- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Week by week

“Several weeks ago, I wrote in this space that a campaign needs to win most of the remaining weeks in order to be successful in winning an election. I compared it to fighters winning the rounds in order to win the fight,” Ed Rollins writes at www.cnn.com.

“In the period since the Republican convention, Gov. Sarah Palin won the ‘weeks’ for her team. She dominated the media. She moved poll numbers favorably, and her addition created an energy that could be seen in the large crowds. There was a new enthusiasm among the Republican base,” Mr. Rollins said.

“In the midst of the financial crisis last week, it was John McCain’s turn to pick up the ball and run with it. He didn’t do it very well. He used the Bush administration talking points on Monday: The ‘all the fundamentals are fine’ speech! It was perceived as a disaster.

Barack Obama’s response wasn’t much better. He took no position but jumped on McCain for saying things were OK. On Tuesday, McCain switched positions from ‘no bailouts’ to ‘bailouts are needed.’ Obama still took no position.

“His running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, said rich Americans should be patriotic and pay more taxes. A more idiotic statement has never been uttered! But then he also said last week that people in financial trouble should be able to renegotiate their interest and the principal on their housing loans. The idea of renegotiating how much you borrowed is a novel approach that should thrill the banks.

“By Friday, McCain was back against bailouts. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wanted to bail out everybody with taxpayers’ money. (How about all the guys who lost on the first two weeks of the football season?)

“Obama’s position was: I think I am going to support Paulson’s bailout, but I am going to wait and see what Bush and the Congress propose before I offer my solutions.

“There were no profiles in courage last week from the political campaigns. And maybe a rush to judgment wasn’t the best course either. But the political terrain has changed.”

God and Biden

Joe Biden isn’t backing down from his startling claim last week that raising taxes on the rich is the ‘patriotic’ thing to do,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial Monday.

“On Thursday he upped the ante, thundering that he also has Jesus in his corner. ‘Catholic social doctrine as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most,’ Mr. Biden preached to a group of union supporters on Thursday.

“Heavens! The political left likes to score Republicans for claiming that God is on their side, but here we have Mr. Biden claiming support from both God and Caesar. If Sarah Palin tried this, she’d send the boys at the Daily Kos into cardiac arrest. We won’t get into a theological debate with Mr. Biden, except to say that Biblical tax rates tended to run around 10 percent, not the 39.6 percent-plus that Barack Obama’s tax plan calls for,” the newspaper said.

“As for patriotism, maybe the young Joe Biden missed school the day the Boston Tea Party was being taught. There’s also the point that if you want to finance a war, you need a strong enough economy to throw off the tax revenues to pay for it. As we learned in the 1980s under Reagan, lower taxes that help an economy grow can finance a defense buildup that helps win the Cold War. By that standard, cuts in marginal income tax rates deserve to be called patriotic.”

Fighting words

“Political convention holds that campaign operatives fight wars with reporters mostly in private — over tense drinks, in nasty e-mails, during expletive-laden phone calls or from sneering looks on the campaign bus or plane,” Michael Scherer wrote Monday in a blog at www.time.com.

“The McCain campaign, like other campaigns, does all that. But it has also long made public spats with networks, reporters and publications a part of its public face,” Mr. Scherer said.

Steve Schmidt turned this public shaming up a notch by condemning the New York Times, easily the most influential newspaper in America, as a partisan rag in unusually blunt and categorical language.

“‘Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization,’ Schmidt announced on a well-attended conference call. ‘This is an organization that is completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate.’

“Schmidt’s specific complaints seemed to center not just on [Monday’s] story about the past relationship between McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but what Schmidt characterized as an unwillingness by the paper to do the same level of vetting and investigation of Barack Obama as it has done of John McCain. ‘You are not going to read this on the front page of the New York Times, but the Obama campaign is surrounded by people who have been involved in the lobbying business. On the same call, Davis said that the Times writes about him so much that there must be some ‘Davis envy going on’ ”

“This may be a nifty bit of misdirection. It may be a legitimate complaint. It may be a play to rile up the Republican base. … Whatever it is, it certainly will get the talkers talking, which is most definitely Schmidt’s intent.”

Freddoso and Novak

“Behind every New York Times best-selling author, there is usually a great mentor. And for David Freddoso, author of the best-selling and controversial book ‘The Case Against Barack Obama,’ that mentor is the Prince of Darkness himself, columnist Robert Novak,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Freddoso worked for Novak for three years, and the two have remained close. So close in fact that Novak, who has been suffering from a brain tumor, came out to Freddoso’s book party [Thursday] night in Washington. Novak, now using a wheelchair, made a brief guest appearance with his wife and was in seemingly good spirits. He was greeted enthusiastically by the mostly conservative crowd, including our own Michael Barone.

“Freddoso, a political reporter for the conservative National Review Online, called Novak ‘an amazing reporter and a great man’ and thanked him for his solid advice over the years. While he was of course concerned for his mentor’s health, he told our Nikki Schwab that Novak’s ‘a machine.’

“‘If anyone can survive this, he can,’ Freddoso says.”

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

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