- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hard to define

“It has always been hard to define bipartisanship in Washington,” John Dickerson writes at www.slate.com.

“Is bipartisan legislation simply a bill that wins a certain number of votes from the minority party? Is a bipartisan politician simply one who disagrees with his or her own party? And in Barack Obama’s Washington, the term may be even harder to define. He delivered an inaugural address sharply critical of his predecessor, and then as soon as he was done, he turned around and hugged him,” Mr. Dickerson said.

“Now that Obama is working on his first big piece of legislation, we’ll get a more concrete view of the new shape of bipartisanship in Washington. Before he was sworn in, Obama told his congressional allies that he wanted broad Republican support for the stimulus package. Obama also told Republican leaders in early meetings that he knew he could ram through legislation on a simple party-line vote but that he didn’t want to do that.

“Now some Republicans, such as House Minority Leader John Boehner and Sen. John McCain, have said they intend to vote against Obama’s plan. How will Obama respond? In the face of increased opposition, how much will Obama work for bipartisanship as an end in itself?”

Man of the hour

“He’s Blago-loco!” New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser writes.

“At breakfast, the governor of Illinois with the unpronounceable surname and mop of Beatle hair compared himself to Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, too,” the columnist said.

“He also said Mother Teresa herself couldn’t save his hide. But maybe, just maybe, Oprah Winfrey might have done the trick.

“By brunchtime, the gov flirted shamelessly with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar on ‘The View.’ Joy ran her fingers lasciviously through the man’s shock of hair, while tossing her legs in the air and cackling like a hormone-crazed schoolgirl.

“[Monday] night, he did ‘Nightline’ and faced down a credulous Larry King.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m suffering from a severe case of governor envy. In New York, all we get are chief executives who love too heartily and can’t make a decision. In New Jersey, you had a gov who batted for the wrong team.

“But they don’t make ‘em the way they do in Illinois, where Rod Blagojevich still calls the shots. The people in the prairie enjoy a certifiable loon with a martyr complex and an extreme case of chutzpah.”

No party label

“On Monday’s ‘Good Morning America,’ the ABC morning show featured four segments on scandal-ridden Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And over the course of 17 minutes and 38 seconds, not one host or reporter mentioned his party affiliation,” the Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock writes at www.mrc.org.

“Co-host Diane Sawyer interviewed Blagojevich for two segments and simply referred to him as the governor or Governor Blagojevich,” Mr. Whitlock said.

“The Illinois politician, who is accused of attempting to sell the former Senate seat of now-President Barack Obama, was identified in an onscreen graphic only. It read ‘(D) Illinois.’ (A more effusive graphic, which appeared during the show’s opening tease, screamed, ‘Illinois Governor, Live!’) But neither Sawyer, nor reporter Chris Bury (who filed two additional segments on the topic), actually used the word Democrat. In fact, the only time it came up was during the second interview when Blagojevich himself referred to ‘my fellow Democrats.’”

So sorry

“The apology campaign continues from Congress as it tries to figure out why so many people with swearing-in tickets were turned away at last week’s inaugural,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Whispers has received a copy of a letter sent to House and Senate administrative directors in which the joint inaugural committee calls for a probe and offers gifts to those turned away,” Mr. Bedard said.

Here, in part, is what the letter said: “The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is aware that there were ticket entry problems with the swearing-in ceremonies. We deeply regret that certain guests were unable to witness this historic event. As a result, we have asked that the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police conduct a thorough analysis of two incidents: first, delayed or limited screening and entry to purple and blue standing areas; and second, the fact that thousands of people - many with tickets - were stuck for several hours in the 3rd Street Tunnel without the presence of any law enforcement personnel.

“If any of your staff members or constituents were involved in these incidents and have information that can be of assistance, we encourage you to have them contact the JCCIC at 202-224-2228 or at [email protected]

“For those constituents with tickets who were unable to gain access to the inauguration, the JCCIC will be distributing a special, limited printing of packets of the 56th Inaugural commemorative programs, invitations, photos of the President and Vice President, and a full color print of the Ceremony. These packets should be available within the next week. You can either direct these constituents to the feedback site where they can leave their name and address, or provide this information directly to the JCCIC staff.”

New job

“The nation’s second lady started a new job Tuesday,” White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni writes in a blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, began teaching English as an adjunct professor at the Alexandria campus of the Northern Virginia Community College,” Ms. Bellantoni said.

“A teacher for 28 years and the holder of a doctorate, Biden most recently taught English composition at Delaware Technical and Community College.

“Her decision to continue teaching was expected, but many second ladies have forgone their careers when their husbands took the oath of office.

“‘I am thrilled to return to the classroom to continue working with community college students, whom I greatly admire and enjoy teaching,’ Biden said in a statement sent out by the White House.”

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

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