- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

DODD’S SLIPPAGE

“Republican political operatives are positively euphoric about the AIG bonus scandal’s impact on the already fading re-election hopes of Sen. Chris Dodd,” Wall Street Journal editorialist Stephen Moore writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“Even before the scandal, the Senate Banking Committee chairman was saddled with sub-50 percent approval ratings in part because of his sweetheart loan deal with Countrywide mortgage company. But Mr. Dodd’s bungling of the AIG bonuses has caused a further erosion of his Connecticut voter support - especially once it became clear Mr. Dodd had attempted to cover up his role in protecting the bonuses legislatively. As D. Dowd Muska, a policy and political expert in Connecticut, tells me: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a powerful [federal elected official] lose so much support in his home state so fast.’

“The polls reflect that slippage. Mr. Dodd’s approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month, was already 46 percent - putting him in the ‘very beatable’ category, according to pollster Chris Wilson of Wilson Strategies.

“Even more troubling for Democrats is that potential Republican rivals are about even with Mr. Dodd right now. Against Rob Simmons, a moderate former House member, Mr. Dodd gets 42 percent of the vote. Against Sam Caligiuri, a conservative state legislator, Mr. Dodd scores 47 percent. And most intriguing of all is the possibility of a Larry Kudlow candidacy - which we first reported here several weeks ago. Against the Reaganite CNBC TV host, Mr. Dodd gets only 46 percent of the vote.”



BLAGO’S WARNING

“The news coming out of the state capital in Illinois slowed following the impeachment and removal of disgraced Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But a proposal from newly installed Gov. Pat Quinn to dramatically increase tax rates has put the spotlight back on Springfield,” Kristina Rasmussen writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“It turns out that Blago is Illinois’ very own Cassandra. He predicted that the state’s Democratic leaders would push for a massive tax hike if he was removed from office, and he was spot on - even if taxpayers didn’t want to believe it,” said Miss Rasmussen, who is executive vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute.

“Quinn, Blagojevich’s one-time lieutenant governor, is seeking to close a growing budget deficit by increasing the state’s personal income-tax rate by an incredible 50 percent. He’s expected to receive support from the state’s General Assembly, where both chambers are controlled by his fellow Democrats.

“Many observers are stunned by the low income levels at which the tax hike would take effect. Even with a higher personal exemption, a single taxpayer making as little as $14,000 would see a tax hike. Couples making more than $28,000 also would have to pay more in taxes, as would families of three earning in excess of $42,000.

“And Quinn’s plan doesn’t just hike personal income taxes. It also would increase the state’s corporate income-tax rate (making it the fourth-highest rate in the nation) and elevate taxes on cigarettes and automobile-licensing fees.

“At the same time, Quinn intends to continue the state’s reckless spending streak.”

DISINGENUOUS

“At his press conference Tuesday, President Obama was his usual assured and nimble self. He is one of the most graceful and appealing political communicators to appear on the national stage in my lifetime. He is, also, one of the more artfully dishonest ones,” Mark Salter writes at AmericaSpeakOn.org.

“He used a question about the uncertain prospects for a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to emphasize his persistence. According to the president, he professes a ‘whole philosophy of persistence,’ and he cited several of his initiatives in which he calmly adhered to that philosophy while impatient critics carped about their lack of immediate success. Among the examples, this: ‘When it comes to Iran … we did a video, sending a message to the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And some people said, well, they did not immediately say that they were eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism.’

“Now, there are certainly critics of the president’s approach to Iran who worry it is based more on wishful thinking than the hard-headed realism he promised to restore to America’s foreign policy. And some of those might have seen his videotaped Nowruz greetings to Iran as evidence of his naivete. But to the best of my knowledge, not even his most outspoken and implacable detractors insisted it produce Iran’s immediate disarmament and a cessation of its support for terrorism,” said Mr. Salter, who managed Sen. John McCain‘s presidential campaign.

WAR ON WORDS

“The Obama administration has made great changes in the way we handle national security. And judging by its actions so far, it seems that the most important failing of the previous administration has been in semantics,” J.G. Thayer writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine .com.

“The changes started with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano deciding that the word ‘terrorism’ was too harsh. She has made a point of not using it, opting instead for ‘man-caused disasters.’

“That was merely phase one. The next logical step was to find a new term for the ‘War on Terror.’ The proffered substitute? ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’

“I was never in love with the term ‘War on Terror.” Terrorism isn’t the enemy, it’s a tactic of an enemy. Referring to the War on Terror is like referring to World War II as the ‘War on Blitzkrieg’ or ‘War on Kamikazes.’ ‘War Against Islamist Extremists’ seemed a bit more accurate - if a bit on the nose.

“But ‘Overseas Contingency Operation’? …

“It’s almost laughable. The Obama administration thinks the best way to fight terrorists is to change the way we talk about them - and for most Islamic terrorists, English isn’t their native language,” the writer said.

“It would be truly laughable - but the focus on language will most likely come at the expense of action.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce.

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