- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Only ‘fair’

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, awaiting what was expected to be bolstered Democratic majorities in the Senate and the House, spoke out Tuesday in favor of the Fairness Doctrine, which would require radio stations to balance popular conservative talk show hosts with liberals, who generally draw dismal ratings.

“I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?” Mr. Schumer, a New York Democrat, said during an interview on the Fox News Channel.

Mr. Schumer said critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent.

“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that. … But you can’t say government hands-off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

The FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine during the Reagan administration, spawning the talk-radio format that dominates much of the AM dial. Before that, stations shied away from political controversy, fearing government intervention and the possible loss of operating licenses.

Since the rise of conservative radio stars Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and many others, liberals have tried to nurture their own talk-radio stalwarts, to little avail. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein of California are among the powerful Democrats who now advocate government intervention to dictate radio content more favorable to their party.

Liberal dominance

“There’s an old saying that politics in America is played between the 40-yard lines,” Fred Barnes wrote in an opinion piece that appeared Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

“What this means, for those unfamiliar with football, is that we’re a centrist country, never straying very far to the left or the right in elections or national policies. This has been true for decades. It probably won’t be after today’s election,” Mr. Barnes said.

“For the first time since the 1960s, liberal Democrats are dominant. They are all but certain to have a lopsided majority in the House, and either a filibuster-proof Senate or something close to it. If Barack Obama wins the presidency today, they’ll have an ideological ally in the White House.

“A sharp lurch to the left and enactment of a liberal agenda, or major parts of it, are all but inevitable. The centrist limits in earlier eras of Democratic control are gone. In the short run, Democrats may be constrained by the weak economy and a large budget deficit. Tax hikes and massive spending programs, except those billed as job creation, may have to be delayed.

“But much of their agenda — the ‘card check’ proposal to end secret ballots in union elections, the Fairness Doctrine to stifle conservative talk radio, liberal judicial nominees, trade restrictions, retreat from Iraq, talks with Iran — doesn’t require spending. And after 14 years of Republican control of Congress, the presidency, or both, Democrats are impatient. They want to move quickly.”

Mitt and Sarah

James Carville once said running for president was like having sex: It’s not something you’re apt to try just once; there’s a high recidivism rate. This is good news if you enjoyed Mitt Romney the first time. You’re almost certain to see him again in 2012,” Tucker Carlson wrote in a blog that appeared Tuesday at www.thedailybeast.com, before the election results were known.

“Much sooner than that actually. Romney dropped out of the presidential race in February, but he never went away. He quickly became a regular guest on cable news, started a political action committee (which, according to National Review, has already given away more than $200,000 in donations), and this fall began stumping in earnest for various Republican candidates, including Sen. John McCain.

“Not only does Romney know more about economics than [Sarah] Palin does, he has greater self-control. In the past four days, Romney has hit nearly a dozen states on behalf of the McCain campaign, but really on his own behalf. This is what groundwork looks like when it’s being laid.

“It’s the oldest cliche in politics that the next campaign starts the day after the election, and this year that is especially true on the Republican side. Republicans hate chaos and uncertainty, but after eight years of an unpopular administration, they no longer have the luxury of an orderly succession. As one Republican consultant said to me the other day, come Wednesday morning the party will resemble post-Soviet Afghanistan: ‘Everybody’s going to declare themselves warlord.’

“At this point, Sarah Palin would seem to have the most powerful arsenal. While Democrats tend to revile their losing candidates, Republicans revere theirs. Losing to [Barack] Obama and [Joe] Biden won’t destroy Palin’s reputation within the party. It might enhance it. Palin also has the advantage of being world famous, she’s admired by party activists, and she can draw huge crowds. And unlike Romney, she’ll never be accused of being a phony.”

Soak the poor(er)

“For years, we’ve debated rising economic inequality,” Robert Samuelson writes in Investor’s Business Daily.

“On one side, liberals denounce it as unjust. Redistribute wealth to the poor and middle class, they say. On the other, conservatives minimize its importance. What matters most is overall economic growth, they retort.

“Well, the conjunction of the presidential campaign and the financial crisis is giving the debate a curious twist. Liberals have triumphed politically; soaking the rich has become more acceptable. But conservatives may have won the intellectual argument; making the rich poorer doesn’t make everyone else richer.

“If Barack Obama and John McCain agreed on anything, it was this: Greed is bad. They competed in denunciations of reckless investment bankers and avaricious CEOs. Obama proposed raising taxes on higher incomes (couples above $250,000); though McCain didn’t, he suggested that much recent wealth accumulation was ill-gotten. Unintentionally, perhaps, he buttressed the moral case for more redistribution. Let’s tap the gold mine of the rich.

“Unfortunately, the mine has less gold. All the financial turmoil has left the wealthy — however defined — much less wealthy.”

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

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