Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher can barely conceal his disdain for Terry McAuliffe, who is running for Governor of Virginia: “What? He has zero experience in state politics? This matters to you? . . McAuliffe seems like an interloper, a guy with impressive political oomph but not necessarily someone with the local connections and serious enough mien to beat Republican Bob McDonnell come November. . .  Is he too brash, somehow not Virginian enough for a state where candidates almost universally pay homage to the amorphous notion of ‘Virginia values’?” Yikes.

Bill Sammon on the stimulus bill: “People look at this thing and see, you know, some mouses being protected in Pelosi’s district, some rail lines being built in Harry Reid ’s state. They look at the welfare reform that Bill Clinton had enacted as — basically had been undone. I think as we get deeper into the details of this bill, it’s going to get uglier and uglier. So yes, Obama won, but he won ugly. He wanted bipartisan support. He got virtually none. He wanted 80 votes in the Senate. He got 60. And he had to send a plane to get that 60th vote and sort of limp across the finish line.”

He adds that Tim Geithner “bombed” on his bank bailout plan, a sentiment with which Mara Liasson agrees: “It was an inauspicious start, and one of the problems was that the White House did inexplicably raise expectations for it.”

The New York Times agrees that Geithner was “panned,” explaining, “Mr. Geithner was not especially articulate, his critics said, and he provided only an outline of an outline, not the detailed blueprint people anticipated and wanted. To a degree, one of Mr. Geithner’s biggest problems was not of his own making. His boss, President Obama, had fanned expectations for his debut as Mr. Fix-It, leaving the impression that it would be boffo. It wasn’t.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham was on fire on This Week: “I know bipartisanship when I see it. I’ve participated in it. I’ve gone back home and gotten primary opponents because I wanted to be bipartisan. There’s nothing about this process that’s been bipartisan. This is not ‘change we can believe in.’ You rammed it through the House. You started out with the idea of, ‘we won, we write the bill.’ The mark-up, Chuck [Schumer], in the Senate took an hour and 40 minutes. What the AMT got to do with creating jobs?”

Cokie Roberts, unlike Politico, notes the generic polls showing the Republicans pulling even with the Democrats. Oh, so their adherence to principle is actually helping them politically? Wow, you’d think that might be front page news somewhere.

A pyromaniac in a field of strawmen,” George Will calls one of his colleagues, who insists it was the Obama stimulus or nothing.

And what of Meet The Press? Duller than dishwater — and David Gregory still can’t manage to ask a decent follow up. The newest verbal tic is “All right.” Did he hammer David Axelrod on the Census? (“You won’t politicize the Census?” is the sort of softball question NBC now comes up with.) Puleez — it’s Sunday and it’s Meet the Very Accommodating Press.

Let me get this straight: Obama is signing the stimulus bill with statutory restrictions on executive pay for banks that have accepted bailout money, but he doesn’t consider them binding, according to Axelrod. Do we get a signing statement or any legal opinion as to why this part of the law isn’t binding? I’m sure the top law professors will get right on it.

Mickey Kaus has been following the stimulus bill’s subsidy to entice states to fill up the welfare rolls. He  observes: “A reemerging ‘welfare’ issue is a potential killer, in other words, for Obama’s big remaining plans, especially health care. If Dems seem determined to reinstate dependency–or at the least blind to the dangers of dependency–voters aren’t going to trust them to spend trillions on universal health insurance  and fortified pensions. It’s hard to believe Obama doesn’t realize this.” Well it was hard to believe Obama let Pelosi draft the stimulus bill, but he did it. Maybe he likes the far left agenda — or simply doesn’t have the nerve to block it.

Here’s a neat bit of doubletalk: “‘There will be signs of activity very quickly’ David Axelrod, the White House senior adviser, said on ‘Fox News Sunday. ‘But it’s going to take time for that to show up in the statistics. The president has said it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.'” Got that?

Michael Goodwin joins the ranks of the disappointed: “Obama deserves most of the blame. . . But Obama isn’t keeping his word [to change Washington]. He is shutting out views that don’t match his own, and is back on the campaign trail, as though giving a speech to adoring crowds liberates him from the burdens of the White House. After more than two years of campaigning to get there, one would think he would be ready to govern. The evidence that he is instead choosing a partisan path and a permanent campaign lies most recently in Sen. Judd Gregg’s abrupt withdrawal to be commerce secretary.”

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