- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Picking Kaine

“Expectations that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will be installed as chairman of the Democratic National Committee by President-elect Barack Obama suggest strongly that the party headquarters will continue the move by outgoing Chairman Howard Dean to expand the party beyond its old 18-state model,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Party officials say Obama’s pick of Kaine indicates that the new president both wants to reward and recognize support from traditionally GOP states like Kaine’s Virginia and to expand the party’s march into Republican territory. Kaine backed Obama very early in the Democratic primaries and helped to turn the home of the Confederacy into a Democratic state that backed Obama in the general election,” Mr. Bedard observed.

“The officials said that Kaine would be the second party chairman to move away from the old, urban-state-based approach of sustaining support in 18 key states to a more expansive approach that is likely to include outreach in Southern states and traditional Republican strongholds like Texas.

“One official said that like Obama and Dean, Kaine understands the value in toning down the harsh partisan rhetoric while reaching out to new voters. Dean’s move was controversial four years ago, but now even his critics give him credit for rebuilding the party in all 50 states, a move that the Obama campaign was able to piggyback off in its 2008 victory.”

Relaxed Bush

“Bush’s critics - and especially the left-wing haters - are going to be disappointed when they see his demeanor as he leaves his eight-year presidency,” the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes writes, describing a recent lunch he and William Kristol had with the president.

“In our conversation, he wasn’t bitter or downcast or pessimistic, nor was he boastful or disdainful. He appears comfortable with what he expects his legacy will be, including a battle against Islamist terrorists that [will] endure under President [-elect] Obama,” Mr. Barnes said.

“In recent weeks, Bush has been interviewed more than a dozen times about his years in the White House, though not by either the New York Times or The Washington Post. And there are more interviews to come, including several with Texas reporters and one this week with Brit Hume of Fox News Channel.

“During our conversation, Bush occasionally spoke off the record and several times ‘really’ off the record. He talked lightheartedly about being surprised when lectured on global warming at his first meeting with European Union leaders. He wasn’t persuaded to change his view. Now the new EU president, Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, is a global warming skeptic.

“On the Middle East, Bush said the key moment in his becoming strongly pro-Israel - unlike his father, President George H.W. Bush - was a visit in 1998 just after he’d been re-elected governor of Texas. Ariel Sharon, then Israeli settlements minister, flew him by helicopter over Israel and the West Bank. He saw firsthand, Bush says, how vulnerable Israel, a democratic ally, is to attack.”

Making history

“So, this is Change We Can Believe In?” the New York Post’s Charles Hurt writes.

“It’s more like the same old change we’ve heard jingling in the pockets of politicians since the beginning of time. And it’s the same dirty change that has landed the bums in jail since the beginning of democracy,” Mr. Hurt said.

Barack Obama hasn’t even made history yet by getting into the White House, but he’s already making history for the number of serious scandals between his election and his inauguration.

“First, it was Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Obama’s old pal and political ally. Now New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson - Obama’s pick for commerce secretary - bails out amid a grand jury investigation into how a major political donor snared a lucrative contract from the state.

“At this rate, Obama will be lucky to have any friends left after his first 100 days in office.

“And what about all the grand promises Obama made after his election about meticulously fly-specking every one of the people he plans to put in his administration to avoid improprieties or even the appearance of them?

“They vetted Richardson and didn’t smell this little federal investigation?

“So let’s just put him in charge of the nation’s economy. That’s not a very important position.

“Obama ran for president and won handily on the promise that he is a new kind of politician, carrying a voice directly from the people. And he promised an open and honest government. People gave Obama the benefit of the doubt and decided not to hang the words and deeds of others on him.

“But at some point, it all becomes much more serious. It becomes the grave issue of judgment and knowing whom you can trust. Obama has allowed himself to be surrounded by some seriously flawed people.

“If you are known by the company that you keep, then Obama needs to find him some new friends.”

She’s back

Ann Coulter is at it again,” Myrna Blyth writes at www.wowowow.com.

“‘Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America’ (Crown Forum), the newest book from the leggy, blonde, irritatingly slender liberal-basher hits bookstores this week and is already climbing Amazon’s bestseller list. And so the usual media Ann-a-rama has begun with Coulter launching the book on her pal Sean Hannity’s radio and TV shows. She’ll be on ‘Today’ on Tuesday and will follow that with countless interviews,” the writer said.

“I talked to Coulter about ‘Guilty’ as she was about to embark on her media tour. The book is (no surprise) another in her attacks against liberals. Her thesis this time is that liberals always act like they are being victimized, primarily by the Republican Attack Machine. While in fact, they, with the help of a very biased media, tend to victimize all who disagree with them.

“She has written about media bias before. ‘I really didn’t intend to make the book so much about the media,’ she told me, ‘but I just couldn’t help it because the media has so much power. They like to act as if they are powerless, but everything today is about the media. I just had to point out all their dirty little tricks. If you are Paul Revere you have to sound the alarm.’

Miss Coulter, in the interview, was a little softer in describing the president-elect: “Judging by his Cabinet choices, Obama may not be as crazy as I thought he was. That may be worse for my career but better for the country.”

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

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