- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

IMAGE MAKERS

“In the last few days, I´ve been thinking a little about Dick Cheney´s image,” Jay Nordlinger writes in National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“This stems from a lunch a group of us had with him last week. Cheney is an unusual person: very sensible, very measured, very trustworthy. No wonder he has been entrusted with so many sensitive government positions. He is a calm person, and he has a calming effect on others. He is the kind of man you want in public service — party or partisanship quite aside,” Mr. Nordlinger said.

“In the course of our lunch, he said that the recent Democratic victory was ‘part of the normal cycle of a competitive two-party system,’ and ‘fundamentally healthy for the nation.’ He also talked about how wondrous it was to swear in the first black president.

“And what is his widespread image? He is a kind of Dr. Evil to people, although, unlike the Austin Powers one, not a comical Dr. Evil. He is a right-wing menace, a scourge of civil liberties, a Torquemada. This is absolutely perverse.

“And what of President Bush´s image - at least one aspect of it? They say that he is less than bright, that he is stupid. And stupid is the last thing President Bush is. Call him willful, call him stubborn, call him petulant or cussed or difficult. Stupid, he is not.

“Consider one more public figure: Sarah Palin. I keep hearing and reading, in various quarters, that she is a ‘bimbo.’ That is the word I hear about her, rather a lot: ‘bimbo.’ This is a woman, of course, who has been married since her early 20s. She and her husband, Todd, have five children. Sarah is governor of her state; Todd works in the oil fields. From what anyone can tell, they delight in each other, and in their family. They seem almost an advertisement for monogamy: for the married life. And yet people say ‘bimbo.’

“In a nation full of bimbos, Gov. Palin is one of the few who aren´t.

“It seems to me that the Left has won: utterly and decisively. What I mean is, the ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Jon Stewart, Bill Maher mentality has prevailed. They decide what a person´s image is, and those images stick. They are the ones who say that Cheney´s a monster, W.´s stupid, and Palin´s a bimbo. And the country, apparently, follows.”

LOSING A WAR

George W. Bush unwittingly highlighted one of the greatest failures of his presidency last week in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, and then did it again Tuesday when he met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Terence P. Jeffrey writes at www.cnsnews.com.

“The United States, Bush rightly told the Morning News, shares responsibility with Mexico for the incredible level of violence in that country.

“‘There´s another key reason to be very close to Mexico, and that is to jointly fight the narco-traffickers,’ said Bush. ‘And I say jointly fight them because we have as much responsibility as Mexico does. If there wasn´t as much drug use in America, there would be less need for narco-traffickers to use Mexico as a transit point.’

“Bush might as well have gone on to say: If the president of the United States had done his job and controlled the border from the U.S. side, smugglers would not be fighting today to control it from the Mexican side. Nor would they be running drugs into American cities and thus killing American kids and destroying American communities.

“What Bush did go on to tell the paper was this: ‘The violence is awful. President Calderon knows it’s awful. He knows he has got a war on his hands against people who use violence to achieve their objectives.’

“This is the war Bush leaves office losing. Not the two on the other side of the world - the one right here.”

ON THE HORIZON

“In presenting herself to Congress to become secretary of state, Sen. Hillary Clinton at the least showed she will have little trouble conversing in the soft talk of the striped-pants set,” the Wall Street Journal said Wednesday in an editorial.

“On the Middle East: ‘We cannot give up on peace.’ On China: ‘Much of what we will do depends on the choices China makes.’

“By default, then, the pro forma hearing’s hardest moments became the nominee’s colloquies with Sen. Richard Lugar over the status of Bill Clinton’s foundation,” the newspaper said.

“We discussed in this space [Tuesday] the complications Mr. Clinton’s donor list could create for the conduct of an Obama foreign policy. Sen. Lugar pressed the disclosure point at the hearing, even proposing a detailed plan for handling future donations to the foundation. ‘The core of the problem,’ said Sen. Lugar, ‘is that foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state.’

“Pointedly, Sen. John Kerry, the committee chair, leaned in to let Sen. Clinton know that Mr. Lugar was ‘expressing the view of the committee as a whole.’

“Sen. Clinton replied that the agreement worked out between the foundation and the Obama transition was adequate.

“No doubt Sen. Clinton is sailing toward confirmation and then on to what she promises will be a new world of ‘smart power.’ But both Sens. Lugar and Kerry have been around Washington long enough to be able to see political difficulty over the horizon.

“While the troubled Clinton presidency by now has been reduced to Monica, veteran senators will recall that much of the problems had to do with money flowing into the Clinton campaign from mysterious donors and middlemen. Then came the Republicans’ turn, as the party broke apart on the Abramoff scandal. These senior senators were trying to ensure that a promising new president doesn’t founder on the practices of Washington past. Let’s hope the two of them remain vigilant.”

DEAN’S FAREWELL

Howard Dean, the outgoing chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sent a letter to Democrats Wednesday saying farewell and thanking them for helping reshape the political landscape,” reporter Christina Bellantoni writes in a blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“He also congratulated Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine for getting the appointment as the new chairman,” Ms. Bellantoni said.

“‘I can assure you that Governor Kaine will continue the grass-roots approach that has made our party and Barack Obama’s campaign so successful,’ Dean wrote. ‘Governor Kaine knows first-hand what a commitment to fighting everywhere means - Virginia is a prime example of what can happen when we refuse to concede any part of this country and build our organization everywhere.’”

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


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