- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

Should she choose to run for president in 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton could emerge assertive and possibly combative — but it’s tricky. Noisy interludes can have unpredictable results with public figures; Americans are still mulling Mrs. Clinton’s “What difference does it make?” moment during her testimony about Benghazi. But there are those who say it makes no difference.

“Is Hillary Clinton too boring to be president? This could turn into the unspoken issue of 2016 — in large measure because the Republican field is very, very interesting,” says John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine and a New York Post columnist. “Once a figure of intense controversy, Clinton has devolved into a piece of politico-cultural institutional furniture — imposing, sturdy, solid, stolid, dull. She just sits there, immobile while action swirls around her, taking up all the space in the Democratic living room. She’s now primarily famous for being famous; indeed, she is one of the best-known people on this planet, and has been for nearly a quarter-century.”

He adds that Jeb Bush is displaying some authentic skill, handsomely displayed during a foreign policy speech this week. “His rather startling command of global topics demonstrated that his last name and the money he’s raising aren’t the only reasons he’ll be a formidable candidate,” Mr. Podhoretz observes. “He is genuinely fluent, he can articulate a critique of President Obama’s foreign policy that is both hard-hitting and respectful, and he’s loose and likable and quite funny.”

NOT READY FOR JEB BUSH

Yes, there’s a 60-event “shock and awe” fundraiser blitz planned, a devoted following and much press coverage. But some already have Jeb Bush fatigue.

Among them is Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, a 7.1 million member grass-roots group centered on traditional American values. He is leery of a 2016 match between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Bush, specifically citing a 2013 Liberty Medal Ceremony, where Mr. Bush took to the stage to honor Mrs. Clinton as she received the award from the National Constitution Center.

“It’s bad enough that Hillary Clinton will likely use footage from this event against any Republican nominee, but if Jeb Bush is her opponent, she will make him look ridiculous,” he says. “Anytime Jeb calls Hillary ‘Obama 2.0,’ any criticism he makes of her awful record as secretary of state, any time he shows how much of an extremist she is on the issues, will be completely dismissed when she reminds everyone that he gave her an award for public service.”

Mr. Bozell adds, “Jeb has absolutely no credibility to criticize her, because he has already anointed her as a great public servant; and he inexplicably did so almost a year to the day of the Benghazi massacre. He will lose, and the public will have to suffer at least another four years of Obama’s policies.”

THE DEMOCRATIC NARRATIVE

The battle of 2016 is well underway, and, at the moment, the aforementioned Mr. Bush is the subject of much scrutiny by Democrats, and they are well armed with counterpoints.

“There is little evidence that Jeb Bush’s foreign policy agenda is much different than his brother’s, and in the ways it is different, it may be even worse. We know that if Jeb Bush were in charge, our brave men and women would be stationed in Iraq indefinitely. We know that Jeb Bush is leaning on more than a dozen foreign policy advisers who were the architects of George W. Bush’s cowboy foreign policy agenda that damaged the country’s reputation abroad,” proclaims Holly Shulman, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. “Embracing decisions that made the world more dangerous, and then trying to shift the blame — that’s the Jeb Bush Doctrine.”

25 VERSIONS OF DISAPPROVAL

A new CNN poll reveals that 51 percent of Americans overall now disapprove of the job President Obama is doing as president. But there are subtleties. Here are the complete findings of the survey, across 25 different demographics: 53 percent of men disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance, along with 49 percent of women, 63 percent of whites, 25 percent of nonwhites, 46 percent of those ages 18-34, 45 percent among those 35-49, 55 percent of those 50-64 and 59 percent of those over 65.

Among people who earn under $50,000 a year, 49 percent disapprove, along with 57 percent of those who make over $50,000, 56 percent of those who did not attend college and 47 percent of those who did. Sixteen percent of Democrats disapprove, plus independents (54 percent), Republicans (88 percent), liberals (26 percent), moderates (45 percent) and conservatives (71 percent).

Finally, 42 percent of residents in the Northeast disapprove, 57 percent of those in the Midwest, plus 53 percent in the South, 50 percent in the West, 43 percent of urban residents, 50 percent of suburbanites and 66 percent of rural folk.

WARREN PROCLAIMED ‘PORKER OF THE YEAR’

It may not play well in Peoria or anywhere else should she enter the White House race, but populist favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been named the 2014 Porker of the Year by Citizens Against Government Waste, a frugal-minded watchdog that monitors lawmakers and government agencies.

The Massachusetts Democrat won over six other nominees in a public poll, accruing 34 percent of the vote. The group blamed the lawmaker’s “preposterous suggestion” in a Huffington Post op-ed that the U.S. Postal Service expand into banking services — “basic bill paying, check cashing and small dollar loans” — to cure its financial woes.

An inspector general’s report within the agency had explored the possibility of offering “non-banking services,” such as credit services and savings options. “While the IG was careful to use the term ‘non-banking services,’ presumably in an attempt to prevent anyone from thinking that USPS was going to turn into a bank, Sen. Warren had no such qualms,” the watchdog points out.

In second place among the porkers: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, followed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican; Rep. Mike Rogers, Alabama Republican; Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, California Democrat; and Steven VanRoekel, the former U.S. chief information officer.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Arlington School, built in 1922, in Gastonia, North Carolina. Classic Greek Revival Style, 51,384 square feet on 3.5 acres; two-story red brick, includes gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, stage, auditorium and classrooms. Originally built for children of mill workers; under consideration by National Register of Historic Places. Needs roof and rehabilitation; “could easily include apartments, mixed use commercial, agricultural center, institutional, college satellite space, arts and crafts related studios and businesses.” Priced at $25,000 through Preservation North Carolina (PresNC.org, check under Properties heading, “commercial properties”).

POLL DU JOUR

86 percent of Americans have heard of the movie “American Sniper”; 90 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent are unsure who should win an Oscar for Best Picture; 42 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

29 percent overall say “American Sniper” should win the Best Picture award; 41 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

8 percent overall say “Selma” should win; 1 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

5 percent say “The Grand Budapest Hotel” should win; 3 percent of Republicans, 3 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 996 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 14-16.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.


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