- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2009


Sen. Harry Reid threw a long bomb in an act of desperation,” Jennifer Rubin writes in a blog at www. commentarymagazine.com.

“Recognizing that there was no deal on the public option, Reid resuscitated an old liberal gambit — expanding Medicare. But the questions and contradictions came flooding forth. How was this to be paid for? Wouldn’t the buy-in cost be too expensive? How could we dump millions of older, sicker people into Medicare while slashing hundreds of billions in funding from the program? It frankly makes no sense,” the writer said.

“At week’s end, a flurry of objections and criticism — from senators, the Medicare actuary, editorial pages, previously supportive business groups, doctors, and hospitals — together with shockingly negative polling on ObamaCare suggest that we may have finally reached a point when ‘doing nothing’ (at least for a while) makes immense political sense for lawmakers. The public isn’t clamoring for health care ‘reform,’ and they might even be pleased with lawmakers who insisted that their leaders not jam through a partisan, ill-conceived bill.

“In a sense, Reid clarified what many suspected was going on. The Democrats had ceased trying to craft a workable bill and had decided to pass something, anything, and fix it later. By choosing an approach so obviously hare-brained, however, Reid deprived his party of the pretense that they were engaged in serious lawmaking.

“PerhapsReid can put all the pieces together, respond to the substantive concerns coming from all sides, reassure his members that the polls don’t mean anything, and round up 60 votes before the end of the year. But now that seems a whole lot less likely. And if it all crumbles, conservatives will have Harry Reid to thank.”


“The political headline this [past] week is that President Obama appears to be attempting to move toward the center, or what he believes is the center. We saw the big pivot in two major speeches, one on the economy and the other, in Oslo, on peace,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“If it is real, if the pivot signals a true, partial or coming shift, if it is not limited to rhetorical flurries, it is welcome news in terms of public policy. It also tells us some things. It tells us White House internal polling is probably worse than the public polls telling us the president has been losing support among independents. It tells us the mounting criticism from Republicans, conservatives and others has had a real effect. It tells us White House officials have concluded they were out on a cliff. It tells us they are calculating that after a first year of governing from the left, and winning whatever they win on health care, they believe they can persuasively shift to the center, that it will work,” Miss Noonan said.

“Which is the great political question: Will it work? With congressional elections a year away, will it help make Democrats safe and keep Congress?

The disadvantage of a pivot is that it will further agitate the president’s base, which feels he’s already been too moderate. (This actually carries some benefits: When the left rails at Mr. Obama, he looks more moderate.) The upside is clear. In a time of extended crisis, voters are inclined to reject the radical. And a shift will represent a challenge to the president’s competitors. It is one thing to meet a president’s policies with effective wholesale denunciations when they are wholesale liberal. It’s harder when those policies are more of a mix; it’s harder to rally and rouse, harder to make criticism stick. Bill Clinton knew this. Maybe the White House is learning it, and the same way he learned it: after a bruising.”


“The Senate on Tuesday is going to look like a war zone as hundreds and maybe thousands of tea party activists plan to take over offices to play the role of patients waiting for government health care,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Activists tell Whispers that some will even pretend to die while waiting. Senate staffers say that they are already making plans to work around the protesters,” Mr. Bedard said.

“Activists are being urged to meet near the Senate at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday to get their marching orders. The call was first made on the Web site www.taxdayteaparty .com, home to the so-called Tea Party Patriots. According to the site, the group is also eager to prove wrong Democratic claims that the movement has lost steam.

“The Web site says: ‘It is time, once again, to flex our muscle and exert that influence to hold the line in our fight against the government takeover of health care. The Senate is busy working on the details of a government-run health care bill, and they would like to pass it as quickly as possible. Some of them are under the false impression that we’ve given up and gone away just because they haven’t heard much from us in the past few days. And those senators who have not made a final decision on how to vote are in danger of leaning in the wrong direction. We must remind them that our steadfast opposition to a government takeover of health care is as strong now as it has been all along.’ ”


Virginia Attorney General-elect Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II says his fellow Republicans lost their congressional majorities in the elections of 2006 and 2008 as a result of their big-spending ways.

“We deserved to lose, and we lost,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, 41, a state senator from Fairfax who campaigned for the job as the state’s top cop as an “unapologetic” conservative and won with 58 percent of the vote in statewide elections last month that saw conservative Republicans also win the governorship and lieutenant governorship by equally wide margins.

Addressing the monthly gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute on Friday, he said that to say congressional Republicans spent like drunken sailors when they were in the majority was “offensive to drunken sailors,” reports Peter Parisi of The Washington Times.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington to an audience of about 55, Mr. Cuccinelli said that Republicans running for office cannot win with a campaign pitch of ” ‘We’re not as bad as them.’ That’s not enough.”

” ‘Go along to get along,’ ” he added, is the “biggest killer” of the Republican agenda, and he criticized his party’s support of federal bailouts of troubled industries. As a result, he said, the party lost the trust of its voters. “We need to earn it back.”

That means you have to “take on your own team when they’re wrong,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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