. Baucus and Mr. Rockefeller face re-election this year.

“Congress is at it again,” a television ad airing in Tennessee says. “This time they’re pushing massive new taxes and regulation in the name of global warming. But let’s ask ourselves, are the unproven benefits of legislation worth the major job losses, new taxes and increased energy costs that could result?

“Call Senator Lamar Alexander and tell him to vote no on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. Tennesseans just can’t afford another huge, costly government program.”

All but the Montana ads will air today, the Associated Press reports. Ads aimed at Mr. Tester and Mr. Baucus will air next week.

Fight for ratings

“That Fox News Channel matters now more than ever for campaigning Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton couldn’t have come at a better time for FNC’s top Sunday show, ‘Fox News Sunday’ with Chris Wallace,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“In fact, with his news-packed shows stuffed with new Democratic arrivals to the Fox studio, he bested CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ and ABC’s ‘This Week’ in the critical Washington market during the May sweeps. Sure, Tim Russert’s ‘Meet the Press’ on NBC was king, but grabbing second in the D.C. market is like winning for the three other guys. We talked with the busy Wallace [last week], and he said that winning Washington is more than just getting bragging rights.”

Mr. Wallace said, “Washington is probably the single most important market for a Sunday morning talk show because one of the things that the guests on these shows want to do is to reach out to the other opinion makers and their colleagues in the political world. So if you’re able to say to a guest, ‘Look, we finished second in Washington, and if you want to get your message out to people on the Hill, to people in the White House, to the opinion makers in Washington, we’re the place to do it.’ It’s a powerful argument.”

Clinton’s future

If Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returns to the Senate instead of the White House, she will face an institution in which she ranks 36th in seniority among the 49 Democrats, 17 of whom endorsed her presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama, reporter Carl Hulsewrites in the New York Times.

Mrs. Clinton’s relatively junior status “limits her options in the Senate,” he writes. “She is pretty far down the ladder on her committees, denying her a chairmanship, the most potent source of influence and bargaining chips in the Senate give-and-take.”

“Allies have said the Senate leadership should carve out an important niche for her, but that is not easy since any position could come at the expense of a more senior member. Top Democratic officials say the party leadership is not considering any special spot, though lawmakers would not rule out some accommodation if she sought one.”

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

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