Politics

Gen. Clark’s Attack

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, whose stock as Sen. Barack Obama’s possible vice presidential running mate had been rising, may have ruined his chances with his belittling attack on Sen. John McCain’s war record.

Clark, along with other Obama surrogates, followed the campaign’s line of downgrading McCain’s performance as a Vietnam War POW. But Clark was particularly insulting. (“I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”) He also got more attention by appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” while other surrogates addressed campaign gatherings.

A footnote: Clark had been considered the leading former military officer to compensate for Obama’s lack of national security experience because his performance steadily improved during an unsuccessful campaign for the 2004 presidential nomination. Two retired Marine generals also mentioned for vice president, Anthony Zinni and James Jones, lack any political experience.

Romney Rising

Mitt Romney‘s surge toward the Republican vice presidential nomination was boosted at last month’s Texas state party convention in Houston.

Romney, the predominant conservative choice to be Sen. John McCain’s running mate, was pleasantly surprised to encounter a paid audience of about 3,500 for a Republican fundraising dinner. He received a standing ovation after delivering a conservative stemwinder.

A footnote: Vice presidential prospects for Bobby Jindal, the 37-year-old first-year governor of Louisiana, suffered when he vetoed a pay raise for state legislators after promising them he would sign it. However, conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has boosted Jindal for the ticket, said the veto made him stronger.

GAS PRICE POLITICS

When Chairman David Obey announced before the Fourth of July break that he was shutting down his House Appropriations Committee’s consideration of money bills, House Republican leaders felt they had the Democratic majority on the run over soaring gas prices.

The committee was considering the Labor-HHS appropriation when ranking Republican Jerry Lewis offered the Interior money bill as an amendment to force a vote on oil drilling. “As far as I’m concerned,” Obey said as he adjourned the committee, charging Republican obstructionism, “they’ve had their shot.”

Democrats do not want to vote on increased oil drilling, which gets a high rating from voters as a means of eventually reducing prices at the gas pump.

OBAMA’S GOP LOBBYIST

The Republican lobbyist who was solicited for contributions by Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign a month ago has received a second request for money from the Democratic presidential candidate, who has banned lobbyist money from supporting his candidacy. The second try was made after no response to the first attempt. As did the first solicitation, the second letter signed by Obama asked the veteran Republican donor and fundraiser for a contribution “to change the way business is done in Washington.”

The lobbyist’s only contributions to Democrats have been to two powerful committee chairmen — John Dingell (Energy and Commerce) and Charlie Rangel (Ways and Means) — in order to open their doors to his clients. The lobbyist figures that the Obama campaign lifted his name from Dingell and/or Rangel money lists.

“COBURN OMNIBUS”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may trigger a parliamentary brawl in the Senate late in July if he goes through with his threat to bundle some 100 spending bills being blocked by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn into one “Coburn omnibus.”

Coburn has held up the bills to stop the practice of passing legislation without amendments or debates. If Reid uses the same tactics on the combined bill, Coburn is threatening to tie up the Senate with parliamentary tactics. “I’d welcome the opportunity to spend weeks debating wasteful Washington spending and Congress’ misplaced priorities,” said Coburn.

How much Coburn can do depends on whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican colleagues support him to prevent Reid from getting 60 votes needed to close debate on the “Coburn omnibus.”

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