- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

VITTER VS. VOINOVICH

A Southerner went on The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show Wednesday to dispute Sen. George V. Voinovich’s charge that Southerners are ruining the Republican Party.

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, disagreed with his Republican colleague from Ohio and said a return to conservative values is the best way to restore the Republican Party to political power.

“I’m on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values,” Mr. Vitter said. “There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that’s why we performed so badly in the national elections.”

Mr. Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch on Monday that the biggest problem for Republicans right now is conservative Southerners, particularly Sens.Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

“They get on TV and go ‘errrr, errrrr …’ People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re Southerners,’ ” said Mr. Voinovich, who is not seeking re-election in 2010. “The party’s being taken over by Southerners. What the hell have they got to do with Ohio?”

Mr. Vitter fired back, criticizing Mr. Voinovich for voting last week against a failed amendment sponsored by Mr. Vitter and Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, to expand Americans’ ability to carry concealed weapons.

“He’s a moderate, really wishy-washy,” Mr. Vitter said.

OBAMA VS. ISRAEL

“Legions of senior American officials have descended on Jerusalem recently, but the most important of them has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates,” John R. Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“His central objective was to dissuade Israel from carrying out military strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Under the guise of counseling ‘patience,’ Mr. Gates again conveyed President Barack Obama’s emphatic thumbs down on military force,” said Mr. Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the previous administration.

“The public outcome of Mr. Gates’s visit appeared polite but inconclusive. Yet Iran’s progress with nuclear weapons and air defenses means Israel’s military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year’s end. Israel’s choice could determine whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.

“Mr. Obama’s approach to Tehran has been his ‘open hand,’ yet his gesture has not only been ignored by Iran, but deemed irrelevant as the country looks inward to resolve the aftermath of its fraudulent election. …

“Israel rejects another feature of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic stance. The Israelis do not believe that progress with the Palestinians will facilitate a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Though Mr. Gates and others have pressed this fanciful analysis, Israel will not be moved.

“Worse, Mr. Obama has no new strategic thinking on Iran. He vaguely promises to offer the country the carrot of diplomacy - followed by an empty threat of sanctions down the road if Iran does not comply with the U.S.’s requests. This is precisely the European Union’s approach, which has failed for over six years.”

‘BETRAYAL’

“Don’t look now, but Democrats are about to abandon their commitment to a public plan option, if they haven’t already done so,” liberal pundit Bill Press writes in a blog at thehill.com.

“In every public appearance, President Barack Obama continues to push the public plan option as an essential element of any health care reform legislation. But, from the White House, different signals are being given,” Mr. Press said.

“For the second day in a row [Tuesday], press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the president was open to all options for providing more choice and more competition, including the insurance cooperatives proposed by the Senate Finance Committee. In fact, Gibbs told NBCs Chuck Todd that at this point the president had ‘no preference’ between the co-ops and the public plan option. …

“Whats going on? I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on: The White House is laying the groundwork for dumping the public plan option in order to win a few Republican votes for health care.

“If so, its a total betrayal of what the president’s been talking about.”

BIG GAMBLE

“As one of the most disciplined, on-message politicians of our time, President Obama hasn’t wavered from his audacious plans to remake entire business sectors,” Fortune magazine’s Nina Easton writes at money.cnn.com.

“But when wavering is what the U.S. economy seems to do best these days, the president confronts a new question: Does his own agenda threaten to choke off the economic recovery that he also promises - and that will define much of his legacy?” the writer said.

“Both of his legislative campaigns for the fall, health care reform and the cap-and-trade plan to curb carbon emissions, could put new burdens on a weak economy. Even supporters of the initiatives fear a GDP hit. ‘It’s a big gamble, says Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com, a proponent of health care reform, about that initiative’s impact on growth.”

EARLY RISER

“Retirement hasn’t had any impact on former President George W. Bush’s internal clock,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“Just as when he was in Washington, associates say he rises early and gets to his Dallas office virtually every day at 7 a.m. And he stays until midafternoon,” Mr. Bedard said.

“What’s there to do for eight hours? He splits his time working on his White House memoir, raising money for his presidential library and museum, and drafting those highly paid speeches that pay the rent.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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