POLITICS BY ANN COULTER

The elephant in the room

By Ann Coulter

Posted: January 16, 2008
6:25 p.m. Eastern

Unluckily for McCain, snowstorms in Michigan suppressed the turnout among Democratic “Independents” who planned to screw up the Republican primary by voting for our worst candidate. Democrats are notoriously unreliable voters in bad weather. Instead of putting on galoshes and going to the polls, they sit on their porches waiting for FEMA to rescue them.

In contrast to Michigan’s foul weather, New Hampshire was balmy on primary day, allowing McCain’s base – Democrats – to come out and vote for him.

Assuming any actual Republicans are voting for McCain – or for liberals’ new favorite candidate for us, Mike Huckabee – this column is for you.

I’ve been casually taking swipes at Mitt Romney for the past year based on the assumption that, in the end, Republicans would choose him as our nominee. My thinking was that Romney would be our nominee because he is manifestly the best candidate.

I had no idea that Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire planned to do absolutely zero research on the candidates and vote on the basis of random impulses.

Dear Republicans: Please do one-tenth as much research before casting a vote in a presidential election as you do before buying a new car.

One clue that Romney is our strongest candidate is the fact that Democrats keep viciously attacking him while expressing their deep respect for Mike Huckabee and John McCain.

This point was already extensively covered in Chapter 1 of “How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)”: Never take advice from your political enemies.

Turn on any cable news show right now, and you will see Democratic pundits attacking Romney, calling him a “flip-flopper,” and heaping praise on McCain and Huckleberry – almost as if they were reading some sort of “talking points.”

Doesn’t that raise the tiniest suspicions in any of you? Are you too busy boning up on Consumer Reports’ reviews of microwave ovens to spend one day thinking about who should be the next leader of the free world? Are you familiar with our “no exchange/no return” policy on presidential candidates? Voting for McCain because he was a POW a quarter-century ago or Huckabee because he was a Baptist preacher is like buying a new car because you like the color.

The candidate Republicans should be clamoring for is the one liberals are feverishly denouncing. That is Mitt Romney by a landslide.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich says Romney “is trying to sell himself as a leader,” but he “is actually a follower and a panderer, as confirmed by his flip-flops on nearly every issue.”

But Rich is in a swoon over Huckabee. I haven’t seen Rich this excited since they announced “Hairspray” was coming to Broadway.

Rich has continued to hyperventilate over “populist” charmer Huckabee even after it came to light that Huckabee had called homosexuality an “abomination.” Normally, any aspersions on sodomy or any favorable mentions of Christianity would lead to at least a dozen hysterical columns by Frank Rich.

Rich treated Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” as if it were a Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda film. (On a whim, I checked to see if Rich had actually compared Gibson to Riefenstahl in one of his many “Passion” reviews and yes, of course he had.)

Curiously, however, Huckabee’s Christianity doesn’t bother Rich. In column after column, Rich hails Huckabee as the only legitimate leader of the Republican Party. This is like a girl in high school who hates you telling you your hair looks great.

Liberals claim to be enraged at Romney for being a “flip-flopper.” I’ve looked and looked, and the only issue I can find that Romney has “flipped” on is abortion. When running for office in Massachusetts – or, for short, “the Soviet Union” – Romney said that Massachusetts was a pro-choice state and that he would not seek to change laws on abortion.

Romney’s first race was against Sen. Teddy Kennedy – whom he came closer to beating than any Republican ever had. If Romney needed to quote “The Communist Manifesto” to take out that corpulent drunk, all men of good will would owe him a debt of gratitude.

Even when Romney was claiming to support Roe v. Wade, he won the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life – a group I trust more than the editorial board of the New York Times. Romney’s Democratic opponents always won the endorsements of the very same pro-choice groups now attacking him as a “flip-flopper.”

After his term as governor, NARAL Pro-Choice America assailed Romney, saying: “(A)s governor he initially expressed pro-choice beliefs but had a generally anti-choice record. His position on choice has changed. His position is now anti-choice.”

Pro-abortion groups like the Republican Majority for Choice – the evil doppelganger to my own group, Democratic Majority for Life – are now running videos attacking Romney for “flip-flopping” on abortion.

Of all the Republican candidates for president, Romney and Rudy Giuliani are the only ones who had to be elected in pro-choice districts. Romney governed as a pro-lifer and has been viciously attacked by pro-abortion groups.

By contrast, Giuliani cleverly avoids the heinous “flip-flopper” label by continuing to embrace baby-killing. (Rudy flip-flops only on trivial matters like illegal immigration and his own marital vows.)

And, of course, Romney is a Mormon. Even a loser Mormon like Sen. Harry Reid claims to be pro-life. So having a candidate with a wacky religion isn’t all bad.

At worst, Romney will turn out to be a moderate Republican – a high-IQ, articulate, moral, wildly successful, moderate Republican. Of the top five Republican candidates for president, Romney is the only one who hasn’t dumped his first wife (as well as the second, in the case of Giuliani) – except Huckabee. And unlike Huckabee, Romney doesn’t have a son who hanged a dog at summer camp. So there won’t be any intern issues and there won’t be any Billy Carter issues.

It’s also possible that Romney will turn out to be a conservative Republican – at least more conservative than he was as governor of Massachusetts. Whatever problems Romney’s Mormonism gives voters, remember: Bill Clinton came in third in heavily Mormon Utah in 1992.
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Bad Reviews for Bush in the Mideast

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 By SCOTT MACLEOD/CAIRO

president Bush Saudi Arabia
President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah watch a display of the King’s horses at Al Janadriyah Farm in Al Janadriyah, Saudi Arabia


The disparaging of President Bush’s eight-day tour of the Middle East by America’s staunchest opponents in the region was hardly unexpected. Iran’s foreign minister claimed it was designed to give Israel a green light “to perpetrate new crimes” against Palestinians. Lebanon’s most senior Shi’ite cleric accused Bush of “war crimes.” A prominent jihadist web site called the President “this criminal, butcher and murderer of our blood.”

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But Bush was also harshly criticized — albeit in more circumspect language — in countries with close ties to Washington, including some from the very countries that rolled out the red carpet for the visiting President. Commenting on the two main purposes of the tour, even the most liberal Arab press questioned the sincerity of Bush’s efforts to establish a Palestinian state and criticized his campaign to pressure Iran over its nuclear program. On occasion, senior Arab officials contradicted or disputed Bush’s pronouncements even before he left their countries. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all was an editorial in the Saudi Gazette, comparing back-to-back visits by Western leaders to Riyadh this week. “It would be difficult to argue that French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the Kingdom was not in almost every way a success,” the paper said, adding, with an unmistakable swipe at Bush: “It’s refreshing to see a Western leader come to the Kingdom speaking of peace rather than just issuing warnings on the state of affairs in the region.”

Bush’s efforts to rally an Arab coalition to isolate Iran in the Gulf seemed to fall flat. Only days after he visited Kuwait, liberated in 1991 by a coalition led by the President’s father, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah was standing beside Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran, declaring: “My country knows who is our friend and who is our enemy, and Iran is our friend.”

Seldom has an American President’s visit left the region so underwhelmed, confirming Bush’s huge unpopularity on the street and his sagging credibility among Arab leaders he counts as allies. Part of the problem was the Administration’s increasingly mixed message, amplified by the intense media coverage of his trip. For example, in Dubai he gave what the White House billed as a landmark speech calling for “democratic freedom in the Middle East.” But during his last stop in Sharm el-Sheikh Wednesday, he lauded President Hosni Mubarak as an experienced, valued strategic partner for regional peace and security and made no mention of Cairo’s ongoing crackdown on opponents and critics — and the continuing imprisonment of Mubarak’s main opponent in the 2005 presidential election. “He is saying he supports the presidents and the governments in the Arab countries,” says Ghada Jamsheer, a women’s rights activist in Bahrain. “This is why people are angry. Why is he not putting pressure on these governments to push for human rights?” The fact that Bush rarely ventured beyond the walls of heavily guarded royal palaces, embassies and hotels, though completely understandable given concerns for his security, nonetheless further prevented him from making much connection with the people whose liberty he says he sincerely seeks.

Bush received his warmest welcome in Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud accorded him an honor reserved for special friends by inviting him to his horse farm outside Riyadh. But the Saudis didn’t hesitate when it came to publicly disagreeing with Bush’s views on various Middle East matters. Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, standing beside Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice, pointedly declined to endorse her call for more Arab gestures toward Israel or her relatively rosy assessment of political reconciliation in Iraq. After Bush jawboned the Saudis about increasing oil production to bring down oil prices, the Saudi oil minister shot back, “We will raise production when the market justifies it.”

For Arabs, the biggest bone of contention, as it has been so often in the past, was Bush’s handling of the Palestinian issue. Arab commentators gave Bush little credit for being the first American President to publicly support an independent Palestinian state, focusing instead on what they regarded as his Administration’s failure to pressure Israel into allowing Palestinians to attain their rights. The impression did not improve when just after Bush left Jerusalem after encouraging the two sides to make peace, Israel launched a ground attack and air strike on Palestinian militants in Gaza, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the “massacre.”

“We ought to be celebrating President George Bush’s declaration that a Palestinian state is ‘long overdue,'” said the Arab News in Jidda. “It is impossible to feel any excitement about Bush’s words, because no Palestinian, no Arab believes he will, or can, deliver. We have the Bush record with its damning testimony of failure and disaster. That is the reason for the skepticism and the cynicism.”

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