Capital Briefs October 27

CONGRESS BACK NOVEMBER 17?  That’s what lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers are increasingly betting on, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi expected to make a stimulus package the top priority of a lame-duck session of Congress. (See Legislative Lowdown.) “That’s the scariest thing I ever heard — a stimulus package and more spending,” Rep. Sam Graves (R.-Mo.) told HUMAN EVENTS last week. Graves, who is locked in a tough re-election battle (see Races of the Week) added that, if Congress does have a lame-duck session, Republicans should push for “letting businesses expense all of their new equipment for a year and killing the capital gains tax altogether. We can’t do any more spending bills, so let’s at least make a stand for stuff that works.”  

HUMAN EVENTS RIGHT ON POWELL: In endorsing Barack Obama for president over his longtime friend and fellow Republican John McCain, Colin Powell confirmed what HUMAN EVENTS wrote about him when the retired general announced he would not seek the Republican nomination for President himself in 1995. “During his withdrawal press conference,” we said (Nov. 17, 1995), “[Powell] also said he would ‘continue to speak out’ for his more liberal views so ‘the party can broaden its appeal, to appeal to the greatest number of Americans possible.” HUMAN EVENTS noted that Powell “wants to increase toleration within the GOP, but his biographer, David Roth, says Powell finds the religious right ‘repulsive.’ And just this February [1995] Powell said he couldn’t ‘imagine’ appearing before the Conservative Political Action Conference, a broad-based conservative gathering that has had among its featured speakers George [H.W.] Bush, Jack Kemp, and Ronald Reagan.” Now, in 2008, by going over to support a leftist Democrat who, among other differences, does not even agree with him on U.S. action in Iraq, Powell has proved that HUMAN EVENTS had his number long ago.  

OBAMA UP IN BIG TEN: According to a just-completed survey by the University of Wisconsin (Madison) with the cooperation of universities in all of the key states, Barack Obama leads John McCain in eight of the ten Midwest states considered battleground sites: Illinois (61 percent to 32 percent), Indiana (51 percent to 41 percent), Iowa (52 percent to 39 percent), Ohio (53 percent to 41 percent), Michigan (58 percent to 36 percent), Minnesota (57 percent to 38 percent), Pennsylvania (52 percent to 41 percent), and Wisconsin (53 percent to 40 percent). According to political scientist Charles Franklin, co-developer of, “In September, we saw virtually the entire Big Ten as a battleground. Now Obama is clearly winning the Big Ten battleground. The dominance of the economy as a top issue for voters is an overwhelming story.”  

AFTER OBAMA? Although the election is still days away, some Illinois Democrats are already talking about who among them will succeed Barack Obama if he wins the presidency. At this point, the most-discussed name for appointment to Obama’s Senate seat is that of State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, scion of a wealthy Greek-American family and himself a former bank executive. Known as the “Greek Obama,” the 32-year-old Giannoulias has held his current (and only) office for two years and was a vigorous fund-raiser for Obama in his first Senate race in ’04.  

: In its endorsement of Barack Obama for president October 17, the Washington Post nonetheless expressed “reservations and concerns” about the Democratic nominee. The endorsement cited “Mr. Obama’s relatively brief experience in national politics” and noted that the Democratic hopeful’s “greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline.” If withdrawal of troops that Obama has proposed is not feasible, observed the Post, “we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.” The Post went on to voice worry about “the alarming anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign” and added that “any presidential vote is a gamble and Mr. Obama’s resume is undoubtedly thin.” The same editorial castigated John McCain for running “a disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be President.”