Capital Briefs December 7, 2009

MORE DEMO SHOES TO DROP IN HOUSE? That was a big political question on Capitol Hill last week, after Rep. John Tanner (D.-Tenn.) announced he would not seek re-election in 2010. Coming days after a similar “no go” from fellow Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore (Kan.), the decision of Tanner, a longtime leader of conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats in the House, raised speculation that a number of nervous House Democrats would not run again next year. Tanner had always coasted to re-election in Tennessee’s 8th District, but next year would have faced a stiff Republican challenge from gospel singer Stephen Fincher, who had so far raised more than $308.000 to the incumbent’s $62,000. Democratic members rumored to be seriously mulling retirement include: Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Ike Skelton (Mo.), John Spratt (S.C.), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Marion Berry (Ark.) and Paul Kanjorski (Pa.).

TRUST IN GOP: Three years after voters turned out Republicans from control of Congress for what many considered breaking their trust over spending issues and conducting “business as usual,” the tide appears to be turning. A just-completed Rasmussen Poll shows that by 48% to 36%, voters nationwide have more confidence in Republicans than in Democrats to handle the economy. The same poll showed that 50% of voters felt the country’s economic downturn was due to problems that began under George W. Bush, and 42% blamed President Obama’s policies for the slump. On the issue of healthcare, however, Rasmussen found that voters trusted the Republicans only slightly more (44% to 42%) than Democrats.

HUCKABEE LEANING AGAINST 2012 RUN? Even before the horror of the shooting of four Washington State policemen by a man who once received clemency in Arkansas from then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the ’08 Republican presidential hopeful was hinting at what many friends from his home state have said for several months: that he just may take a pass on the 2012 race. Huckabee told reporters last week that he will make a decision on another presidential run after the 2010 mid-term elections and that his decision would be based on the chances of the Republican Party’s uniting behind him and the standing of his popular weekly Fox television program. All things considered, Huckabee said, it is “less likely than more likely” at this time he will run in 2012. (Huckabee discusses the Arkansas clemency on page 7.)

CIZIK WITH SOROS: With the summit on climate change about to convene in Copenhagen, a familiar face on this issue has resurfaced. As vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals for more than ten years until he was forced out in ‘08, Richard Cizik repeatedly upset conservatives with his pronouncements on global warming, campaign finance, and immigration “reform” as issues of paramount importance to the evangelical community. “The Earthy Evangelist” is what the New York Times dubbed Cizik in ’05 for his advocacy on the global-warming issue. So where is Cizik now? He is a fellow with the Open Society, launched and funded by leftist tycoon George Soros, and “his work will focus on climate change, immigration and criminal justice,” according to the Society’s website.

PAID TO SPEND STIMULUS MONEY: Although more than half of the $787 billion in stimulus money voted by Congress has yet to be spent and the impact on the economy of the distributed dollars unclear, one group is obviously benefiting from the Obama stimulus package: the government contractors in the Washington, D.C., area that are helping to hand it out. According to the Washington Post last week, “The contractors’ work hardly differs from the basic operations of the federal departments hiring them.” As examples of this, the Post said that “The Energy Department is paying Technology and Management Services, a Gaithersburg firm, $6.9 million to review applications for renewable energy loan guarantees. The Department of Homeland Security awarded Deloitte Consulting’s Arlington, [Va.], branch $8.6 million to provide ‘program management and support’ for the stimulus plan’s $1 billion airport security initiative, and gave McKing Consulting, a Fairfax firm, a $1.5 million contract to review applications for fire department construction funding.” While this represents a relatively small percentage of the package, the Post said that, “the contracts raise questions about whether enough funding is getting to areas suffering the most.”

: Although he has not held elective office since he retired as mayor of Carmel, Calif., in 1988, Clint Eastwood still has some definite opinions on politics and politicians. In an interview with Gentleman’s Quarterly, the film legend said of Jimmy Carter’s charge that people who disagree with President Obama are racists: “Carter is just kind of a senile old guy, I guess, and it’s something about being an old guilty Southerner that makes you want to be perceived as doing penance for all the years you probably cast aspersions on black people when you were younger.” On Obama’s involvement in the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Gates, Eastwood said he “started out perfectly: ‘I don’t have the facts.’ That was the time to stop,” but Obama then “sides with the black professor rather than the policeman. Everybody’s just ready to jump down everybody else’s throat.”