Obama unbowed by scandal, unfair attacks on Christie, and Hick’s retreat from the center
Dateline Washington, D.C.: For those curious about whether President Barack Obama’s hard-edged ideological approach to governing would be chastened in the wake of last month’s mushrooming IRS, AP and Benghazi scandals, be curious no more.
Obama’s appointment of Susan Rice as the head of the American national security apparatus is about as sure a signal as there could be that the commander in chief has no intention of letting his presidency, engulfed in ever-widening scandal be rerouted off the take-no-prisoners approach that defined his first term.
Rice, of course, has become the focal point of the administration’s dubious handling of the Benghazi tragedy on Sept. 11. Rice was passed over by Obama for secretary of state because the White House knew she couldn’t win Senate confirmation in the wake of her well-documented Benghazi bungling. But the head of the National Security Administration doesn’t require confirmation, so Obama decided to place Rice there.
Ninety days ago, such a brazen move wouldn’t have been a surprise. But many commentators have been watching eagerly to see whether IRS/AP/Benghazi Gate would soften the president’s approach on high-profile decisions such as these.
With the appointment of Rice as the head of the NSA, we have our answer: Barack Obama 2.0 is the same as version 1.
Dateline New Jersey: For reasons I still can’t fully process, some conservative commentators just can’t get enough of bad-mouthing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He drew big fire from some Republicans this week when he decided to fill the vacancy of deceased U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg with a special election this fall, rather than deferring the election until next year, allowing the GOP to have an extra Senate seat for another year. It is widely assumed Democrats will win the election in the overwhelmingly Democratic state. And some Republicans wanted the seat as long as they could have it. Fair enough.
What gets me is just how visceral some conservatives have become toward Christie, including their attacks on his decision this week. Obviously, some can’t let go of the fact that Christie had the temerity to stand with, and say nice things about, Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Christie gets no slack for governing as an arch-conservative in a liberal state. He gets no refuge for pounding the unions and pushing fiscal reforms that have become the model for sensible, conservative fiscal governance.
As evidenced by this column, smacking Obama comes pretty easily to me. But castigating a great conservative leader for the high crime of working with the president during a natural disaster is more than unfair – it is also plain stupid.
Dateline Denver: As expected, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that would increase renewable energy mandates on rural electrical providers against the strenuous objection of everyone except environmentalists. Everyone from business leaders to labor-union leaders to electricity providers loudly opposed the bill, saying it will hit rural Colorado hard. But no dice.
The governor signed the bill anyway, as his retreat from Colorado’s political center accelerates.
Dateline Colorado Springs: As readers of this paper know, the president of the Colorado Senate, John Morse, looks to be headed toward a recall vote. Recall supporters likely turned in more than enough signatures to force a vote this fall.
Many in the national media have focused on the recall as a bellwether on gun control. And, of course, it is most certainly that. But the recall could also be something of a harbinger in Colorado. While everyone considers all of Colorado Springs a conservative bastion, Morse’s district, thanks to some Democratic gerrymandering, is actually a pretty good seat for Democrats.
Morse, with all of the fringe benefits of being Senate president (e.g. access to big campaign dollars) should be a prohibitive favorite. But many analysts, reporters and activists I talk to think the recall has a shot at success. Whatever the outcome, the contest will be an elucidating window into the public’s mind about the increasingly liberal direction of the state, in addition to a proxy war over gun control.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.