- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

UNPOPULAR ACTS

While most Americans strongly approved of most of President Barack Obama’s first executive orders, such as naming special envoys to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same could not be said of his decisions to order the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center and to allow funding of overseas abortion providers.

More Americans say they disapprove (50 percent) than approve (44 percent) of his decision to order the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, according to the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup poll.

Further, Mr. Obama’s decision to reverse the prohibition on funding for overseas family-planning providers may be the least popular thing he has done so far, Gallup said at www.gallup.com.

This was an executive order that forbade federal government money from going to overseas family-planning groups that provide abortions or offer abortion counseling. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of Mr. Obama’s decision to lift this ban, while only 35 percent approve of it. The ban on federal funds to these groups was put in place by President Ronald Reagan, but lifted by President Bill Clinton. President George W. Bush reinstituted the ban after taking office in 2001, but Mr. Obama has once again lifted it.



“The abortion and Guantanamo Bay prison decisions are especially unpopular among Republicans; only 8 percent approve of the former and 11 percent of the latter,” Gallup said. “But these are also the least popular decisions among independents and Democrats as well, though a majority of Democrats still approve of both.”

SELF-DEFEATING

“The decision by President Obama to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and open a dialogue with the Muslim world is unlikely to achieve its principal objective, which is to undermine the appeal of al Qaeda. The reason for this is that attacks like Sept. 11, 2001, spring from deep spiritual causes and are not the result of American political behavior,” David Satter writes at www.forbes.com.

“In his interview with the Arabic television station, Al Arabiya, Obama missed the moral dimension of the struggle with terrorism completely. He said that the U.S. has ‘not been perfect’ in its dealings with the Arab world (who has?) and all too often started off by dictating.

“At times, he said, we did not know all the factors that were involved in the area’s conflicts. In other words, our actions have, in part, led to the hostility against us, but we are ready to improve. Why, as the victims of terrorism, it was up to us to improve was not explained,” said Mr. Satter, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

“Obama’s remarks may change the image of America in the Muslim world temporarily. In the long run, however, his approach is self-defeating. First, it concedes the question of moral legitimacy and so implicitly justifies the murderous behavior that we are trying to restrain.

“At the same time, by concentrating on America’s image, it attaches far too much importance to the mood of the Arab street, rendering U.S. policy dependent on their judgment rather than ours. Finally, it disparages the achievements of the previous administration in strengthening American security, creating the dangerous impression that the Obama administration may not be committed to defending them.”

MORAL POSTURING

“When Leon Panetta comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday about his nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency, he ought to be asked tough questions about the things he’s said about torture. And he will,” Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn writes.

“At a time when key congressional Democrats are backing calls to investigate Bush administration officials for war crimes, it would help if our elected representatives first answered the tough questions themselves. But they won’t. And therein lies the key to understanding contemporary congressional morality,” Mr. McGurn said.

“For the past few years, no word has been more casually thrown about than ‘torture.’ At the same time, no word has been less precisely defined. That suits Congress just fine, because it allows members to take a pass on defining the law while reserving the right to second-guess the poor souls on the front lines who actually have to make decisions about what the law means.

“Last February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thumped loudly when they sent George W. Bush a bill that would have limited the CIA to the interrogation techniques found in the Army Field Manual — knowing full well that he would veto it. Now they have a Democratic president who says he shares their views. So why not send him a bill declaring once and for all that waterboarding and other interrogation techniques constitute torture?”

BOOK BEAT

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic former presidential candidate John Edwards, will address her husband’s infidelity in a short memoir due to released on May 12, Roger Friedman reports at www.foxnews.com.

The book, called “Resilience,” will be published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House. It is a follow-up to her bestseller “Saving Graces.”

Edwards insiders told Fox News that they are unsure whether the book will be a tell-all, tell-some, tell-none, or an exercise in denial.

However, Rachel Weiner, writing at www.huffingtonpost.com, said: “The usually private Elizabeth Edwards, I am told, is definitely including her take on the relationship in her new book. Her publicist says she will be addressing John’s ‘affair and how she experienced it.’ ”

Mr. Edwards admitted to the affair in August 2008, months after ending his presidential campaign, although he denied fathering a girl. His mistress, Rielle Hunter, made a series of short videos of the former senator for his PAC, the One America Committee.

IN THE RACE

Robin Carnahan, the daughter of a former Missouri governor and U.S. senator, announced Tuesday she will run for the Senate next year.

Miss Carnahan, the two-term Democratic secretary of state, will seek the seat being vacated by four-term Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican.

Miss Carnahan announced that she will be a candidate in a video posted on her Web site, www.robincarnahan.com, the Kansas City Star reports.

Among Republicans said to be interested are Rep. Roy Blunt, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and former Sen. Jim Talent.

BITE OF THE BIG APPLE

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid a visit to an apparently disgruntled constituent nicknamed “Staten Island Chuck” on Groundhog Day — and got bitten for his trouble.

Staten Island’s famous groundhog, Charles G. Hogg, inexplicably bit Mr. Bloomberg on Monday during the annual ceremony, drawing blood from the billionaire, the Associated Press reports.

Said Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser: “It nicked his hand.”

Mr. Bloomberg wrapped the cut with a napkin until he could check with his doctor.

He was told there was no risk of rabies. The 2-year-old animal was born and raised in captivity and has had no interaction with other animals.

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

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