- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The Rothenberg Political Report has just released its latest outlook for next year’s House races and is predicting small gains for Republicans.

“The Republican brand remains damaged, and GOP registration is down in most states, but 2009-10 surely will be a better cycle for Republicans than the last two,” lead author Stuart Rothenberg writes.

Midterm congressional elections “are almost always difficult for the party in the White House, and questions about Democratic turnout are significant. … Retirements will play a significant part in determining which party will gain seats and how many they will net. …

“Even with their 257 districts, Democrats still have a number of opportunities in seats currently held by the GOP. But they also have a considerable number of conservative and Republican seats to defend. Given possible shifting of the national political landscape, some of these districts could grow increasingly vulnerable over the next 18 months.

“It’s still far too early to put a number on net changes this cycle, though small Republican gains would seem the most likely outcome.”

Mr. Rothenberg right now sees 39 House seats in play: 13 held by Republicans and 26 by Democrats.


“Rich in symbolism, Obama’s ‘address to Islam’ is also full of political implications,” Amir Taheri writes in the London Times.

“Obama is the first major Western leader, after Bonaparte, to address Islam as a single bloc, thus adopting the traditional Islamic narrative of dividing the world according to religious beliefs. This ignores the rich and conflict-ridden diversity of the 57 Muslim-majority nations and fosters the illusion, peddled by people such as Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Islam is one and indivisible and should, one day, unite under a caliphate,” the conservative Iranian-born commentator said.

“By adopting the key element of the Islamist narrative, that is to say the division of humanity into religious blocs, Mr Obama also intends to send a signal to the Middle East’s nascent democratic forces that Washington is abandoning with a vengeance George W. Bush’s ‘freedom agenda.’ …

“In trying to prove that he is not George Bush, Barack Obama has committed big mistakes on key issues of foreign policy. His Cairo address, and his ‘one-size-fits-all’ Islam policy, is just the latest. It encourages Islamists and ruling despots, discourages the forces of reform and change and, ultimately, could produce greater resentment of the United States among peoples thirsting for freedom, human rights and decent governance.”


“A majority of Americans (54 percent) do not want to see the detainee prison facility at Guantanamo Bay closed and will be ‘upset’ with the Obama administration if it continues to move forward with plans to shut down the facility, according to a poll released [Tuesday] morning by Gallup,” Tom Bevan writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.

Mr. Bevan adds that the write-up of the poll in USA Today “didn’t give the entire picture.”

“A large majority, 65 percent, say the U.S. should not close down Guantanamo Bay. Of those, 54 percent - the number given in the USA Today article - say they will be ‘upset’ if the administration continues its plans to close down the facility, while the additional 11 percent who also believe Gitmo should not be closed down showed more indifference toward the administration pursuing its stated goal … of shuttering Gitmo by next January.

“By an even greater margin of 3-to-1, respondents said they oppose the administration’s plans to move some of the detainees to prison facilities within the United States.

“Lastly, the poll shows that Vice President Cheney clearly won the national security ‘showdown’ on Guantanamo Bay with President Obama last month. Forty percent of those surveyed agreed with Cheney’s belief that the prison at Guantanamo Bay had helped make America safer. Only 18 percent agreed with President Obama’s assertion that the housing of detainees at Gitmo had made America less safe.”


“President Obama announced the bankruptcy of General Motors [Monday] before GM’s CEO even spoke, and the feds will soon own 60 percent of the company. But whatever you do, please don’t think the government is now running GM,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

” ‘What we are not doing - what I have no interest in doing - is running GM,’ Mr. Obama said in [Monday’s] bankruptcy announcement. ‘When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision.’

“The president is so busy not running GM that he had time the night before to call and reassure Detroit Mayor Dave Bing about the new GM’s future location. GM is being courted to move its headquarters to nearby Warren, Mich., and Mr. Bing told the Detroit News that he had received a call Sunday evening from the president ‘informing me of his support for GM to stay in the city of Detroit with its headquarters at the Renaissance [Center].’

“The newspaper went on to report that ‘the mayor said he’s more secure in knowing GM will stay in Detroit, a move paved by several conversations Bing and his administration had with several top White House officials in recent days.’

“We don’t know whether GM should stay in Detroit,” the Journal said. “But we do know that the location of a company’s headquarters is one of those decisions typically not made by people who are busy not running the company.”


“At a time when the federal budget tops $3 trillion, it’s easy to see why some regard earmarks, which account for an estimated 1 percent of spending, as insignificant,” Eliza Newlin Carney writes at www.nationaljournal.com.

“But calls on Capitol Hill to rein in earmark spending may get increasingly hard to ignore. President Obama has asked Congress to restrain earmarks, and Democrats and Republicans alike are pushing bills, resolutions and investigations aimed at curbing abuses,” the writer said.

“Fanning the anti-earmark fires are scandals involving Rep. John Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat. The chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Murtha is now associated with so many pay-to-play allegations that it’s getting hard to keep up. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has even launched a Web site, ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ [www.crewsmostcorrupt.org/you-dont-know-jack], to help out.”

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

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