- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

Friendly fire

“Mr. Obama has yet to assume office, and already his own party is beating his priorities like a conga drum,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“When the incoming Democratic president asked the outgoing GOP president to request the second $350 billion in rescue money, Mr. Bush graciously complied. At which point the Democratic majority informed the Democratic president that he’d see not a dime until they decided how to spend it. After all, giving Mr. Obama control over his own Treasury funds would rob them of a pot that they could earmark for Detroit, or bankruptcy judges, or local institutions,” the writer said.

“When incoming Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag proved reluctant to commit Mr. Obama to specific uses of the money, Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson accused him of spouting ‘mumbo jumbo.’ North Dakota’s Sen. Kent Conrad, fresh off dictating the shape of Mr. Obama’s stimulus tax cuts, had to intervene. In a last-ditch effort to rally Democratic support, Mr. Obama was forced to agree in writing to commit up to $100 billion to homeowners. Even so, nine of his own senators Thursday voted to deny him the funds.

“Speaking of the stimulus, the Obama team, trying to shelter the party from accusations of profligate spending, initially capped the package at (a whopping) $775 billion. At which point Mr. Reid explained, publicly, that at least 20 of Mr. Obama’s own economists felt it should in fact be at least $800 billion - maybe even $1.3 trillion! Five impoverished Democratic governors chimed in that anything less than $1 trillion really wasn’t worth it. At last count, Mr. Obama had been talked up to $825 billion (and rising).

“As to the makeup of the stimulus bill, Mr. Obama directed at least $300 billion go to tax cuts. This was partly to fulfill a campaign pledge, partly to sweeten the deal for Republicans, partly because his economic team might actually believe it a good idea - especially business provisions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein pronounced herself ‘concerned’ (uh-oh) that so much might go to Americans, over appropriators. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed the incoming president that, duh, he should be raising taxes. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who heads Ways and Means, and knows it, decreed $300 billion a maximum, not a minimum. At last count, that number was $275 billion (and falling).”

No credit

“From the day President Bush took office, the long knives were out for him - in ways they will not (and should not) be out for President-elect Barack Obama,” San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders writes.

“The chattering class saw Dubya as a walking style crime in a cowboy suit. They hit Bush for everything - for the way he mangled syntax, for the books he read and because he worked out too much,” the writer said.

“Note that now that the buff Obama is taking office, stories gushing about Obama’s daily workouts flood the channels. Oh, yes, and the same people who belittled Bush for sending troops to war even though he only served in the National Guard somehow do not seem to notice Obama’s utter lack of military experience.

“To trash Bush was to belong. There was little upside in supporting Bush, even if you had supported his agenda.

“Most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2004 and 2008 voted for the Patriot Act - and then campaigned against it. They voted for the resolution authorizing U.S. military force in Iraq - then bolted from the war itself. Likewise with No Child Left Behind. Somehow Bush was the guy who looked bad as he withstood the heat while his caving critics preened.

“When the Dems were pushing for a humiliating retreat from Iraq and opinion polls supported troop withdrawal, Bush instead pushed for a troop surge that has made all the difference. Vice President-elect Joe Biden - who voted for the war before he was against it - visited Iraq last week. While there, he promised the Iraqis that America would not withdraw troops in a way that undermines Iraqi security. Yet that was exactly what his party advocated a year ago.

“Does Bush get any credit? No, just as he has received little credit for efforts that have prolonged millions of lives, thanks to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Forget considerable goodwill in India and Africa. His good deeds, you see, don’t fit with the prescribed story line that, with Bush in charge, the rest of the world hates us.”

Outgunned

In what might be the final postmortem on the 2008 election before Tuesday’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, a 20-something conservative political consultant specializing in the use of high-tech in campaigns told an audience Friday at the Heritage Foundation just how outgunned technologically Mr. Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain, was in the campaign.

Mr. Obama’s campaign raised $500 million online and compiled a database of 13 million e-mail addresses and 2 million cell phone numbers, Mindy Finn told an audience of about 60 at the monthly gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network, The Washington Times’ Peter Parisi reports.

The Democrat’s campaign and its supporters created more than 1,700 videos posted for free on YouTube, which were watched for a combined total of 14.5 million hours.

In addition, the Obama campaign had 90 staffers devoted to the online campaign, compared with just four for Mr. McCain, Miss Finn told the gathering, sponsored by the Herndon-based Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

“They were effective using these tools,” she said, adding that Republicans and conservatives cannot “cower in fear of the Internet” and its many spinoffs, such as blogs, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

“Online organizing is not a left-of-center thing,” said Miss Finn, a partner in Engage, a cutting-edge political consulting firm, who previously served as director of “e-strategy” for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. She is also one of the driving forces behind Rebuildtheparty.com, an effort devoted to making that happen on the right. “We have to step up our efforts … [and] turn up the volume.”

If we don’t, she added, “We’re letting the left win.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce.


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