- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

Barr and Nader

“The presidential race is within the margin of error in just about every poll, which makes it quite newsworthy that two alternative candidates for president, Bob Barr and Ralph Nader, have managed to stagger onto the vast majority of state ballots for this fall’s election,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The odds are now high that one or another could siphon off enough votes to be the margin of difference in several states,” Mr. Fund said.

“That said, few expect Ralph Nader to win anywhere near the 2.7 percent he won in 2000 as the Green Party candidate, throwing supporters of Al Gore into a frenzy over the role he supposedly played in costing them the presidency. Now an independent, Mr. Nader is likely to garner closer to the 0.5 percent he won four years ago. But in a close race, Mr. Nader’s presence on at least 44 state ballots increases the possibility of his making a difference.

“Ditto for Bob Barr, the former GOP Georgia congressman now carrying the Libertarian Party banner. He has succeeded in gaining ballot access in more than 45 states, although grass-roots enthusiasm for his candidacy seems to have faded a bit in the wake of individualist Gov. Sarah Palin joining the Republican ticket.”

Unreliable source

“A number of journalists are trying hard to fit McCain’s ‘Advice’ ad into the now-established theme of the McCain campaign employing lies and underhanded tactics,” Byron York writes at www.nationalreview.com.

“The Obama campaign says the ad is a lie. Writers at Time and the Atlantic have suggested that it has racist overtones, because Franklin Raines is black, and Obama is black, and a photo depicting a generic victim of their alleged financial wrongheadedness is of a white woman,” Mr. York said.

“Now, The Washington Post fact checker takes McCain to task for relying on … The Washington Post. Yes, the paper reported in July that Raines had ‘taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters,’ and in August called Raines a ‘member of Mr. Obama’s political circle.’

“But hey, the Post says now, that information originally came from the Style section, and it came when a Post reporter was ‘chatting’ with Raines at a photo shoot. Raines apparently said he had gotten, in the reporter’s words, ‘a couple’ of calls from the Obama campaign. When the reporter asked what about, Raines said, ‘Oh, general housing, economy issues.’ So the reporter wrote that Raines had ‘taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.’

“So now, the Post says McCain ‘is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Franklin Raines as a close adviser to Obama on “housing and mortgage policy.”’

“But the McCain commercial never called Raines a ‘close adviser’ or a close anything. As far as ‘housing and mortgage policy,’ given that the Post had written — and has not retracted — that Raines had discussed ‘mortgage and housing policy’ matters with the Obama campaign, in what sense is that a wild exaggeration?”

Flunking a test

“The meltdown on Wall Street, averted for now by the gigantic taxpayer-funded bailout in the works, revealed frightening weaknesses in our financial readiness. Equally scary was what the crisis revealed about Barack Obama and John McCain,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“Both flunked the sudden stress test the crisis imposed. Neither looked ready to be president,” Mr. Goodwin said. “They were bailed out, too. The rescue package took them off the hook of actually having to come up with solutions or even responsible ideas.”

“Seeing the next president, whomever we elect, pretend to be bold and certain when neither had a clue was terrifying. Grace under pressure was missing-in-action. Neither Obama nor McCain rose to the challenge history presented to them. Because the crisis hadn’t been poll-tested or posted safely on the TelePrompTer, they didn’t know what to say except that everything was bad and excuse me while I open a can of outrage.

“The one thing they dare not say was the truth: that ordinary Americans are also guilty of overindulging in the credit binge. That might cost them votes.”

Forgotten man

“Have you noticed the little orange cones surrounding a certain ill-fated vice-presidential candidate?” Ruben Navarrette asks in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“When a presidential nominee chooses a running mate as a gimmick, not to accentuate his strengths but to mask his weaknesses, he is asking for trouble. And when that running mate becomes a laughingstock and a liability, it doesn’t just hurt the ticket but also reflects poorly on the person who did the choosing because it shows he bungled a major decision. And since the candidate is not likely to choose again, the best he can do is to keep his running mate under wraps and hope there are no more gaffes,” Mr. Navarrette said.

“Of course, the running mate I’m speaking of is Joe Biden.

“With so much attention being showered on Sarah Palin — both good (from the thousands of everyday Americans who have warmed up to the re-energized McCain campaign) and bad (from media elites, condescending liberals, late-night comics, and the writers of ‘Saturday Night Live’) — it’s easy to forget who is the alternative.

“Biden appears intent on making sure voters remember. The career politician is starved for attention. And who can blame him? The poor guy is even having trouble getting journalists to tag along on his campaign plane. According to news reports, only six reporters climbed aboard his campaign plane en route to one recent event. Meanwhile, the press corps traveling with Palin was informed on one flight that the plane had become too heavy. The campaign asked for volunteers to fly commercial.”

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

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