It ended quietly on a Friday afternoon as embarrassing moments for the government often do so as to minimize press attention. The announcement that the federal investigation of former cycling great Lance Armstrong over allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs had collapsed was largely ignored. It came in the form of a statement from the office of the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. No reason was cited for the decision. Neither the U.S. Attorney nor other government figures, such as investigator Jeff Novitzky, who were not shy about publicizing their pursuit of Armstrong in recent years, bothered to comment. Thus, the employees of several federal agencies who were involved in pursuing the vendetta against the seven-time Tour de France champion will perhaps now return to more useful work that will be a better way to spend the taxpayers’ money. Armstrong will continue his charity work on behalf of cancer research without the distraction of being sent to jail hanging over his head.
But this should not pass without comment.
Newt Gingrich’s week started out badly for him with a crushing loss in the Nevada caucuses that was followed by a press conference in which the former speaker demonstrated anew that his candidacy is driven as much by personal hatred of frontrunner Mitt Romney as it is by his own ambition. But things got worse for him today with the release of fresh polling data in two of the states to hold caucuses on Tuesday. Public Policy Polling’s latest findings on the caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota show him trailing not only Romney but also Rick Santorum.
In Colorado, Romney is poised for another big win, with PPP showing him leading with 40 percent of the vote. But rather than Gingrich, it is Rick Santorum who is in second place there with 26 percent. Gingrich is in third with 18 percent while Ron Paul is in last with 12 percent. Even more alarming for the speaker is that Santorum is in the lead in Minnesota edging Romney 29 to 27 percent with Gingrich in third trailing behind with 22 percent. What this means is though Gingrich’s strategy may be to hold on until the Super Tuesday primaries, by then it may be clear it is Santorum who is the only viable “non-Romney” left in the race.
Last night’s late-evening caucus for Jewish voters who couldn’t participate in the morning caucus due to Shabbat conflicts cranked up the typical anti-Jewish paranoia of the Ron Paul community to a new level. Not only were the conspiracy theorists out in full force on the Ron Paul fan-sites (but I repeat myself), they also showed up en masse at the special caucus, which was hosted at a school run by Gingrich-backer Sheldon Adelson:
Next came about 25 passionate speakers for Paul. In short order, the scene in the auditorium began to feel like a revival meeting for anti-government paranoiacs.
The first one accused the government of “genocide.” Another complained that Paul was the victim of media bias, as evidenced by the fact that in the GOP debates, “When they go on Ron Paul the lighting’s dimmer.” Another accused the government of “using our own men as guinea pigs.”
As Gingrich, across town, was vowing bitterly to continue his campaign, a Paul supporter was testifying: “Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney run the two-legged race together at Bohemian Grove! There’s not a bit of difference between those two puppets! I got one word to describe my support for Ron Paul, and that is: End the Fed!”
The wise heads at the New York Times and other bastions of liberalism are increasingly frightened by the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. But, like the Obama administration, what really scares them is the prospect Israel might strike on its own to avert the peril of a nuclear weapon in the hands of the ayatollahs. In an editorial published yesterday, the Times reverted to treating Israel’s warnings to the West about the need to act as morally equivalent to Iran’s genocidal threats against the life of the Jewish state. The Times put down put Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s assertion that Israel was a “cancer” they would eradicate as mere “saber rattling” to be pigeonholed alongside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s prescient comment that anyone who “says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” to deal with Iran.
The Times believes Israel’s government must be forced to wait patiently until the Obama administration’s cautious program of sanctions directed at Iran can work. But the problem with that advice is the three years that Obama has invested in rallying international support for sanctions have not worked for two reasons.
There were rumors flying around the blogosphere on Saturday night as the Nevada caucus returns were being tabulated that Newt Gingrich would use his press conference to adopt a new, more positive strategy going forward. But after watching Gingrich’s bizarre 11 pm presser, it would appear that the new positive Newt bears a strange resemblance to the old nasty Newt. Gingrich spent most of his session with the press venting his bitterness at Mitt Romney. While vowing to continue his presidential campaign, the main focus of his remarks was not his differences with President Obama but the anger he feels toward the GOP frontrunner.
As he did after losing in Florida, Gingrich again failed to congratulate Romney for winning in Nevada. But, if anything, his rage about being beaten in the pre-Florida primary debates has only grown. Calling Romney a liar, Gingrich piled on the abuse, trying to link him to leftist financier George Soros. Listening to Gingrich, it was clear his campaign was being driven as much by his animus for Romney as it was by his own burning ambition for the presidency. But the question for Gingrich’s main financial backers today has to be whether they are interested in continuing to subsidize an effort that seems more focused on damaging the likely Republican standard bearer than on beating the incumbent.