Obama takes the low road

August 18, 2008 at 6:10 am

The Wall Street Journal takes Obama to task for his nasty slur against Justice Clarence Thomas:

Barack Obama likes to portray himself as a centrist politician who wants to unite the country, but occasionally his postpartisan mask slips. That was the case at Saturday night’s Saddleback Church forum, when Mr. Obama chose to demean Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Pastor Rick Warren asked each Presidential candidate which Justices he would not have nominated. Mr. McCain said, “with all due respect” the four most liberal sitting Justices because of his different judicial philosophy.

[Barack Obama]

Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that “that’s a good one,” and then adding that “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he, I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution.” The Democrat added that he also wouldn’t have appointed Antonin Scalia, and perhaps not John Roberts, though he assured the audience that at least they were smart enough for the job.

So let’s see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General’s office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s second most prominent court. Since his “elevation” to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.

Meanwhile, as he bids to be America’s Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn’t yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a “community organizer” and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas’s judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama’s Presidential résumé by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas’s rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama’s story look like easy street.

Even more troubling is what the Illinois Democrat’s answer betrays about his political habits of mind. Asked a question he didn’t expect at a rare unscripted event, the rookie candidate didn’t merely say he disagreed with Justice Thomas. Instead, he instinctively reverted to the leftwing cliché that the Court’s black conservative isn’t up to the job while his white conservative colleagues are.

So much for civility in politics and bringing people together. And no wonder Mr. Obama’s advisers have refused invitations for more such open forums, preferring to keep him in front of a teleprompter, where he won’t let slip what he really believes.

Warren’s faith forum already controversial

August 13, 2008 at 11:59 am

Mega-church pastor Rick Warren is hosting a candidate forum for Barack Obama and John McCain. He is also the focus if a recent Time Magazine feature piece. Throughout the piece there is much to admire from Warren. For one, his skepticism about government is laudable:

“I have never been considered a part of the religious right, because I don’t believe politics is the most effective way to change the world,” he says now. “Although public service can be a noble profession, and I believe it is our responsibility to vote, I don’t have much faith in government solutions, given the track record. It’s why I am a pastor, not a politician. None of my values have changed from four years ago, but my agenda has definitely expanded.”

Good for him. No pastor should be a tool of either party. But according to this statement, Warren is more conservative than he knows. A deep distrust of government schemes plus a belief that everyday people not politicians are the best agents of change — these are hallmarks of conservatism. But that is an aside in this post.

The real issue is that Warren should not shy away from advocating principles of the faith that will make candidates uncomfortable.

Excerpts from the piece like this have some worried:

A shift away from “sin issues” — like abortion and gay marriage — is reflected in Warren’s approach to his coming sit-downs with the candidates. He says he is more interested in questions that he feels are “uniting,” such as “poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights,” and still more in civics-class topics like the candidates’ understanding of the role of the Constitution. There will be no “Christian religion test,” Warren insists. “I want what’s good for everybody, not just what’s good for me. Who’s the best for the nation right now?”

Warren’s apparent desire to avoid divisive issues while focusing on uniting issues is a disservice to the forum. People of faith, who look to Warren to moderate this forum properly, want to see what divides the candidates as much as they do what unites them. That is how you make a proper assesment of a candidates worth — by knowing where they differ from each other.

Furthermore, as Hunter Baker points out in an open letter to Warren, ignoring the issue of abortion is a missed opportunity to highlight one of the greatest moral issues of our time:

If the year were 1958, instead of 2008, do you think it would be right to host such a forum and ignore segregation, knowing one candidate was ardently in favor of the separation of the races? You and I both know that it would be wrong to gloss over a glaring breach of that kind. We both know many in the church were wrong in just that way. (It is a terrible irony of history that Mr. Obama now stands with those who favor the persistent removal of an entire class of human beings from legal protection through legal fiat. How I wish it were not so.)

UPDATE: Wow…today comes news that the Democratic Party is officially lurching farther left on the abortion issue:

The Democratic Party platform of 2008 finally dropped its old abortion language (”safe, legal and rare”), which had asked that women not have abortions unless they absolutely must. The 2008 platform, just announced, says instead, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

In other words, the Democratic Party is emboldened by Barack Obama’s candidacy and the unabashed liberalism that he stands for. Now the Party platform betrays the Left’s desire to convince Americans not of the necessity of a woman’s right to choose, but rather, of the morality of the act of abortion itself.

Full steam ahead on the Leftward Express…

It would be a shame for Warren to let these developments go unnoticed.

What’s Frist up to?

December 27, 2006 at 9:12 am

The Washington Post has the scoop on former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s activity now that he is out of the Senate. In an email Frist gave his update:

But retirees shouldn’t reminisce, and Frist won’t. “Over the next couple of weeks, Karyn and I and the boys will be on the go; traveling and visiting with family and friends,” he writes. For example, he said, he was heading to South Texas with two of his sons and some friends for a father-son hunt.

“Karyn, the boys and I will then spend the 23rd with Karyn’s Mother and sister Trisha and their extended family (45 McLaughlins at their biannual McLaughlin family Christmas) in Austin. And then back to Nashville for Christmas Day to join the Frist clan,” he writes. “We’re rehabbing the home I grew up in, but it’s not ready so we are living in the backyard in a garage apartment (now beautifully decorated by Karyn!).”

The key is to keep moving. “Another hunt with the family on the 26th to replicate the traditional southern hunt (at night) that we did exactly four years ago on the night that I became majority leader.”

A hint of nostalgia there, but Frist quickly recovers. “I’ll spend early January talking with and listening to folk around the country on the new focus for my leadership committee Volunteer PAC (VOLPAC) and promise to send along information before the end of the month.”

Okay. Maybe all that doesn’t excite you. But at the end of his message, Frist promises real news. “February I’m off on my annual medical mission trip delivering care, doing surgery, and treating AIDS patients in Kenya and Sudan and am so excited that Karyn will join me this year.”

So stay active and keep moving. There’s always a future presidential run to think about.

The five-day congressional work week and families

December 6, 2006 at 1:40 pm

As noted, congressional Democrats are moving to a five day legislative work-week in Congress next year. Some Republicans are criticizing the move:

“Keeping us up here eats away at families,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. “Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that’s what this says.”

Markos Moulitsas predictably fires back at Kingston’s charge:

Actually, it says that our elected officials will have to actually work for their salaries. I had no idea that they were such proponents of a 3-day workweek. I’m sure they’ll be writing legislation to give the rest of us that right, what with them being all “pro-family” and all.

Apparently, it also says that there’s a law against members moving their families to Washington D.C.

Of course there is no law against moving family members to DC. But, aside from the expense of doing that, there are political considerations, namely that political opportunists like Kos will use it as a way to attack you. Remember the vitriolic attacks against Rick Santorum?

Santorum did move his family to DC because he wanted to be close to his young kids. But he received nothing but criticism from the Kos crowd. Witness this post from Daily Kos in which Santorum was criticized for exactly this issue:

If you are not a resident of the state, you aren’t allowed to run for the U.S. Senate…

…Rick Santorum needs to convince the voters of Pennsylvania that he lives among them and not just an out-of-towner who used to live here when he was first elected.

Someone from Kos recommended in an email that we try to find out information about his wife’s case in Virginia. The Kos(sack, sian, mopolitan) suggested that in my claims, the court records would start with something like:

Jane Doe (Karen Santorum), of Leesburg Virginia blah blah blah. I agree. Let’s find out where she claimed as her home.

I am not opposed to a five day work week. Neither am I opposed to a three day work week (hey, more often than not the less time for legislating the better off we are). But I do think Kingston has a point about families.

George Will on Webb

November 30, 2006 at 11:18 am

George Will’s column today is filled with harsh criticism for Democratic Senator Jim Webb:

That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

Wednesday’s Washington Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb “tried to avoid President Bush,'’ refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, “How’s your boy?'’ Webb replied, “I’d like to get them (sic) out of Iraq.'’ When the president again asked, “How’s your boy?'’ Webb replied, “That’s between me and my boy.'’ Webb told the Post:

“I’m not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I’m certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. (But) leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is.'’

Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being — one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another. When — if ever — Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a “leader'’ who carefully calibrates the “symbolic things'’ he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

Webb seems bent on bucking the system. It would be nice to see him take some of that anti-establishment energy and steer it towards some productive uses. He could start by teaming up with Senators like Barack Obama and Tom Coburn to push more legislation like the Coburn/Obama Transparency in Government bill. That would be a much more productive use of his time than just being a pill.

The new political reality

November 13, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Michael Barone sums up the next two years for American politics:

Bush is decoupling himself from the Republican Party. House Republicans, with little chance to affect outcomes, will be mostly ignored, as House Democrats were under Clinton.

Senate Republicans, with the leverage of filibuster threats, will be brought into the loop. But congressional Republicans will be on their own in setting a course for 2008…

…For the next two years, political governance and presidential politics seem likely to proceed on two separate tracks, with little relation between them. House and Senate Democratic leaders may want to avoid confrontation on issues that will put their presidential candidates on the defensive. Bush seems less likely to worry about the effect of his decisions on possible Republican nominees.

That leaves the initiative on setting a post-Bush agenda to the presidential candidates of both parties. They start off closely matched. Pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose final Senate numbers were spot on, shows Hillary Clinton trailing John McCain 48 percent to 43 percent and tied 46 percent to 46 percent with Rudolph Giuliani. Democrats may have thumped Republicans last week, but the political future is very much up for grabs.

Who lost?

November 9, 2006 at 4:54 pm

A conservative Hill friend of mine today in a conversation made a good point. When you look at the fallout from Tuesday’s elections, it becomes apparent that conservatives were least likely to fall victim to the wave, while moderate to liberal Republicans had a tough go at it. He followed up on our conversation with the email that I have pasted below with his permission.

The email breaks it down as he sees it:

Liberal

*       N Johnson
*       J Leach
*       Bradley
*       Bass
*       Weldon PA
*       Kelly
*       Sweeney
*       Michigan- Schwartz in primary
Race Undecided: CT-02 (Simmons),
Race Undecided PA-06 (Gerlach),
Race Undecided TX-23 (Bonilla),
Race Undecided OH-15 (Pryce),

Scandal

*       Sherwood
*       Weldon (Penn)
*       Foley seat Florida 16
*       Delay seat Texas 22 (plus hyphenated candidate’s name as a write
in!)
*       Ney seat Ohio 18 (replacement filed for bankruptcy months
before!)
*     Taylor (earmark investigations)
*     Hayworth (also Abramoff connection)
*     Pombo (abramoff connection, used committee funds for political
mailer)

Open

*       Colarado 7
*       Arizona 8
*       Iowa 1
*       NY 24
*       Wisc 8

Conservative

*       Northup (Dem Dist)
*       Chocola (Unpopular R Gov, was Tim Roemer (d) seat before)
*       Sodrel
*       Hostetler (bloody 8th)
*       Jim Ryun
*       Gil Gutknecht
Race Undecided WY-AL (Cubin) –she and her husband have been sick (he
was dying then she had heart attack), she’s missed a ton of votes
Race Undecided NC-08 (Hayes) (textile shut downs?)

Mixed Record

*       Hart (Dem Dist)- (pro-life but pro-union, pro-527 legislation
etc)
*       Fitzpatrick (this was greenwood’s seat)
Race Undecided NM-01 (Wilson),
Race Undecided WA-08 (Reichert),
Race Undecided: MI-09 (Knollenberg),
Race Undecided OH-02 (Schmidt),

Other
*       Shaw

Webb wins

November 9, 2006 at 7:07 am

The complete Dem sweep appears to be in tact.

Gone

November 8, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Rumsfeld resigns…

Wake up White House!

November 8, 2006 at 8:01 am

Fox News reported late last night that White House officials believe now is the time to move forward with “comprehensive” immigration reform.

One wonders if they were watching the same election I was last night.