- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2009

LEGAL DAGGER

“Take the iconic ‘I Love New York’ poster and plunge a dagger into its heart. That’s what the Obama administration is doing by bringing the mastermind of 9/11 and other terror freaks here for trial,” New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“We don’t deserve this. Why are we being punished again?” Mr. Goodwin asked.

Attorney General Eric H. HolderJr.’s decision to ship Khalid ShaikhMohammed “and four other Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Manhattan for federal trials is beyond bad judgment.”

“It is a radical call that puts his leftist legal theories over public safety and common sense. The war on terror is being relabeled as a crime problem, in the very shadow of Ground Zero.

“Mohammed and his murderous crew don’t belong in civilian courts, where they will get defendant rights designed for ordinary criminal suspects. They declared war on our nation, were captured on foreign battlefields and deserve no presumption of innocence or other constitutional protections.

“They’ll use our liberties to turn the trial into propaganda for their warped cause. Their images and words will fly around the world as fodder for a new generation of jihadists. The federal courthouse and detention center will become a fortress. The judge, prosecutors, witnesses, federal agents and jury will need protection, some for years. It’s madness.”

BLUNT LOGIC

“The president has been taking time thinking about Afghanistan,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.opinion journal.com.

“I cannot see why this is bad. If he’s really thinking, he’s not dithering - thought can be harder than action, weighing plans as hard as choosing and executing one. A question of such consequence deserves pondering. A president ought to summon and hear counsel before committing or removing American troops,” Miss Noonan said.

“The president is not, apparently, holding serious discussions with the most informed and concerned Republicans from Capitol Hill and what used to be called the foreign-policy establishment, and this, if true, is bad. The cliche that politics stops at the water’s edge is a fiction worth preserving. It’s a story that ought to be true, and sometimes is true.

“There seems to be something in this president that resists really including the opposition. Maybe it’s too great a sense of self-sufficiency, or maybe he’s bowing to the reigning premise that we live in a poisonously partisan age, that the old forms and ways no longer apply. But why bow to that? To bow to it is to make it truer. The opposition is full of patriots who wish their country well. Bow to that.

“All will depend on the outcome. If his decision is sound and ends in success, history will not say he was indecisive and Hamlet-like. If his decision results in failure, history will not celebrate his wonderfully cerebral deliberative style.

President Obama will tell us his decision soon, probably in a speech. Because it will be big, and high-stakes, there will be people telling him he must do many things, including tug at the nation’s heartstrings and move it with his vision. He really shouldn’t do this.

“Now of all times, and in this of all speeches, sheer, blunt logic is needed. He must appeal not to the nation’s heart but to its brain.”

ODD THINKING

“Democratic health care reform - Obamacare, that is - in either its House or Senate form is unpopular both in general and in most of its particulars,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“Not only that, it’s become ever more unpopular as Obama has drawn more public attention to it. Yet the operating assumption of the president and congressional Democrats is that enacting Obamacare will increase their popularity and improve their prospects for re-election,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Does this make sense? Will passing a widely disliked piece of legislation endear voters to those who passed it? Not on your life.

“And Obama and Democrats have also embraced the flip side of their dubious calculation. They believe the worst thing that can happen is failing to pass Obamacare or something close to it, or at least something. Just look what happened to Bill Clinton and Democrats when they failed to enact Hillarycare in some form or other. They lost the 1994 election in a Republican landslide.

“In case anyone had forgotten, Clinton appeared at a lunch of Senate Democrats last week to remind them. ‘It’s not important to be perfect here,’ Clinton said. ‘It’s important to act, to move, to start the ball rolling. The worst thing to do is nothing.’

“Really? Polls now show the public prefers doing nothing to passing Obamacare.

“The explanation for the seemingly illogical thinking of Obama and Democrats lies in the basic conceit of liberals: We know better. Sure, folks may like their current health care, but we’ll give them a better, fairer, more reliable system that’s good for them and the country. They’ll grow to like it. And Obama and Democrats will get the credit and the boost in popularity that comes with it.

“Maybe they’re right - no, perish the thought. Health care reform is only the leading edge of the most unwanted, voter-unfriendly agenda a president has ever proposed and fought for. The stimulus, cap and trade, vast spending programs, re-regulation, record deficits, more power concentrated in Washington, Guantanamo - these aren’t going to make Obama and Democrats more popular either.”

NOT GOING AWAY

“When health care reform passed the House by just two votes … I assumed Speaker Nancy Pelosi had several more votes in her pocket from Blue Dogs who would be there if she needed them. After all, that’s how Washington works,” Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift writes.

“I also figured I shouldn’t get too worked up about the restrictive amendment on abortion that was added at the last minute, because it would be stripped from the legislation when it went to conference and was merged with the Senate bill,” Mrs. Clift said.

“It took just a little reporting for me to discover how wrong my initial assessments were. Even though the Democrats control the House by a substantial margin, Pelosi had no cushion with 40 conservative Blue Dogs threatening to bolt over taxes and abortion, and a quarter of House Democrats self-identifying as strongly pro-life.

“Given these political hurdles, ditching the amendment advanced by pro-life Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak is unlikely. The best the pro-choice community can hope for is compromise language that doesn’t go as far as the Stupak-Pitts amendment. The prospect of a Democratic Congress curtailing reproductive rights as a price for health care reform is yet another reality check for those of us who thought Democratic control of Congress and the White House heralded a new day for progressive policies.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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