- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ABC’s ‘INFOMERCIAL’

A plan by ABC News to run an “infomercial” in support of President Obama’s health care plan troubles at least one former White House press secretary.

Dana Perino, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, expressed surprise that ABC would risk throwing away any claim to political impartiality by going to the White House next Wednesday to broadcast “World News” and a prime-time special on the president’s national health care plan.

“Another day, another controversy about the media. The networks and newspapers continue being the subject of the news. This comes as the profession’s credibility regarding bias hangs in the balance and its business models are being upended by new ways of getting people information,” Mrs. Perino said Tuesday in a blog at NationalReview.com.

“I’ve often worked with ABC and have long admired the quality of journalism the network produces across its platforms. This decision, however, troubles me,” Mrs. Perino said.

“I like a robust debate, and finally we’re starting to see some really good reporting on the merits of the president’s reform proposals. Judging by the reaction, people don’t seem to like what they’re learning. And some may feel like they’ve not been getting the full story about how much the reforms will cost them. Now that that cat’s out of the bag, their skepticism is rising. It’s no wonder the White House wants to open its doors to ABC for a large-scale PR push.

“Perhaps ABC will help provide more clarity and ‘select’ people who will ask tough questions; however, no matter how tough the questions are, President Obama will have home-field advantage. And it’s hard not to look like you’re in the tank when you’re anchoring from the Blue Room.”

BE VERY AFRAID

The Republicans are back - and they are angry, motivated, organized and raising piles of money to win control of Congress. And they’ve got history on their side.

Who says so? The Democrats in their latest fundraising pitch.

In a fundraising appeal e-mailed to millions of party donors Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told its rank-and-file members not to believe what they’ve heard about a damaged Republican brand barely clinging to life. None of it is true, says .B. Poersch, the committee’s executive director.

“Don’t believe what you’ve heard about a GOP in disarray. They’re mad, they’re organized and they’re determined to return to what they see as their rightful place: ruling the halls of Congress,” Mr. Poersch wrote.

“How do I know? $14.4 million. That’s how much Newt Gingrich raised during a fundraising dinner last week for Republican House and Senate [campaign] committees. One speech. $14.4 million.

“They not only have cash, but also history on their side. There are only a handful of times in our nation’s past when the party that won the White House hasn’t lost big the following midterm election. That would spell disaster for President Obama’s agenda,” Mr. Poersch warns.

“Republicans are more organized than they’ve been in the past. Their fundraising machine - fed by fear tactics and smear campaigns from Newt, Rush Limbaugh and friends - is humming along,” he said.

“You and I both know that the GOP talking heads are going to be scrutinizing our fundraising totals. If we fall short of our goal, they’ll say the American honeymoon with President Obama is over. They’ll say America’s ready for a change back to Republican rule.”

Mr. Poersch added, “Click here to make a contribution of $5 or more today.”

JUDICIAL RESTRAINT

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court “has generated a healthy debate over the role of judges,” Kellyanne Conway and David McIntosh write at RealClearPolitics.com.

“Some fuel was recently added to the fire when it was discovered that the White House sent Republican U.S. senators a memo making the case that Sotomayor is ‘[a] nonideological and restrained judge.’ According to the White House, Sotomayor rejects liberal judicial activism and the injection of personal views and experiences from the bench because she ‘wrote expressly about the importance of judicial restraint’ during the confirmation process for her Second Circuit nomination.

“The memo is being distributed precisely as Sotomayor discusses her nomination with Republican senators. And it is probably no coincidence that, on the same day, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, an enthusiastic Sotomayor supporter, said that she told him she would not decide cases based on personal feelings and background, because ‘ultimately and completely … as a judge, you follow the law.’

“We are not surprised that the White House and Senate Democrats suddenly champion judicial restraint. The American people certainly do,” said Ms. Conway, president of the Polling Company Inc., and Mr. McIntosh, a former Republican congressman from Indiana.

“In a national post-election survey of 800 actual voters, the Polling Company Inc. found that 70 percent of respondents preferred that judges not base their decisions on personal views and feelings. Only 23 percent favored judges who would go beyond the law and take their own personal views and feelings into account.

“These poll numbers explain why - despite the president’s personal popularity and a 60-vote majority in the Senate - the White House must address the fact that Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the president’s standard for picking judges, as well as the standard articulated by Sotomayor throughout her career.”

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

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