- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

LOSS OF CONFIDENCE

“On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to question Attorney General Eric Holder about his decision to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others in criminal courts rather than military tribunals. As the father of Todd Beamer, who died on United Airlines Flight 93, I was able to attend that hearing. What transpired caused me great concern and shook my confidence in our current administration,” David Beamer writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“The committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), displayed the division in our country, not only visually - the Democrats were seated on the left and the Republicans on the right - but in every aspect of the proceedings. I expected that some members would agree with Mr. Holder and that others would have challenging questions about his decision. What I did not anticipate was the level of partisanship showed by the majority party. It seemed clear to me and other family members of victims that party loyalty is trumping concern for America’s security interests,” Mr. Beamer said.

“In his opening remarks, Attorney General Holder acknowledged that these defendants could have been brought to trial in civilian court or before military tribunals. But he made the argument that trying them in our criminal courts would restore the integrity of our judicial system. He assured us that the trials would be quick, that the safety of New Yorkers would be paramount, that classified information would not be revealed, that the evidence was overwhelming, and that justice would be served.

“Then he said that the USS Cole attackers would be tried in military courts since they attacked our military. So how does Mr. Holder categorize the Pentagon? Inexplicably, he offered up the body count of 9/11, the fact that civilian deaths outnumbered military ones, as a rationale for his decision.”

DITHER, DITHER

“Barack Obama, who once had his own electric book tour testing the waters for a campaign, could learn a thing or three from [Sarah] Palin,” New York Times columnist Maureen Down writes.

“On Friday, for the first time, his Gallup poll approval rating dropped below 50 percent, and he’s losing the independents who helped get him elected,” Miss Dowd said.

“He’s a highly intelligent man with a highly functioning West Wing, and he’s likable, but he’s not connecting on the gut level that could help him succeed.

“The animating spirit that electrified his political movement has sputtered out.

“People need to understand what the president is thinking as he maneuvers the treacherous terrain of a lopsided economic recovery and two depleting wars.

“Like Reagan, Obama is a detached loner with a strong, savvy wife. But unlike Reagan, he doesn’t have the acting skills to project concern about what’s happening to people.

“Obama showed a flair for the theatrical during his campaign, and a talent for narrative in his memoir, but he has yet to translate those skills to governing.

“As with the debates, he seems resistant to the idea that perception, as well as substance, matters. Obama so values pragmatism, and is so immersed in the thorny details of legislative compromises, that he may be undervaluing the connective bonds of simpler truths. …

“If we could see a Reduced Shakespeare summary of Obama’s presidency so far, it would read:

“Dither, dither, speech. Foreign trip, bow, reassure. Seminar, summit. Shoot a jump shot with the guys, throw out the first pitch in mom jeans. Compromise, concede, close the deal. Dither, dither, water down, news conference.

“It’s time for the president to reinvent this formula and convey a more three-dimensional person.”

COOKIE MAN

“Scott Gration is an embarrassment,” the New Republic says in an editorial.

“As Barack Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, Gration has a dual mission: to help win justice and peace for the nearly 3 million Darfuris who currently live in camps after being subjected to genocide by Sudan’s government; and to prevent that same odious government from initiating another slaughter in southern Sudan, where a 2005 peace agreement is looking more tenuous by the day,” the liberal magazine said.

“How is he doing? Since taking the job in March, Gration has gone about ingratiating himself to the Sudanese government - an odd choice given that the government is a genocidal one. He seems interested only in offering Khartoum incentives, even though it has provided him basically nothing in return. He has pressed Congress to ease sanctions on Sudan. He has met with an American lobbyist for the Sudanese government. He has endorsed an absurd demand issued by Khartoum concerning an upcoming vote on South Sudanese independence.

“He has lamented to The Washington Post that many Darfuris distrust the government because of ‘psychological stuff.’ Explaining to The Post how he wants to deal with Sudan’s rulers, he said: ‘We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries - they react to gold stars, smiley faces, talk, engagement.’ This is both astonishingly offensive (why would one give ‘cookies’ to a government that has recently killed hundreds of thousands of its own people?) and strikingly impractical: Most observers of Sudan agree that Khartoum has historically responded to sticks, while viewing carrots as an invitation to continue orchestrating violence.

“And that is what seems to be happening this time as well.”

IMAGINARY SLUR

“In retrospect, I suppose I should be surprised it took as long as eight months for someone to accuse me of racism in my criticism of Barack Obama,” Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch writes.

“After all, by Sept. 11, when Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh wrote that my ‘strange slur’ against the president was a textbook example of ‘the racial nuttiness that Obama faces,’ just about every person loudly opposing the administration’s economic policies had already been tarred with the same brush.”

Mr. Welch added: “My racist slip? In a throwaway line and hyperlink, I had compared Obama’s warning to those spreading lies about his health care plan - ‘We will call you out’ - to the chorus of a new Snoop Dogg song I’d been listening to in heavy rotation: ‘We will shut you down.’ Where my mind registered the similarity of two five-syllable phrases containing three of the same words, Walsh’s projection of my mind saw ‘totally gratuitous racial imagery’ and the implication that Obama emulates gangsta rappers.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/635-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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