- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2009

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO?

Although South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has refused to resign after admitting to adultery, a majority of state residents wish he would reconsider, according a new poll.

A Survey USA poll conducted Wednesday showed that 60 percent of South Carolina respondents said the Republican should resign his office after admitting to an extramarital relationship with a woman in Argentina. Thirty-four percent said he should stay in office, with 5 percent saying they weren’t sure.

In reference to Mr. Sanford keeping his trip this month to Buenos Aires a secret from his staff, 77 percent said the governor doesn’t have the right to take a vacation without telling staff of his location. Only 16 percent said it was OK for the governor to skip town without telling anyone.

Residents were nearly split on whether there should be a state law that would require the governor to travel with a security detail; 44 percent said yes, with 43 percent responding no.

Mr. Sanford cannot seek re-election in 2010 under South Carolina’s term-limit law.

FAMILY VALUES

“Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said this week that his battered party would be rebuilt by the nation’s Republican governors,” according to an editorial in Friday’s Las Vegas Sun. ” ‘With Democrats in control in Washington, Republicans there can’t demonstrate that Republican ideas work,’ Mr. Barbour said.

” ‘The reason governors are so important is that they can take our ideas, implement them and show they can work,’ Mr. Barbour said Tuesday in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Barbour is trying to gloss over the obvious truth: Republican ideas have failed, the party’s leadership is in chaos and as a group the Republican governors have been less than impressive.

“The most recent example is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who took off last week without telling the lieutenant governor or legislative leaders. He told his staff he was going hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but he really went to Argentina to visit a woman he had been having an affair with. On Wednesday, he admitted to the yearlong affair. So much for the family values part of the Republican platform …

“After returning from Argentina, Sanford told The State, a South Carolina newspaper, that a governor should be able to accomplish big things. ‘Unfortunately,’ said the man who was considered a contender for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, ‘I didn’t.’ ”

POLITICAL CAPITAL

Facing a rare defeat, President Obama put a big dose of political capital on the line and scored a major victory just when he needed one.

In private telephone conversations and last-minute public appeals, Mr. Obama leaned heavily on House Democratic holdouts to support the first-ever energy legislation created to curb global warming. The measure ended up passing in dramatic fashion.

In the end, the president’s furious lobbying - coupled with a final push by allies, including former Vice President Al Gore - carried much weight. To a certain extent, the victory validated Mr. Obama’s governing style - and that could bode well for his other top domestic priority, health care. He faces an even more difficult test in shepherding the energy and climate legislation through the Senate.

Mr. Obama recognizes as much.

“Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past,” Mr. Obama said in his weekend Internet and radio address. He scrapped his talk on his original topic, health care, and recorded the climate bill speech shortly after the Democratic-controlled House backed the measure on a 219-212 vote late Friday.

It was a win Mr. Obama certainly needed. Congress was getting ready for a weeklong holiday break and already health care was hanging in the balance. While his personal popularity remains strong, Mr. Obama’s overall ratings have slipped a bit. The restive nation also is wary of some of his proposals, including deficit spending as Mr. Obama pumps an enormous amount of money into the economy and elsewhere.

The narrow House vote, pushed over the top by eight Republicans, suggests potential trouble ahead with the Democratic rank and file as the White House seeks to tackle more big-ticket issues in Mr. Obama’s first year in office. Health care tops the list.

STIMULUS REDUX?

“A second stimulus? As risible as it sounds, Pres. Barack Obama entertains the idea,” according to an editorial Friday on the conservative NationalReview.com. “When asked at a press conference Tuesday if another stimulus bill might be necessary, Obama replied, ‘Not yet.’

“How about not ever? People seem to forget that the $787 billion stimulus package enacted last February was the second stimulus - the Bush administration enacted a $168 billion stimulus bill in February of 2008. Neither the Republican stimulus (weighted toward tax rebates) nor Democratic one (weighted toward spending) has delivered anything like the promised results.

“Bush’s stimulus, sold as ‘a booster shot for our economy,’ did little to boost consumer spending - consumers tended to save, not spend, their tax rebates. This result did not come as a surprise to readers of Milton Friedman, whose permanent-income theory teaches that one-time windfalls don’t have much of an impact on consumer demand. Permanent tax cuts work better as economic stimulus because people base consumption on long-term income expectations. Permanent cuts also provide incentives to work more - temporary rebates don’t….”

“If Obama wants another round of stimulus, he should try something that works: Heed the lessons of Milton Friedman, and not John Maynard Keynes.”

SWING RIGHT

“Finally, the Supreme Court has made a good decision on civil liberties,” writes Matthew Rothschild in the liberal magazine Progressive.

“The justices ruled [that] when she was 13, Savana Redding had her rights violated when school officials insisted that she be strip-searched for the possession of - hold on here! - ibuprofen.

“She had to strip to her underwear, then pull her bra and panties out and expose her privates. School officials found no drugs.

“Savana called it ‘the most humiliating experience I’ve ever had.’

“Ruling 8-1, the Justices concluded that (Arizona’s) Safford Middle School went too far.

“That’s a welcome departure for the court, which has steadily increased the authority of school districts to intrude on the rights of students, with random drug testing of athletes and anyone in extracurricular activities. The court also has invited excessive monitoring of school newspapers.

“For once, the court, almost unanimously, made a course correction.

“The only dissenter was Clarence Thomas, who after sleepwalking through 18 years on the court, has finally settled on a role for himself other than that of Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia’s second vote. And that is, to be even further to the right of Scalia. (Last week) Thomas was the sole member of the court who wanted to overturn the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“In the Redding case, Thomas defended the school, saying that ‘preservation of order, discipline, and safety in public schools is simply not the domain of the Constitution.’

“He, evidently, would have students lose all their rights when they walk through the school doors.

“I’d hate for my kid to have him as a principal.

“And I hate for my country to have him as a Justice.”

• Sean Lengell can be reached at [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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