- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WHIPPING BOY

“There is a brooding sense within top social conservative circles that they have become the revolving scapegoat of the Republican Party,” David Paul Kuhn writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

“Many of the longtime leaders of the Christian right, from Richard Land to Tony Perkins to Gary Bauer, expressed resentment in extended interviews with a singular theme: that the most loyal GOP bloc has been so quickly thrown under many critics’ bus,” Mr. Kuhn said.

” ‘There are powerful interest groups in the party and in the country that are trying to scapegoat social conservatives,’ said Land, who has long served as a bridge between Southern Baptists’ political concerns and GOP leadership. ‘It’s people who have no problem ignoring facts.’

“Social conservatives have proven perhaps the most loyal Republicans. [Last fall’s financial crisis] brought Democrats to new ground across red America. States from Indiana to Florida to North Carolina shifted to Barack Obama after the market crash. In this last chapter of the campaign, Obama made inroads with GOP strongholds like white men.



“But social conservatives did not budge. Only 29 percent of whites who attend church weekly backed Obama. That is the precise portion who voted for Al Gore and John Kerry. Half of all Americans who voted for John McCain were weekly church attendees. White evangelicals or born-again Christians [constituted] 42 percent of the GOP vote, according to exit polls.

“Despite their loyalty to the GOP, traditionally, after national losses, social conservatives feel like the whipping boy of GOP critics.”

OBAMA’S WAR

“Pakistan - now arguably America’s biggest headache - was barely mentioned in the long course of the U.S. presidential campaign. When the two candidates jousted over foreign policy, it was invariably over Iraq or Afghanistan - or Iran, or Israel, or China,” Tunku Varadarajan writes at www.forbes.com.

“Admittedly, on the few occasions when the word ‘Pakistan’ was uttered, Barack Obama enunciated it better than John McCain. I remember saying to friends that if Obama were to win, the U.S. would for the first time elect to the White House a man who could pronounce the word ‘Pakistan’ correctly: Paakistan - not Packistan. The Pakistanis I know noticed this, too: Foreigners sit up when Americans of consequence don’t mispronounce foreign words - especially when the foreign word in question happens to be your own country’s name,” Mr. Varadarajan said.

“Pakistan, today, is Obama’s War, in the way Iraq was Bush’s War. Although there are no U.S. troops on Pakistani soil, America has implacable enemies there, much as it has implacable enemies in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And although these Pakistani enemies of America - the Pakistani Taliban - are not engaged in direct combat with U.S. troops, there can be no doubt that their war against the fragile Pakistani state is, in fact, a war against America. For the Pakistani Taliban view the Pakistani government as an execrable puppet in the service of Washington.”

AFTER THE AFFAIR

“Elizabeth Edwards tried to undo the damage she did to herself on the ‘Oprah’ interview last week by sitting down [Monday] morning on the ‘Today’ show with Matt Lauer,” Tina Brown writes at www.thedailybeast.com.

“The first segment did the trick - it was all about cancer and the death of her son, and Elizabeth looked solid and sympathetic in her brave blue cardigan; but when she inexorably let Matt bore into John’s marital infidelity, she inexplicably blew it again. In fact, she made it worse. This time, she told Matt, she had written the book as much for the sake of her children as herself. Huh?

“Some first TV impressions are indelibly strong, and Edwards’ media blitz now is unlikely, in any case, to wipe out the ghastly car crash of her ‘Oprah’ exchange,” Ms. Brown said.

“The hazard of confessional books is how fast the world moves on while they’re written. Hearing about that doggy old ‘misdemeanor’ - as she insists on calling her husband’s infidelity with a campaign videographer while he was running for president and she was fighting terminal cancer - just drags us back into the messy aftermath of the election season at a time when we are now busy trying to get on with a collapsing economy and save our own lives.

“If she had stuck with her health and her loss, Edwards might have held on to our sympathy. But her insistence on belittling to Oprah the dreaded ‘other woman,’ Rielle Hunter, who had ‘spotted him in the hotel,’ was so embarrassingly self-righteous it almost made me feel sorry for the Democratic Twinkie John, who was always under the illusion that he was the next JFK. ‘I can’t deliver the line (“You are so hot”), because I don’t know how to deliver such a line as that,’ Edwards told us, as if this mildly juicy come-on by a campaign groupie had itself been an unspeakable vice.”

CASE CLOSED?

“A head surely had to roll in the wake of the incredibly stupid decision to fly an Air Force One backup plane and an F-16 Falcon jet fighter over Lower Manhattan last month for a White House photo-op,” the New York Post said Monday in an editorial.

“Friday, one did: The Obama administration accepted the resignation of Louis Caldera, a former secretary of the Army and director of the White House Military Office,” the newspaper noted.

“Clearly, Caldera had to go. As government foul-ups go, this one was pretty monumental.

“What an accompanying White House report on the incident - which cost taxpayers $357,00 and panicked thousands of New Yorkers haunted by memories of 9/11 - doesn’t make sufficiently clear, though, is whether others should be shown the door, too.

“The report, for one, does not explain who came up with the nutty idea for the flyover in the first place.

“Nor who was supposed to inform the public - and why that didn’t happen. The Pentagon is undertaking its own review - yet no one, it appears, is looking at the Federal Aviation Administration. Why not?

“As director of the White House Military Office, Caldera had ultimate responsibility for keeping everyone at the top in the loop. Yet Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina says he didn’t learn of the flyover until it had taken place.

“Which pretty much explains why Caldera is now out of a job.

“But where should the buck stop?

“Alas, that remains a mystery.”

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

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