I'll be subbing for Hugh again today (6-9 pm on Salem Radio Network). We'll have the Beltway Boys -- Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes -- Larry Kudlow, Asst. Sec. Def. Peter Rodman on China, TAS columnist John Tabin on the Congressional office search and lots more. Hope you can tune in.
The Spectacle Blog
Though there was plenty nonsense to go around (a few times) in Washington this week, let's review the good news:
-Hayden confirmed. (I share Jed's concerns, but am pleased that partisanship did not trump excellent qualifications and the President's prerogative.)
-The absurd Spanish-American war phone tax is no more, after the Bush administration finally gave up the fight. (Via Taranto)
- The economy surged ahead at 5.3 percent in the first quarter, according to revised numbers. Still the Chicago Tribune whines "lower than expected."
-Gas prices are down in Northern Virginia. And by down, I mean by 2 to 3 percent.
Could be worse...
Okay, this is in some ways a repeat of my earliest reactions to Hastert and company yelling bloody murder about the PERFECTLY LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL SEARCH of Rep. William Jefferson's office, but now that I see that Hastert is claiming the ABC report amounts to FBI payback against him for his temper tantrum on the search, it's worth saying again: Mr. Speaker, please, uh, stop speaking! On legal grounds, you are embarrassing yourself and your whole institution; politically, your yelling has been doubly disastrous (first because it takes the focus off of Jeff -- as Jefferson is commonly known in person, and second because it actually puts the GOP on the defensive again because the yelling itself is so deservedly and hideously unpopular). And now to charge the FBI with a political leak based on this whole shouting match does even more to tie the alleged investigation of you with the investigation of Jefferson in the public mind -- which harms not just you, but your whole caucus, because the public does see you as the titular head of, and as representative of, the entire congressional GOP.
Even the New York Times Arts page is finding it difficult to defend the snotty Dixie Chicks. The classy Reba McEntire is publicly teasing them. The Chicks have responded to the backlash by casting all of their critics as rednecks:
The Nashville establishment is not politically monolithic. The most depressing thing about this whole episode is the way the Dixie Chicks have conflated politics and culture, Bush supporters and "rednecks." The unintended implication is that only sophisticated city folk oppose the war in Iraq, and only "rednecks" support the president....
The Dixie Chicks are still a joy to hear, and they'll have plenty of fans no matter what. The Nashville game is hard work; it brings out the best in some singers and frustrates others. If the Dixie Chicks don't want to play that game, that's certainly their prerogative. But they might at least acknowledge that they've been playing it for years, and reaping its rewards. And they shouldn't be too surprised if some fans jeer - angry, but also disappointed - as they walk off the court.
Jed Babbin is guest-hosting for Hugh Hewitt today, and I'll be joining him about 20 minutes into the first hour to talk about the Jefferson office raid. Station list here. Stations with internet feeds here. (For some reason those two pages don't look right when I load them, but scroll down and the info is all there.)
John Tabin linked below to a sufficiently informative rendition of the Right Honorable George Galloway's latest manifestation of fugacity.
But the AP version is enriched by these two gems. 1) It quotes "Blair's official spokesman, who speaks only on condition of anonymity." 2) Delightfully enough, the AP's stringer is named... Stringer.
The vote for Kavanaugh, incidentally, was 57-36, comparable to the 58-42 vote by which Samuel Alito was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Four Democrats backed Kavanaugh, two of whom, Carper and Landrieu, had opposed Alito. Conrad, who backed Alito, sat this one out; Johnson, who supported Alito, voted against Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, Carper backed Alito having opposed Kavanaugh. Only Byrd and Ben Nelson voted for both.
Meanwhile, Michael Hayden had an easier time of it in winning confirmation to head the CIA by 78-15. Arlen Specter was the only Republican to vote against him; Hillary Clinton joined a strong liberal cohort to oppose him. Schumer, Leahy, Mikulski, Harry Reid did not. Barbara Boxer abstained -- okay, that's cheap; she was merely absent, one of seven senators who did not participate in today's voting.
If you've been watching the news, you'll know that shots were reported in the garage of the Rayburn House Office Building about 10:30 am. The Capitol was locked down briefly, and Rayburn remains so while a room-by-room search continues. There are no reports of injuries except one young lady who was evacuated after suffering an anxiety attack.
The search of the Rayburn building is a non-trivial affair. What the television coverage isn't telling you is that the whole Capitol complex -- the Capitol itself, the House and Senate office buildings -- are all connected by a network of underground tunnels. Searching them, if it is to be done, would take many hours.
Capitol Police are supposed to have a news con in a couple of minutes. Not much news is to be expected.
Finally, finally, Brett Kavanaugh has won Senate confirmation to serve on the mightily influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Now it can be revealed. He's long wanted Congress to do the right thing and not evade its responsibilities. Here's what he wrote in a post-Clinton impeachment and acquittal symposium in The American Spectator's April 1999 issue:
SurveyUSA has new poll numbers out on Sen. George Allen, Jim Webb, and Harris Miller. Of registered voters with a margin of error of 4.6% (pretty high), 47% have a favorable opinion of Allen. That's nothing to write home about, but neither are the numbers for his Democratic challengers, Miller and Webb, Kilo writes. While most Virginians know who they are, the majority also has an unfavorable opinion of them.