Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Campbell Brown tweaks President Obama on opting out of his own ethics rules within the week: “You see, what happened is, there is this former lobbyist for a big defense contractor called Raytheon. His name is William Lynn. President Obama wants him to be deputy defense secretary. So, the Obama administration wants a waiver to its own rule. That basically means they are saying, we will mostly put tough new restrictions on lobbyists, except when we won’t. Really? Is this how it is going to be? Please, please don’t make us all any more cynical than we already are, Mr. President.”

The good government groups are peeved too.

And Huffington Post piles on: “But there is a second layer to the Lynn issue that also is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Democrats, good government groups and Republicans eager to cry hypocrisy. Raytheon is no mom-and-pop defense contractor shop. It is the type of industry behemoth that protesters of the Iraq invasion bemoaned for profiting off of the war and encouraging militarization.” Did all these people buy into the New Politics claptrap or is this crocodile-tear time?

Former RNC Chair Jim Nicholson urges the GOP to rethink its position on immigration, noting that Hispanic voters are “center-right, more conservative, more family- and work-oriented people.” Now that might be the basis for a new majority.

President Obama’s poll numbers come down to earth — dropping twenty points in a week. But make no mistake, he’s the most popular politician in America. By far.

David Paterson comes out even worse than Caroline in the senate selection drama: “His style of governance, a dizzy mix of ingratiation and trickeration, has turned what could have been a moment of triumph—a powerful new ally in the Senate, a relationship with President Obama—into a slapstick fiasco, a fitting sequel to the way Paterson got the job in the first place.”

Maureen Dowd is fussing that Paterson didn’t leap at the chance to name Caroline: “Then the Democrats would have had another Kennedy in the Senate representing New York — Bobby’s niece and a smart, policy-oriented, civic-minded woman to whom the president feels deeply indebted in an era when every state has its hand out. Instead they have Gillibrand, who voted against the Wall Street — as in New York — bailout bill. And who introduced a bill to balance the federal budget annually, which suggests she would oppose the $825 billion in deficit spending that President Obama proposes to rescue the country, not least New York.” Hmm, I guess work as a special counsel to HUD and multiple terms in the House don’t make Gillibrand the smart, policy-oriented, civic-minded woman in the mix. (Dowd seems convinced Gillibrand is a Sarah Palin redux — another painful reminder there are successful women who don’t agree with Dowd’s politics or share her disdain for the Second Amendment.) 

A rather devastating retort from Rush Limbaugh to the President’s dig. Limbaugh is right on the politics (the Obama team desperately needs to avoid a debate on the merits) and the substance (“anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy”).

This eye-opening Wall Street Journal story tells us: “Two Illinois congressmen urged the Treasury in October to avoid taking any regulatory action against a struggling bank in their state, illustrating the aggressive efforts some politicians are taking to help hometown lenders during the bank crisis.” Get used to the bailout era — when politics drives economic decisions and the most politically connected, rather than the most able, prosper. And are we going to see the power and influence of lobbyists diminish in the Obama administration? I doubt it.

Heather MacDonald: “Obama says he will ‘restore science to its rightful place.’ All very nice and anti-oogedy-boogedy.  I’ll believe Obama’s self-congratulatory rhetoric, however, when he stands up to the radical green lobby and considers the case for nuclear energy, a power source conspicuously absent from his inaugural list of PC alternative fuels.”

Politico tells us: “Within the high school gossip circle that is New York’s congressional delegation, Kirsten Gillibrand’s nickname is ‘Tracy Flick’ — a not-so-flattering reference to the over-eager, blonde, bubbly and viciously competitive Reese Witherspoon character from ‘Election.’ Gillibrand, the newly appointed junior senator from New York, has never been shy about her political ambitions — or her willingness to vault over older, more experienced politicians.”Oh, puleez. Imagine the media and other pols chiding a new male senator for being politically ambitious.

The New York Times editors are panicky over the possibility that the pre-clearance provision (Section 5) of the Voting Rights Act might be struck down. They argue: “In last fall’s election, despite his strong national margin of victory — and hefty campaign chest — Mr. Obama got only about one in five white votes in the Southern states wholly or partly covered by Section 5. And there is every reason to believe that minority voters will continue to face obstacles at the polls.” What? Was there some evidence that minority voters who wanted to couldn’t vote for President Obama? Or that they have trouble voting in any other jurisdiction coverd by Section 5? You’ll find none in the Times column. This should be one heck of an oral argument if this is the best the Voting Rights Act defenders can come up with.

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