- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2008

Fill in the blanks

“Thanks to Tuesday’s presidential election, Congress is now two senators short of a full house. Here’s some early grapevine on who’s in the running to fill the Illinois and Delaware Senate seats being vacated by the president-elect and his running mate,” Wall Street Journal editorialist Kim Strassel writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“In the Prairie State, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich will name Sen. Barack Obama’s replacement — that is, if the embattled governor, who is being investigated for corruption, manages to hold onto office. Mr. Blagojevich briefly flirted with the idea of creating a special commission to help make his pick, but appears to have abandoned the idea. The governor … may not announce anything before Christmas,” the columnist said.

“Prominent Illinois politicians have been lobbying for the position for months, including Chicago Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis or Evanston Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Mr. Obama will have some input, and both Mr. Jackson and Ms. Schakowsky were heavily active in his campaign. Another person who gets a lot of mention is Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraqi war vet and unsuccessful House candidate in 2006 who works in the Blagojevich administration. The governor also could use the pick to shore up his own political position, appointing either Comptroller Dan Hynes or Attorney General Lisa Madigan — both potential Democratic rivals for his seat in 2010. He could also, for that matter, appoint himself.

“Over in Delaware, it isn’t even yet clear who will do the appointing. Joe Biden has suggested he’s in no hurry to relinquish his seat, so the task might fall to incoming Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, rather than outgoing Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. Rumors indicate the Delaware political establishment is coalescing around the idea of appointing a placeholder who would carry the seat until 2010, when Mr. Biden’s son, Attorney General Beau Biden, could run for the Senate.

Elite opinion

“By the Friday after the election, what had happened in California had become a little too awkward for elite opinion to ignore,” Jeffrey Bell writes in the Weekly Standard.

“It was not so much that Proposition 8 — writing marriage between a man and a woman into the state constitution, over the vehement objections of the California Supreme Court, the Republican governor, the Democratic legislature, Sen. Barack Obama and every editorial page and opinion writer imaginable — had passed. With similar results the same day in Florida and Arizona,” Mr. Bell noted.

“The scoreboard in popular referenda on such amendments is now Marriage 30, Same Sex Marriage 0. It was the fact that in the most socially liberal state in the country, whites had voted (narrowly) against the amendment, Hispanics narrowly for, and black voters overwhelmingly for the traditional definition of marriage. Amazingly, Los Angeles County, which chose Obama over [Sen. John] McCain 69 percent to 29 percent, supported Proposition 8, with black voters in crime-ridden South Los Angeles neighborhoods like Compton voting strongly in favor, while Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Pacific Palisades were tolerantly and disdainfully against.

“So elite opinion makers had to say something about these black voters. The accounts I saw said two things: Many blacks are bigoted against gays, and the pro-Proposition 8 forces got to California’s black pastors. In other words, the anti-same-sex-marriage black voters are bigoted, they are sheep, or most likely some combination of the two.

“I suspect the reality of this vote, once elite opinion’s multiple stereotypes of black voters are set aside, has more to do with the aspirational nature of American-values politics and of our social issues in general.”

Sense of urgency

“As political honeymoons go, Barack Obama’s looks certain to be the world’s shortest. With the votes still being counted from his historic election, the expectation seems to be growing that our next president will be taking charge in the Oval Office Monday,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“Actually, he will be in the Oval Office Monday, but only for a courtesy visit to his new digs and a sitdown with the beleaguered man he’ll be replacing,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“The office won’t be Obama’s until Jan. 20, as he noted in his Friday press conference. …

“That he felt compelled to make the timing point more than once underscores the extraordinary sense of urgency surrounding the end of the Bush era and the start of Obama’s. …

“And certainly there will be no leisurely stroll between now and the inauguration. America, actually the whole world, is in a hurry to see a new captain take over and try to save what feels like a sinking ship.”

Defending Palin

The conservative sisterhood rode to the assistance of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday in the face of criticism of the Republican vice-presidential nominee last week from anonymous McCain presidential campaign staffers.

“I’m still shocked by the attacks,” Kate Obenshain, vice president of Young America’s Foundation, told the monthly gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network at the Heritage Foundation.

Mrs. Obenshain said the unnamed McCain campaign staffers ridiculing Mrs. Palin were seeking to “shift the blame” for their own “failed campaign.”

She said Mrs. Palin has been “gracious” in the face of her critics, and she urged the 100-plus women on hand for the panel discussion — co-sponsored by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute — to “stand up for” Mrs. Palin.

Fight over Lieberman

President-elect Barack Obama is steering clear of getting involved in one fight on Capitol Hill: whether Senate Democrats should remove Joe Lieberman as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Lieberman’s affiliation with Democrats is in question after the Connecticut independent’s high-profile support of Republican John McCain for president. He remains a registered Democrat.

“What happens on the House and Senate on chairmanship is their business,” Mr. Obama’s incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “But the business of what we have to do when we get sworn in is focusing on what the American people care about. Priority one is the economy.”

“Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong …,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

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

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