Monday, June 2, 2008

Ripe for shredding

“WhenHouse Minority Leader John Boehner is asked whether his party needs to distance itself from George W. Bush, he likes to point out that the president isn’t on the ticket this fall. True. Several hundred incumbent GOP members of Congress are, however, and don’t think John McCain hasn’t noticed,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“With Congress’s approval rating at record lows, the time is ripe for a slam campaign.Barack Obama won’t do it, since his Democratic colleagues are running the joint. But it’s a huge opportunity for Mr. McCain, who could play Congress’ failings off his promises for reform. Even as Republicans sagely warn their nominee to distance himself from the president, they’re beginning to see that his more productive option might just be to throw them - and Congressional Democrats - under the Straight Talk bus,” the writer said.

“Mr. McCain could take encouragement from history. Harry Truman managed a 1948 victory by trashing the ‘Do Nothing Congress.’ UpstartBarry Goldwaterin 1952 told Arizonans that Majority Leader Ernest McFarlandrepresented the mess in Washington, and snatched the Democrat’s seat. Tom Daschle followed McFarland, after being pilloried for turning the Senate into a dead zone.

“Today’s Congress is ripe for a shredding. The GOP kicked off an era of public disgust with its corruption and loss of principle, a reputation it has yet to shake. Democrats have, impressively, managed to alienate voters further with inaction and broken promises. Congress has come to represent the institutional malaise that so frustrates voters. That distaste explains this year’s appetite for ‘change.’”

The bad news

“Nothing describes Barack Obamabetter than the cliche about a man facing good news/bad news. The good news for Obama is that he is getting a first-rate education on what it means to be commander in chief. The bad news - his teacher is John McCain,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“Even before he clinches the nomination, a flurry of McCain attacks over Iran, Iraq, Cuba and military leadership has exposed Obama’s soft underbelly on national security. The effective barrage is a testament to how the primary battles never tested the rookie Democrat on whether he is ready to be commander in chief,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“In Prof. McCain’s class, Obama is slowly making progress, but remains far below grade average. It’s not certain he can catch up by November’s final exam, where the threshold issue is the public’s confidence a candidate can and will defend America. Perceived weakness is a disqualifier.

“The problem for Obama, beyond his lack of experience, is that his instincts are those of the Perfect Liberal by way of Harvard Law School. LikeBill Clinton’s clumsy attempts to salute when he first won the Oval Office, Obama exhibits discomfort about things military. He is a peacenik by gut and, as critics note, drew the wrong lessons about Cold War talks JFK and Ronald Reagan had with the Soviets.

“That didn’t matter during the primary battle, where Obama’s early opposition to Iraq was a defining difference against Hillary Clinton. But doubts about his national security bona fides are already a handicap in the nascent general election.”

Priest apologizes

The Chicago priest whose comments mocking Hillary Rodham Clinton reignited the controversy over Barack Obama’s former church stood before his own parishioners yesterday and apologized.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger said he isn’t racist or sexist and called the past few days “the most painful” of his life, the Associated Press reports.

“I apologize for anyone who was offended and who thought it to be mockery,” he said at his church, St. Sabina’s. “That was neither my intent nor was it my heart.”

Outrageously true

“There are some facts that are so politically incorrect, that people will be punished merely for mentioning them,” David Warren writes in the Ottawa Citizen, a Canadian newspaper.

“We saw a particularly crisp example of this last week, when Advertising Standards Canada ruled that a billboard advertisement by LifeCanada was ‘deceptive,’” Mr. Warren said.

“The billboard marked the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Morgentaler decision, which removed all legal restrictions on abortion in Canada. The ad stated, in full: “9 months. The length of time an abortion is allowed in Canada. Abortion. Have we gone too far? www. Abortionin”

“It doesn’t get simpler than this. ASC ruled that it was ‘deceptive’ to state this plain fact as a fact. The explanation that followed was that the billboard did not deal with ‘access’ issues. The anonymous tribunal further contested, quite incoherently, references to Statistics Canada on the Web site that were themselves factually correct.”

More veterans

“At least 20 Republican and 10 Democratic veterans of the Iraq war are running for Congress this year - more than double the number that ran in 2006, according to Iraq veterans groups,” reportsLisa Hoffman’s Washington Call column for Scripps Howard News Service.

“In that election, almost all the candidates were Democrats and war critics. Only one -Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa. - won. Since then, the GOP has stepped up efforts to recruit contenders, most of whom describe themselves as ‘pro-victory’ in Iraq. Murphy’s GOP opponent this year is Tom Manion, a former Marine whose son was killed while serving in Iraq.”

Good catch

Barack Obama played it safe and quit when he was ahead in the count. At least when flying pancakes were the prize.

At a pancake breakfast yesterday with veterans and military families in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Democratic presidential nominee accepted a challenge to catch tossed pancakes. He took a few steps back from the grill and held out his paper plate expectantly.

First one: a low trajectory and right onto the plate.

Second one: Mr. Obama maneuvered a bit but managed to catch it. Same with a third.

To applause, he took a slight bow. Then Obama held up his hand when pancake chefGregg White started to fire another cake at him.

“That’s it, enough,” the Illinois senator said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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