- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

72-HOUR PUSH

“Eight Democratic senators have written Majority Leader Harry Reid and asked him to post the final health care bill on the Internet for at least 72 hours before any vote. They also want all amendments posted before they are debated,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The Democratic dissenters are picking up on an amendment first proposed by GOP Senator Jim Bunning during the Finance Committee’s deliberations on health care. Mr. Bunning said he had been inundated with complaints from voters who ‘are tired of us taking the easy way out, tired of us not reading or having the time to read the bills.’ Mr. Bunning’s amendment was voted down 12-to-11 after Finance Chairman Max Baucus said he could not waste any more time before passing a bill. Only Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln sided with the Republican minority in supporting it,” Mr. Fund said.

“She’s not alone anymore. Joining the call to slow down the health care express are six fellow Democrats: Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia. Also signing was Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent. Their letter demanding more time for the details of any bill to be considered reads in part: ‘As their democratically elected representatives in Washington, D.C., it is our duty to listen to [voters’] concerns and to provide them with the chance to respond to proposals that will impact their lives.’

“Moderate Democrats and Republicans have reason to be worried. The bill expected to be passed in the next few days by the Senate Finance Committee is likely to be completely rewritten by Majority Leader Reid, then rushed to the floor for a vote before anybody know what’s really in it. ‘Health care is too important an issue to see a telephone book-sized bill passed before people can understand it,’ says Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington state Democrat who is leading a similar attempt to have a 72-hour ‘waiting period’ imposed in the House.

“So far, the leadership of both houses has been resistant to such pleas. Backbenchers are being told simply to trust that Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi know what they’re doing in remaking the health care economy.”

JERSEY NUMBERS

“Earlier this year, Republican Chris Christie looked like a really safe bet to beat New Jersey’s incumbent governor, Democrat Jon Corzine. The polls in July showed Christie with a lead ranging from 7 to 15 percentage points,” Jim Geraghty writes at www.nationalreview.com.

“Of course, since then the former U.S. attorney has had millions of dollars’ worth of negative ads dumped on his head; one estimate calculates that Corzine is spending a million a week on television advertising. One result is unsurprising - Christie’s lead has dwindled to a mere 3 to 4 points in most polls - and another is somewhat surprising: Even with that barrage of the airwaves, it took Corzine until Tuesday of this week to garner more than 42 percent support in any poll. On that day, a Fairleigh Dickinson poll put Corzine up, 44 percent to 43 percent,” Mr. Geraghty said.

” ‘We were getting outspent ten-to-one over the summer,’ says Jay Webber, New Jersey Republican State Committee chairman. ‘We went up on TV around Labor Day, but we’re still getting outspent about three-to-one or four-to-one.’

“One result of Corzine’s air war has been a significant number of voters’ drifting to independent Christopher Daggett, who is garnering 12 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, 8 percent in the Monmouth/Gannett poll and 6 percent in Rasmussen.”

LIBERAL DNA

“Railing about Afghanistan is a loser politically, but it gets liberal juices going in a way the Baucus health care bill never will,” Eleanor Clift writes in Newsweek.

“The left is more focused on pressing President Obama not to escalate in Afghanistan than it is on convincing Congress with a real grass-roots push on health care. It’s in the party’s DNA. Liberal Democrats are more emotionally invested in war and peace issues than in sausage-like compromise on health care legislation,” the columnist said.

“The outcry after the public option disappeared as expected in the Senate Finance Committee is welcome, but too little, too late. Reform advocates sat on the sidelines while a vocal minority of opponents framed the debate around government power and captured the upper hand in the polls. The trajectory is shifting now, with polls showing substantial support for a public option, but the movement is not yet enough to affect Democrats with red-state constituencies.

“The White House tried to stir up grass-roots support. Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, sent out a stream of e-mails with the aim of keeping voters engaged, but it’s much harder to get people emotionally involved on behalf of a messy compromise than it was for a history-making candidate. The key to energizing the grass roots is a clear, concise, rifle-shot message with no ambiguity. What works best is a binary equation - you’re for or against us - the kind of Bush-era declaration that Obama instinctively recoils from.

“The binary equation for Democrats now is Afghanistan.”

WARNING LABELS

” ‘Those who can remember the past,’ Arthur Schlesinger once wrote, turning George Santayana on his head, ‘are condemned to repeat it.’ Maybe someone should tape that to the computers at the New York Times,” Peter Beinart writes at www.thedailybeast.com.

“In recent weeks, with Barack Obama rethinking his Afghan policy, the Times has been bursting with Vietnam analogies. The ‘Afghanistan is Vietnam’ stories all share a rather unconventional structure. First, the author tells you that his premise is wrong. ‘Such historical analogies are overly simplistic and fatally flawed,’ acknowledged Peter Baker a few months back, in a story entitled ‘Could Afghanistan Become Obama’s Vietnam?’ (One can only imagine the conversation between Baker and his assignment editor. Baker: ‘I have this fatally flawed idea for a piece.’ Editor: ‘Get us 1,100 words by Monday.’)

“Then, having taken confession, the writer proceeds to sin. Many parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam, Times columnist Frank Rich conceded late last month, ‘are wrong, inexact or speculative’ - before calling the parallels ‘remarkable,’ ‘eerie,’ ‘indisputable,’ and ‘uncannily’ exact. Perhaps other pundits should put this kind of warning label on their commentary. Many analogies between Barack Obama and Adolph Hitler ‘are wrong, inexact and speculative,’ Glenn Beck might concede. And then on with the show.”

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


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