- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2009

DOUBLE STANDARD?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday that she was disappointed by the State Department’s recent action to revoke certain visas that will prevent key meetings between members of Congress and Honduran government officials.

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen is upset that leftist Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted earlier this year and exiled, has been allowed entry to the United States, while officials in the Central American country’s new government have not.

“It perplexes me that while the U.S. clings to dialogue with the likes of Iran, Syria and North Korea, we are quick on the draw to shut off dialogue with those elected and constitutionally appointed officials representing Honduran democratic institutions,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.

“Manuel Zelaya is allowed to traipse in and out of the U.S. to promote his newest ideas for imposing his return. Yet, when members of Congress wish to hold serious discussions with officials of the current democratic Honduran government to hear the other side of the story, we are denied.”

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, along with Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, last week extended invitations to the Honduran foreign minister, deputy foreign minister and Supreme Court president to brief Republican lawmakers on the situation in Honduras.

DRUDGE DEBATE

Will Bunch of the Huffington Post blogs on what he sees as growing racial overtones by Matt Drudge on his hugely influential Drudge Report.

“Ever since President Obama’s largely successful speech to Congress last week, the message from Drudge and from the conservative echo chorus that is conducted daily by Rush Limbaugh has become increasingly less subliminal and more shrill, and their toxic tone is one that should alarm all Americans,” Mr. Bunch writes on the liberal Web site.

“It can be summed up: ‘Black people are running amok in Obama’s America - emboldened by an African-American in the White House, they are now here to beat up white folks, cheat them out of their hard-earned money, and impose “black nationalism!” White people need to be very afraid.’

“I don’t believe that allegations of racism should be tossed out lightly, and I’ve cautiously watched this narrative unwind over the past couple of weeks. Today, there can be no doubt. The lead story on the Drudge Report for the entire day until about 2:30 p.m. - on a day in which two tabloid evergreen stories, the murder of a beautiful, young Ivy League [graduate] student and a round-up of terrorists in New York City just after the 9/11 anniversary, were in the news - is about a fight on a school bus. A nonfatal (thankfully) fight on a bus, that happened to involve black kids beating up a white kid, and was captured of course on video.”

The final proof that the Web site is involved in race-baiting, Mr. Bunch said, is Mr. Drudge’s “typically sedate headline: ‘White student beaten on school bus: Crowd cheers.’ ”

WELFARE STATE?

“When Barack Obama said he wanted to ‘spread the wealth around,’ he meant it,” writes Stephen Spruiell on the conservative National Review Online (www.nationalreview .com), quoting a new study from Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation that estimates that the president’s policies would spend $10.3 trillion on welfare programs over the next decade.

“Obama started increasing welfare spending immediately after assuming office,” Mr. Spruiell said. “The stimulus bill included $220 billion in new means-tested spending, including a little-noticed provision that repealed one of the key welfare reforms of the Clinton era.

“If Rector’s estimates are correct, Obama will spend twice as much on welfare as [President Bill Clinton] did. He is off to an incredible start. His $88.2 billion increase in welfare spending in 2009 is twice as large as any other increase in history. By the end of next year, he will have increased welfare spending by $263 billion, which is two-and-a-half times greater than any previous increase.”

REID REELING?

A new Rasmussen Reports survey shows that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trails two potential Republican challengers seeking to unseat the Democrat as he seeks re-election next year in Nevada.

The first Rasmussen statewide telephone survey of the 2010 race shows Sue Lowden beating Mr. Reid by a whopping 10 percentage points - 50 percent to 40 percent. Ms. Lowden is the chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party and the preferred candidate of the Republican Party establishment, the pollster said.

And voters prefer GOP hopeful Danny Tarkanian over Mr. Reid 50 percent to 43 percent, said the poll, which was released Tuesday. Mr. Tarkanian is a former basketball player for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and son of the school’s legendary college basketball coach, Jerry Tarkanian.

According to Rasmussen, any incumbent who polls below the 50 percent level is considered potentially vulnerable, and Mr. Reid is clearly in that category.

But don’t count Mr. Reid out, many political analysts say, as he is expected to maintain his huge fundraising advantage over his Republican challengers throughout the campaign.

And chronic miscues within the Nevada Republican Party - including a highly unpopular GOP governor and the state’s other senator, John Ensign, forced to disclose an extramarital affair earlier this year - also play in Mr. Reid’s favor.

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Monday and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Sean Lengell can be reached at [email protected].

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