Capital Briefs October 13

Palin Dissents: One Republican who clearly disagreed with the McCain campaign’s stunning decision to abandon Michigan last week was its vice presidential candidate. The morning after the announcement of the Michigan exit and the day after her own televised debate with Joe Biden, Sarah Palin told Fox News: “I read that this morning and fired off a quick e-mail and said, ‘Oh, come on, do we have to?’” The Alaska governor said that she and her husband Todd could appeal to workers in the state’s moribund auto industry. “I want to get to Michigan, and I want to try,” she said. Conservative Rep. Tim Walberg, one of the two Michigan GOP House members considered most vulnerable this fall, told HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi that he wants Palin to campaign with him because “she would sell very well in my district and make the case that the Republican Party is the party of common sense.” State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis told Gizzi: “We would love to have her in Michigan anytime. I think she would help motivate our troops and clearly help the rest of our ticket. We are working through official channels to get her back in Michigan.”

Obama High Court Possibilities
: With so much election year comment about future Supreme Court vacancies the next President may have to deal with, speculation has started on possible nominations to the high court. Should Barack Obama have the opportunity to name the justices, Obama-watchers think he would turn to Sonia Sotomayor, the second Puerto Rican to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, or Elena Kagan, the first woman dean of Harvard Law School. Both are considered “judicial activists” and have strong ties to Bill Clinton. Clinton’s nomination of Sotomayor to the Appellate Court in 1997 sparked opposition from Senate conservatives and his attempt to put his onetime Associate White House Counsel Kagan on the D.C. Court of Appeals two years later was thwarted by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.

Probe Fannie and Freddie, Says ACU: At a time when the management of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is under intense fire because of the ongoing financial crisis, the American Conservative Union last week called for a criminal investigation of the two mortgage titans. “The greed of executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and those associated with them helped drive our nation down the path to a troubled economy,” declared ACU Executive Vice President Dennis Whitfield, who has launched a nationwide petition drive to support the proposed appointment of a special prosecutor by the U.S. Justice Department. Whitfield focused his fire on former Clinton Office of Management and Budget chief and Fannie chairman and CEO Franklin Raines, who “took a settlement with federal prosecutors over his role cooking Fannie Mae’s books to increase his and other executives’ bonuses. This scheme helped him pocket nearly $50 million.” The ACU also noted that Raines “was responsible for re-writing federal loan programs to encourage risky loans” during his years with Clinton, “as liberal congressional Democrats helped force Frannie Mae into the business of subprime loans of which Raines and his crew later took advantage.”

A Hagel for Obama: Although Sen. Chuck Hagel (R.-Neb.) has steadfastly refused to say whom he will support for president, another Hagel formally weighed in for Barack Obama. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, the senator’s wife, Lilibet Hagel, said that “we’re in two wars, two of the longest we’ve ever been in. We’ve run up a third of our nation’s debt in just the past eight years. We’re in the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.” Noting that her husband was a strong supporter of John McCain for president in 2000, Mrs. Hagel emphasized: “This isn’t anti-McCain. This is pro-Obama. I’m just convinced he’s the right person.” As to what her husband (who is retiring from the Senate this year) will do, Lilibet Hagel would say only: “You’ll have to ask him.” He, however, isn’t talking.

The Morning After: To no one’s surprise, a CBS News Poll the day after the presidential debate last week found that 40 percent of voters nationwide who called themselves uncommitted said Barack Obama won the debate, 26 percent of the uncommitted say that John McCain won, and 34 percent called the debate a draw. In addition, the poll found, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said they felt Obama would make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 55 percent who felt he would do so in a poll taken before the debate. Fewer (48 percent) thought McCain would do so, compared to 41 percent who thought this before the debate. The good news for McCain among uncommitted voters polled by CBS is that more people felt he was ready to be president after the debate — 83 percent, compared to 77 percent before the debate. But Obama also gained, with 58 percent of the uncommitted thinking he was prepared for the job after the debate, compared to only 42 percent before.