Coming Unhinged?

Posted: Dec 18, 2007 10:50 AM
Coming Unhinged?

You'd gather from Republicans on Capitol Hill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is overdue for a visit to the congressional physician's office.

With "plummeting" approval ratings and virtually "no legislative accomplishments" during these final days of the first session of the 110th Congress, the National Republican Congressional Committee is suggesting that it has reached the point where the San Francisco speaker is "melting down."

Mostly, say Republicans, U.S. military successes from the "surge" in Iraq have agitated Mrs. Pelosi to the point that she is now "despondent."

Showing Hillary

So much for party unity.

Anybody paying attention to the 2008 Democratic and Republican presidential-primary seasons has witnessed a sobering reality about politics: When it comes to winning a party's nomination, Democrats have no trouble digging up mud to sling at fellow Democrats, and the same goes for Republicans.

All of which leaves one wondering if the two major political parties and their representatives are really that different to begin with. The worst offender of all, this primary season at least, has been New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose attacks on her one-time Democratic "colleague," Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, have been relentless.

His White House prospects and reputation now on the line, the shell-shocked Mr. Obama has had no choice but to respond in kind, all of which will continue by both camps until such time as a nominee is chosen and the bashing of Republicans can resume.

That day, however, is several weeks if not more away, so in the meantime "Arlingtonians for Obama," "Alexandrians for Obama," "Virginia for Obama," "Generation Obama Virginia," "D.C. for Obama" and "Generation Obama Washington, D.C.," are together inviting Democrats to bash you-know-who at their Iowa Caucus Night on Jan. 3.

The venue, intriguingly enough, will be Bailey's Pub & Grille in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington — practically next door to Mrs. Clinton's campaign headquarters.

"[W]e can show the world — and Hillary's Ballston headquarters — that Arlington, and purple Virginia, and all of America, from red to blue, is Obama country," say organizers.

White House lawyer

Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender has enjoyed a 90 percent success rate with his annual lists of legal predictions. Last year, he hit 100 percent on the money.

Without further ado, eight of his predictions for 2008:

1. Home-run king Barry Bonds will not go to prison.

2. Major League Baseball's report on steroids, authored by former Sen. George Mitchell, could result in libel and slander suits.

3. More successful lawsuits against big companies, like Starbucks, for overtime pay.

4. MRSA-infected athletes will successfully sue schools and teams after being infected with the drug-resistant staph infection via shared equipment and towels.

5. More employment-discrimination suits will be filed by obese people shunned because of personal appearance.

6. More age-discrimination suits will be filed by 65-year-old lawyers. (Two such lawsuits were filed in 2007 against a major D.C. firm.)

7. E-mail medical prescriptions will reduce malpractice lawsuits. (Scribbled, illegible prescriptions have produced numerous suits, and a federal bill by Sen. John Kerry would encourage e-mail prescriptions and penalize doctors who don't use the technology by 2011.)

8. The next president of the United States will be a lawyer and a Democrat. (That's a safe bet, Jack, given the leading Democrats are all lawyers: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards. Two of the leading Republicans, for what it's worth, are also lawyers: Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

Luntz meter

Frank Luntz's instant-response "dial sessions" and his hourlong Sunday morning political talk show were a television fixture in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, capturing the Washington pollster a coveted Emmy Award in 2001.

Then, as often transpires in cable TV, Mr. Luntz "disappeared" (in his words) from MSNBC. But now we see he's made a "bigger and better" return on the Fox News Channel, one inaugural Luntz appearance identifying the appeal of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when he stood at just 1 percent in other national polls.

During last Wednesday's Republican debate in Iowa, Mr. Luntz had 28 undecided voters run his "meters" live for 90 minutes, and the result: Fox News attracted a larger audience than CNN and MSNBC combined.