Today's Wide Angle Lens

Headlines and Commentary for 11.26.05

News Telegraph/UK – Hillary engages Clinton double act for White House

Hillary Clinton has enlisted her husband to attack the White House over Iraq in an attempt to shore up her sliding support among Democrat activists. The New York senator, who is expected to run for the White House in 2008, has been alarmed by a drop in her opinion polls ratings as she pays the political price for backing President George W Bush’s decision to topple Saddam Hussein.

Her hawkish stance was originally a useful way to shed her liberal reputation, but has become an increasing political liability as America’s mood has swung against the war. Anxious that criticising the way the occupation has been handled could expose to the accusations of “flip-flopping” – a charge that cost John Kerry when he ran against President Bush last year – she is leaving the task to her husband. As political positioning for the 2008 polls begins, it will be him, not her, who placates the Democratic Left with attacks on Mr Bush’s Iraq policy.

The new double act is being seen as a variation of President Clinton’s old “triangulation” strategy, where he positioned himself between Democrats and Republicans, that helped win his second term in the White House in 1996. Political observers believe that the Clintons are now engaged in ‘triangulation” over Iraq.

I’m not sure why this is news. Anyone who has a pulse knows that Hillary has been shaping herself for 2008. Heck, she’s been doing this ever since she agreed to marry Bill Clinton. She believes it’s her turn now. Quid pro quo – Bill’s job is to play the part of the lap dog. There’s only one problem – a majority of women won’t elect a woman to the presidency. Furthermore, many Americans just don’t want Clinton Part II, yet.

Los Angeles Times – U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout from Iraq

Even as debate over the Iraq war continues to rage, signs are emerging of a convergence of opinion on how the Bush administration might begin to exit the conflict. In a departure from previous statements, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi soldiers had advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops in the country probably would not be needed much longer.

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces. The administration’s pivot on the issue comes as the White House is seeking to relieve enormous pressure by war opponents. The camp includes liberals, moderates and old-line conservatives who are uneasy with the costly and uncertain nation-building effort. It also follows agreement this week among Iraqi politicians that the U.S. troop presence ought to decrease.

I’d like to believe that Iraqi troops are getting better prepared to protect their country. I’d like to believe that Iraqi politicians are signaling that the presence of U.S. military ought to decrease.

I’d like to believe…but I don’t.

One thing we know now that we didn’t know then – most of the Republicans in Washington are wimpy. They simply can’t take the heat, or the threat of heat from the Left. At any sign of pressure, they cave. Bush, by proxy, does his own cave dance. It’s troubling, and I fear it will have permanent ramifications in the mid-terms and in 2008. So, when I hear that there might be a troop withdrawal in Iraq soon, I see visions of backroom compromises and giveaways aimed at political survival.

US News & World Report – Newt: Back in the Game

With America’s economic dominance threatened, Newt Gingrich, the brainy former speaker of the House of Representatives, argues, “science and technology are at the heart of our survival.” President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, Gingrich continues, is “nutty.” Instead, he says, kids should be paid cold, hard cash for excelling in math and science; prescription drugs, meanwhile, should be available on websites like Travelocity.com, where shoppers can compare prices before they buy.

The list goes on, but the bottom line, in Gingrich’s view, is that America is in dire need of bold fixes. This is the essence of Gingrich’s new stump speech, and he’s missing few opportunities to deliver it. A few months back, Gingrich made headlines by joining Hillary Rodham Clinton to promote electronic health records. Since the January publication of his book Winning the Future: a 21st Century Contract with America, Gingrich has appeared three times in Iowa and twice in New Hampshire, sparking speculation that he might run for president in 2008. He won’t say he’s interested, but he won’t say he’s not, either. This much is certain: Seven years after being deposed as speaker, Newt is back.

Newt is right. American government needs a fix. But, I don’t think Newt is the man to deliver on the fixes, and that’s too bad. He can’t win. Why? Because the media would crucify him. His paper trail is too long. His “Contract with America”, while revolutionary, is misunderstood today and would be used as a weapon against him.

Newt can be a great chief of staff, cabinet member, or maybe even a Vice President. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think the American Media would elect him to the presidency.

AP – Holiday Sales Off to a Lukewarm Start

The official holiday shopping season appears to have gotten off to a lukewarm start, according to results announced Saturday by a national research group that monitors retail sales. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was one bright spot in the crowd, reporting its sales exceeded expectations.

According to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at more than 45,000 retail outlets, the overall sales on Friday were relatively unchanged compared to a year ago, despite heavier discounting and expanded hours that drew a surge of shoppers to stores in the early morning hours.

Heh. I knew this story would come out today. I predicted it.

AP – Believers Flock to ‘Crying’ Virgin Mary

Carrying rosary beads and cameras, the faithful have been coming in a steady stream to a church on the outskirts of Sacramento for a glimpse of what some are calling a miracle: A statue of the Virgin Mary they say has begun crying a substance that looks like blood.

It was first noticed more than a week ago, when a priest at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church spotted a stain on the statue’s face and wiped it away. Before Mass on Nov. 20, people again noticed a reddish substance near the eyes of the white concrete statue outside the small church, said Ky Truong, 56, a parishioner.

Since then, Truong said he has been at the church day and night, so emotional he can’t even work. He believes the tears are a sign.

“There’s a big event in the future — earthquake, flood, a disease,” Truong said. “We’re very sad.”

I can’t wait until someone in the media uncovers the company who manufactures these ‘crying Mary’ statues.

AP – Bono Urges Canada to Increase Foreign Aid

Irish rocker Bono says Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s inability to further increase foreign aid mystifies him, especially when he’s facing an election in a country that clearly favors more foreign aid. “I’m mystified, actually, by the man,” the U2 lead singer said at a news conference Friday. “I like him very much, personally. “I just think that it’s a huge opportunity that he’s missing out on. This is important to the Canadian people. I think the prime minister will find out if he walks away from the opportunity to (boost foreign aid) he will hear about it in the election. I am absolutely sure of that.”

Giving away all that extra money means less time drinking brew! Bono clearly doesn’t understand the influence Molson has on the average Canadian.

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