- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

UNBOWED

“I spent a good part of the past year speaking and writing against the election of Barack Obama,” Dennis Prager writes at Town Hall’s Web site.

“During the last week of the campaign, my Salem Radio Network colleagues, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, and I spoke on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket in the ‘Battleground states’ of Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida,” Mr. Prager said.

“One would expect that I would be devastated at Barack Obama’s election - as devastated as liberals were at the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004. I am not - yet. Here are some reasons why:

“1. Republicans won the election of 2004, an election that was more important to the future of America and the world than was this election. Had Sen. John Kerry won in 2004, America would have left Iraq in defeat and Islamists would have won their greatest victory ever. Millions of young Muslims would likely have seen in Islamic jihadism humanity’s future and signed up for terror; and Iraq would have degenerated into genocidal chaos.

“2. The election of a black president is good for blacks, good for whites, and therefore very good for America.

“At least at this moment - no one can predict the future - many more blacks feel fully American, and fewer blacks regard white America as racist than ever before. One cannot attain a higher status than the American presidency, and a black man will now occupy that position. As the Hoover Institution’s Shelby Steele wrote, this is the first time in history that a majority white nation elected a black as its leader.

“Conservatives are not surprised. I have argued for decades that America is the least racist country in the world. By and large, only Americans on the right have believed, or at least had the courage to say, this. Now that fact is obvious to virtually anyone with eyes to see.”

NOT IMPOSSIBLE

“If you believe what the pundits are saying, enacting universal health insurance in the next year won’t be difficult: It will be impossible,” Jonathan Cohn writes in the New Republic.

“As the argument goes, it would cost too much money, antagonize too many interest groups, and - given the difficulty of finding 60 votes in the Senate - require too much raw political muscle. Even before Barack Obama won the election, allies were advising him to stay far away from major health care legislation, lest he fail as miserably as Bill Clinton did when he famously tried for universal coverage back in 1994. As one anonymous Democratic senator recently told New York magazine, ‘Health care is a quagmire.’

“But not everybody thinks 2009 has to be a repeat of 1994. Since June, staff members from three key Senate committees - Budget, Finance, and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions - have been meeting regularly to map out a health care strategy for the coming year. They’ve formed three working groups: one focused on expanding insurance coverage, one focused on improving the system’s functioning and one focused on financing a new initiative,” Mr. Cohn said.

“They’ve also been meeting with officials representing almost every key stakeholder involved in the health care debate, from doctors to insurers to consumer advocates to employers. The goal of these meetings has been to develop a common vision among Senate Democrats for what universal health care should look like - and how to pass it. Although the discussions still have a ways to go, a rough consensus is starting to take shape.”

WELCOME TO UTOPIA

“Those who think that they have just voted to legalize Utopia (and I hardly exaggerate when I say this; have you been reading the moist and trusting comments of our commentariat?) are preparing for a disillusionment that I very much doubt they will blame on themselves,” Christopher Hitchens writes at Slate.

“The national Treasury is an echoing, empty vault; our Russian and Iranian enemies are acting even more wolfishly even as they sense a repudiation of Bush-Cheney; the lines of jobless and evicted are going to lengthen, and I don’t think a diet of hope is going to cover it. Nor even a diet of audacity, though can you picture anything less audacious than the gray, safety-first figures who have so far been chosen by Obama to be on his team?” Mr. Hitchens asked.

“There is an element of the ‘wannabe’ about all this - something that suggests that, if the clock were to be rolled back, every living white person would now automatically stand with John Brown at Harper’s Ferry and with John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. All the evidence we have is to the contrary: Abraham Lincoln ringingly denounced John Brown, and John F. Kennedy (he of the last young and pretty family to occupy the Executive Mansion) was embarrassed and annoyed by the March on Washington. In other words, there is something pain-free and self-congratulatory about the Obama surge.

“This has happened before, of course, with the high-sounding talk about the ‘New Frontier,’ the ‘Great Society,’ and ‘Morning in America.’ It’s just that this time it’s more than usually not affordable. There are many causes of the subprime and derivative horror show that has destroyed our trust in the idea of credit, but one way of defining it would be to say that everybody was promised everything, and almost everybody fell for the populist bait.”

SHOCK AND AWE

“As President-elect Barack Obama begins to hash out their agenda, Republicans are predicting Democratic overreach and pointing back to the example of 1994,” Marc Ambinder writes in a blog at The Atlantic’s Web site.

“But 2010 isn’t 1994,” Mr. Ambinder said.

“Consider: Bill Clinton had no experience working with the House and Senate; he had to learn on the job and made some early mistakes in this regard. Obama, on the other hand, has a working knowledge of the legislative process, and has a whole host of allies within the Democratic caucus.

“In 1994, the realignment of the Southern states, which had happened on the presidential level in 1980, finally broke through on the congressional level. The trends now are moving the other direction, with moderate Republicans in blue states being replaced by Democrats. …

“The Clinton White House lost the PR battle against [House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s] army and ‘Harry and Louise.’ It’s hard (though not by any means impossible) to imagine the Obama communications department being similarly outmaneuvered, considering what we’ve seen from both sides in the current cycle.

“More likely, if and when President Obama attempts to pass big-ticket items, the PR offensive coming from the White House will be on the ‘shock and awe’ side of overwhelming, if the recent campaign is any guide.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or Greg Pierce.

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