- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

JERSEY GAME

“In what could become the highest profile game of political musical chairs in the state, Democratic sources claim they are considering replacing U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg with outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine,” according to the Hudson Reporter, a New Jersey newspaper.

“It would work like this: Corzine would resign prior to January, when Republican Christopher Christie takes over as governor. A Corzine resignation would allow state Senate President Richard Codey to serve as acting governor. Then, Lautenberg would retire from the U.S. Senate, leaving Codey to name Corzine to fill the seat until a special election,” the newspaper said at www.hudsonreporter.com.

“This is similar to a move made when Corzine resigned the Senate to become governor, when he named then-Rep. Bob Menendez to fill his own seat.

“The move would prevent Christie from being able to name a replacement for the aging Lautenberg and would give Corzine a leg up as a Senate incumbent in the special election next November.”

SPEAKING OF GOVERNORS

Savvy Republican Governors Association Chairman Haley Barbour of Mississippi thinks the “tea party” anti-tax activists of 2009 will be Republican voters come 2010.

In a teleconference with reporters at the start of the RGA annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, Mr. Barbour recalled that more than 80 percent of those who voted for independent presidential candidate and budget hawk Ross Perot in 1992 voted for Republican candidates in the Republican congressional sweep of 1994.

“I don’t think there’s anything automatic in politics,” Mr. Barbour said. “Republicans just can’t take it for granted that all those [tea party] people or most of them will vote for us.”

But he recalled that the national Republican Party worked hard to woo Perot voters in the mid-1990s and predicted the party would have a similar success with tea-party voters unhappy with the Obama administration’s tax and health care policies.

With breakthrough victories in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races earlier this month, Mr. Barbour said he saw a “target-rich environment” for GOP candidates in the 37 governors’ races set for November 2010, with the RGA expecting to spend more than $25 million to back its candidates.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

“I have long thought it would be a good idea to bring 9/11 mastermind” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed “and his accomplices to lower Manhattan,” Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens writes.

“In my concept, the men would be taken by helicopter to a height of about 1,000 feet over ground zero and pushed out the door, so that they, too, could experience what so many of their victims did in the awful, final flickering seconds of their lives,” Mr. Stephens said.

“And since al Qaeda intended the attacks as a spectacle for the benefit of its would-be recruits, I’d give al Jazeera the exclusive TV rights.

This, however, is not Eric H. HolderJr.’s concept, he added. “In announcing his decision last week to send KSM and four other defendants to stand trial for their crimes in a federal courthouse just a few blocks from ground zero, the attorney general said the trial would offer the bereaved of 9/11 ‘the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in court,’ adding that he was ‘confident’ the legal system would ‘rise to that challenge.’

“We’ll see about that.

“There are a few ways to predict the course of the trials. One is to consult what al Qaeda itself advises its members to do in the event that they are brought before a judge. ‘At the beginning of the trial … the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge,’ goes a line in what is known as the Manchester Document, a 180-page al Qaeda how-to obtained by British police in 2000.

“This is, of course, a prescription for lying, though it shouldn’t be a tough sell with the jury, given that KSM was in fact waterboarded by the CIA some 183 times. If anything, it provides a perfect opening for him to turn the tables on his accusers and put the U.S. government on trial, while embellishing any which way he pleases. No small number of potential New York City jurors would find KSM a more credible witness than any number of Bush administration officials - think Alberto Gonzales or Dick Cheney - who might be called to the stand.”

THE FULL MONTY

“How low can you go? This is the question confronting the nation in the aftermath of President Obama’s deep bow to the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko last Saturday,” James W. Ceaser writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“In contrast to the greeting the president accorded to the King of Saudi Arabia in April, where spooked White House officials dismissed what looked like a full gesture of obeisance as a mere exercise in height adjustment, this time there was no ambiguity. The president executed a clear, full-scale, and unmistakable bow,” said Mr. Ceaser, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

“It was the most transparent act of his presidency - ample, sweeping, and bounteous. Yet contrary to what some malicious bloggers alleged, it was not, by Japanese standards, excessive. For a Japanese person visiting the emperor, who is the symbol of the state and the highest authority of the Shinto religion, President Obama’s dip, for a man his height, was appropriate according to local custom.

“His only flaw, commented on by Japanese observers, was to have extended simultaneously his hand. The norm is that one must choose: there is no shaking and bowing at the same time, however athletic such a maneuver might appear.

“Though largely correct in form, the president’s act poses some thorny problems for the future. Just how does one decide when and to whom a president should bow? If the president follows local custom in some cases but not others, will not some feel that they have been gratuitously insulted? What must King Abdullah be thinking this week of the (half) bow (half) disavowed that he received, compared to the full monty extended to emperor? Is the House of Saud inferior to the Japanese imperial family, or Islam less honorable than Shinto?

“And then there is the queen of England, no insignificant figure, who is not only head of state (and of the Commonwealth), but also a spiritual figure in her own right, as leader of the Church of England. Yet Her Majesty did not merit so much as a presidential curtsy, while Michelle touched her on the back.

“Does a president in this day and age bow to non-Westerners, but not to a white Christian woman? Whatever the queen’s humiliation may have been, one can rest assured she will bear it, in good British fashion, with a stiff upper lip. Besides, she has her presidential iPod, filled with Broadway show tunes, to console her.”

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

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