- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

SO LONG, JOE

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is destined for the typical fate of vice presidents not named Dick Cheney, Philip Terzian writes in the Weekly Standard.

“We know this for two reasons,” Mr. Terzian said. “First, because the Obama apparatus has not even bothered to say that Joe Biden will have unprecedented responsibilities during the next four years. And second, because the only significant story to emerge about Biden since the election has been the fact — duly reported in the press — that the Bidens beat the Obamas in their quest to acquire a puppy. (For the record, Biden’s new dog is a German shepherd.)

“In fact, it may be fair to assume that Biden will be the least consequential vice president since Alben Barkley, the amiable 71-year-old Senate fixture from Kentucky, known popularly as the ‘Veep,’ who was so underwhelmed by his four years’ service in the Truman administration that he subsequently got himself elected to the Senate again.”

Mr. Terzian added: “Indeed, if there were any doubt about the insignificance of Joseph Biden in Barack Obama’s administration, it was answered with last week’s announcement that Biden would chair a special, Cabinet-level task force to assess the conditions of American middle- and working-class families. (‘Is the number of these families growing?’ asks the vice president-elect. ‘Are they prospering?’) This is close to pure Democratic boilerplate. It might have been more entertaining to put Biden in charge of a White House council on change we can believe in, or appoint him to be the logorrhea czar, but no less humiliating.”

ABORTION BAILOUT

“On the way out the door, President Bush has delivered a bailout of the domestic automotive industry, which under its current business practices could not possibly survive in a free market. President Obama, on the other hand, may see as his first task a bailout of the abortion industry,” David Freddoso writes at National Review Online (www.national review.com).

“Among the many left-wing interests that have submitted wish lists to the Obama transition team is a conglomeration of 50 abortion-advocacy groups, all of whom want the U.S. taxpayer to stand and deliver. When their 55-page report to Obama calls for an end to ‘ideologically driven government restrictions,’ it really means that the government should be paying more of the bills for groups that advocate and perform abortions,” Mr. Freddoso said.

“To provide some context, the government has been ‘bailing out’ Big Abortion for years. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, feeds off the taxpayer to the tune of $337 million in government funds that would otherwise have to come from donors. If the recommendations in this report are enacted, they and other abortion providers and advocates will have even more spoils upon which to feast. …

“The report is audacious in the scope of its demands, most of which would mean more money for the groups that authored it. In all, it calls for $1.5 billion for groups that engage in abortion advocacy and perform abortions.”

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

“Warning signs that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson would have trouble in his confirmation hearings to become Barack Obama’s commerce secretary had been multiplying for weeks. It doesn’t surprise seasoned New Mexico political observers that the two-term governor withdrew from his chance to join Mr. Obama’s Cabinet this week,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“Mr. Richardson was caught up in what has become a major grand jury investigation into possible connections between the state’s awarding of a lucrative contract and sizeable contributions a California company made to political action committees created by Gov. Richardson. While the governor himself has not been publicly implicated so far, many of his political employees have given testimony to the grand jury,” Mr. Fund said.

“Aides to President-elect Obama are already blaming Gov. Richardson for the mess, saying that when his staff was asked for information on the grand jury probe ‘nothing’ was forthcoming. But that’s exactly the kind of answer a team of vetters for a future president isn’t supposed to accept.

“The problems with Mr. Richardson should have been evident to anyone with experience in machine-run Chicago. ‘Corruption is a way of life in New Mexico,’ says local blogger and novelist S.J. Reidhead, who maintains that the state’s Democratic Party has been controlled by a corrupt machine for many decades. Perhaps it takes someone like Mr. Obama’s Chicago pals to imagine Mr. Richardson’s tainted backyard wasn’t worthy of asking blunt questions about.”

PUZZLING PHRASE

“Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are wondering exactly what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meant by her pledge to ‘govern from the middle,’” Jared Allen reports in the Hill newspaper.

“Pelosi (D-Calif.) made that promise immediately after the election that expanded her Democratic majority,” the reporter said.

“To Republicans, it does not mean increased bipartisanship.

“GOPers spent their first day as representatives of the 111th Congress vilifying the speaker — who was re-elected and unanimously supported by her caucus — for changing the rules regarding how much power the minority has to hinder the legislative process on the floor.

“‘Governing from the middle’ or bipartisanship means that Democrats and Republicans negotiate a compromise on a piece of legislation - either before it’s introduced or through the amendment process,’ said a GOP leadership aide.

“But even some Democratic officials concede that a more conciliatory legislative process was likely never what the speaker meant by governing from the middle.

“‘I haven’t seen any evidence of working from the center yet,’ said a senior Democratic aide. ‘And I think she meant governing from the center of her caucus. It is possible that she will reach out to the other side, but it’s too early to tell.’”

MS. CHAIR

A blogger known simply as Jessica, writing at www.feministing.com, reports that she is “literally giddy” because the dreaded word “chairman” and other terms deemed sexist have been banished from the U.S. House of Representatives..

“In its new package of rule changes, the House has finally decided to make its official language gender neutral, recognizing the growing representation of women in Congress (including as speaker of the House),” the blogger said. “Gone are references to ‘he,’ ‘chairman,’ and phrases such as ‘his duties.’”

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

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