- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mormon play

When President Obama picked Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to be U.S. ambassador to China, talk about his qualifications focused on such cultural matters as his fluency in Mandarin, his time as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan and his adopted Chinese daughter.

But Al Giordano at the Field saw 2012 presidential politics, long-standing religious-cultural issues and a Democratic play for the Mormon vote.

“Mitt Romney is technically the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. He’s got the money, a national organization, and the on-camera talent and political experience to handle the national spotlight. Ideologically, his positions line up pretty perfectly with the conservative GOP platform. If any Republican ‘deserves’ it for having paid his dues loyally to the party, it’s Mitt. And yet it’s extremely unlikely that the said GOP base - we’re talking mainly white Southern Baptists here - is going to get over its Mormonphobia in just three years enough to make that possible.

“The appointment of Huntsman is thus, politically, a slam dunk. When GOP primary voters inevitably reject Romney once again in the 2012 primaries and caucuses outside of the Mountain West, the resentment - already boiling after last year’s adventures in presidential politics - among rank-and-file Mormons that the party to whom they’ve given so much still doesn’t really want them in the Master’s house rather than the servant’s quarters, will sting. Meanwhile, another of their prominent citizens will likely still be Obama’s man in Beijing, proof that somebody in American politics isn’t dissing the LDS and its members.”

Daniel Larison at his American Conservative blog Eunomia said the move was smart in terms of foreign-policy politics, but was more skeptical of Mr. Giordano’s thesis applied to electoral politics, noting that habitual disrespect from the Republican establishment hasn’t altered evangelical behavior.

Mr. Huntsman’s joining suggests “not only that the administration has captured the foreign policy center, as I was arguing earlier this week, but that those Republicans who might be best qualified to try to take it away from Obama are moving out of electoral politics and into diplomatic service on behalf of Obama’s administration.”

But “evangelicals have been dissed and dismissed inside the coalition for decades, but they keep showing up and backing the party more actively than any other single group, so it is unlikely that Mormon voting patterns are going to change dramatically in the near future.”

Double standard

It’s been more than two weeks since ABC News reported the names and showed the pictures of two CIA contractors who may have had a role in the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah.

Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard asked “Will the Obama administration investigate who leaked their identities?” Conservative blogger Sweetness and Light asked, “Remember the outcry when the CIA desk jockey Valerie Plame was outed by her publicity hound hubby Joe Wilson? Where are the cries for investigation? For Congressional Hearings?”

It’s been more than two weeks.

Joe being Joe

Speaking of outing, one would think that if a person had a secret location where he could hide in an emergency, then this person himself would place the highest premium on keeping the secret location secret.

And then there’s Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

At a recent Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, Mr. Biden told others at his table, including Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, about a secret bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory.

“Joe Biden reveals the bunker-like room is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, where Cheney lived for eight years and which is now home to Biden. The veep related the story to his head-table dinner mates when he filled in for President Obama at the Gridiron Club earlier this year. He said the young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment,” Ms. Clift told Newsweek’s blog, the Gaggle.

“Why Don’t You Just Give Them The Nuke Codes, Joe?” asked incredulous gun-rights blogger Curtis Lowe.

A conservative Philadelphia fireman who blogs as “Captain America” said, “Holy cow, this guy needs to go,” before warming to his subject.

“It used to be funny when Biden would make ‘Verbal gaffes.’ It was usually good for a laugh watching him insult immigrant convenience store workers or some other such blather… . But it’s not funny anymore. Now Biden is revealing classified information, state secrets. His blunders may put future Vice Presidents, their families and staffs at risk in the event of a national crisis. It is time for him to offer his resignation before he does serious damage to the President.

“As Al Gore likes to say, there is no need to debate the issue any further, the facts are in. With every new gaffe, the Sarah Palin detractors sink further into a credibility gap.”

Back in the USSR

Riot police in Moscow broke up a gay-pride parade Saturday, after foreign activists picked the weekend for maximum publicity because the Russian capital was hosting the Eurovision song contest.

Reports of arrests ranged the official count of 40 to unofficial claims of more than 80. Shannon Bell at Right Pundits noted that police went after people “just for speaking with reporters; police even ripped the bra and shirt off of one protestor. … ”

Conservative blogger Don Surber couldn’t resist the obvious joke: “Will Perez Hilton go there and tell the cops off? No,” though he went on to note that this “is good because I don’t want to see even a misogynist like him” get beaten up.

Ms. Bell saw a message for gay activists next time they complain about oppression in the U.S.

“I agree that homosexuality does destroy the moral foundations of a society, as well as abortion, racism, etc. But as a freedom loving conservative, I feel that these people have as much right to protest and demonstrate as much as any other group. The next time you liberals want to bash the United States of America, you should take a look at this story about the blatant discrimination of Moscow riot police towards this gay pride event and thank your lucky stars you live in the greatest country in the world.”

Victor Morton can be reached at [email protected]

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