- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2009

HA-HA

“Say, did you hear the one about the congressman who was asked to do his job? Talk about funny - this will crack you up!” Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes.

“Well, maybe it won’t. But Steny Hoyer thought it was hilarious,” Mr. Jacoby said.

“Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, is the majority leader in the House of Representatives. At a news conference last week, he was talking about the health care overhaul being drafted on Capitol Hill, and a reporter asked whether he would support a pledge committing members of Congress to read the bill before voting on it and to make the full text of the legislation available to the public online for 72 hours before the vote takes place.

“That, reported CNSNews, gave Hoyer the giggles: The majority leader ‘found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. “Im laughing because … I dont know how long this bill is going to be, but its going to be a very long bill,” he said.’

“Then came one of those classic Washington gaffes that Michael Kinsley famously defined as ‘when a politician tells the truth.’ Hoyer conceded that if lawmakers had to carefully study the bill ahead of time, they would never vote for it. ‘If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadnt read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,’ he said. The majority leader was declaring, in other words, that it is more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.”

LONG FACES

“The air is seeping out of the Great Liberal Hot Air Balloon,”William Kristol writes in the Weekly Standard.

“American liberals have been hoping, wishing, and praying - OK, maybe not praying - for over a quarter-century for an end to the ghastly interlude of conservative dominance ushered in by Ronald Reagan. Surely it was all a bad dream, a waking nightmare, a bizarre deviation from the preordained path of history.

“With the Democratic congressional victories in November 2006, the nightmare seemed to be ending. And in November 2008, with the election of Barack Obama and increased congressional majorities, it seemed to be over. A new era had dawned.

“But did it? Maybe we’re now experiencing a liberal interlude, not a liberal inflection point. After all, only six months into the new administration, even a talented hot air blower like President Obama, assisted by friendly gusts of wind from the media, is having trouble keeping the liberal blimp afloat,” Mr. Kristol said.

“The stimulus hasn’t worked. Cap-and-trade and health care reform are in trouble. The can’t-we-all-get-along foreign policy isn’t leading to a more peaceful world. And the administration seems to have no idea what to do about Guantanamo.

“Congressional Democrats are nervous. Even Obama’s media base is concerned. At the end of last week, three leading Obamaphiles offered their lamentations. ‘The fact is, Obama may be blowing a major opportunity for reform,’ worried Joe Klein. ‘There’s now a real risk that President Obama will find himself caught in a political-economic trap,’ warned Paul Krugman. ‘Failure. Overwhelming, amazing failure,’ was David Brooks‘ take on the administration’s effort to deal with health care inflation - something the president is (according to Brooks) ‘fervently committed to reducing.’

“Why such long faces? Because they realize that, despite the financial meltdown on the Bush administration’s watch and the errors of omission and commission by the GOP over the last decade, the American public hasn’t fundamentally rethought their turn in 1980 away from big government liberalism.”

SMART MOVE

“The pundits are wrong. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Sarah Palin’s decision to step down as Alaska governor was a brilliant move,” Willie Brown writes in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Palin has some of the best political instincts I have ever seen. She became a pop-culture superstar overnight when John McCain made her his veep pick, and she’s still second only to President Obama among politicians the public is interested in. Even in liberal San Francisco, she’d be front-page news if she ever came to town,” said Mr. Brown, who served as speaker of the California State Assembly for many years and later as mayor of San Francisco.

“But that kind of celebrity comes at a high price. What a lot of people don’t know is that Palin entered Alaska politics as a reformer attacking the corruption of the state’s Republican establishment. As such, she was the darling of the Democrats - until she hooked up with McCain.

“After the election, with Palin back home but positioning herself for a 2012 presidential run, it was clear she would catch nothing but ridicule from Alaska’s Democrats. It was not going to be pretty.

“If Palin wants to play on the national field, she has to be free to move around. She has to be able to drop into Indiana, Ohio or Tennessee and help Republican candidates raise money. She has to be available for radio and TV. …

“The pundits call her a quitter, but let’s be honest - the pundits never liked her to begin with. Better to take one hit for stepping down and move on than to stay in Alaska and die a death by a thousand cuts.”

RUNAWAY THEORY

“The moves now being made by the world’s political establishment to lock us into December’s Copenhagen treaty to halt global warming are as alarming as anything that has happened in our lifetimes,” London Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker writes.

“Last week in Italy, the various branches of our emerging world government, G-8 and G-20, agreed in principle that the world must by 2050 cut its CO2 emissions in half. Britain and the U.S. are already committed to cutting their use of fossil fuels by more than 80 per cent. Short of an unimaginable technological revolution, this could only be achieved by closing down virtually all our economic activity: no electricity, no transport, no industry,” Mr. Booker said.

“All this is being egged on by a gigantic publicity machine, by the U.N., by serried ranks of government-funded scientists, by cheerleaders such as Al Gore, last week comparing the fight against global warming to that against Hitler’s Nazis, and by politicians who have no idea what they are setting in train.

“What makes this even odder is that the runaway warming predicted by their computer models simply isn’t happening. Last week, one of the four official sources of temperature measurement, compiled from satellite data by the University of Huntsville, Ala., showed that temperatures have now fallen to their average level since satellite data began 30 years ago.”

SWINE FLU

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will announce Monday that Washington has approved another billion dollars to buy components of the swine flu vaccine.

Mrs. Sebelius, in an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said research was under way to provide a safe and effective vaccine to fight a flu strain that could be a pandemic.

Mrs. Sebelius and other top officials are bracing for fall’s flu season. She says leaders are watching the Southern Hemisphere for clues how serious the U.S. flu season might be.

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

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