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Beware the Angry Wolverines

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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When the McCain campaign abruptly pulled out of Michigan two weeks ago, some Obama aides and top Democrats in the state's congressional delegation dismissed it as a ploy and argued that the GOP would be back in the state full time, big time.

Indeed, since that stunning announcement Oct. 2, it's not as if the Republicans have disappeared. The Republican National Committee has been running ads, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee, is still fixin' to go there to shore up the base and work those swing voters.

The Michigan GOP was not particularly gracious in its reaction to McCain. "He's a general who left the battlefield in the middle of the fight," said L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive and a GOP leader. "I'm disappointed in his behavior; he's thrown a lot of good Republican candidates under the bus." The resentment has continued, even though recent polls validate the wisdom of McCain's move.

The great fear, of course, is that McCain's retreat -- and incumbent Democratic Sen. Carl M. Levin's ridiculously huge lead over his challenger, Michigan state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk-- could produce a GOP turnout more like that in an off-year election, while Democrats come out in high numbers. Then there are concerns about declines in fundraising. All this would mean losses in "down-ballot" races at the state and local level and a loss to Democrats of maybe a couple of congressional seats.

But not to worry. Big-name Republicans have stepped into the breach, coming to the rescue, as one recent state party e-mail put it, to "fire up the troops and raise money for our party." Native son and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was there recently for a two-day tour doing events for the state organization, various Republican candidates and Rep. Tim Walberg (R), who's in a tough race.

Romney even came by the state headquarters in Lansing after an event for Walberg, the e-mail said, and "thanked everyone for their efforts, encouraged folks to never give up and left us with a surprise check for $50,000 towards our statewide efforts!" There was chatter that Minnesota governor and former vice presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty (R) might come by to help. President Bush is headed there today for a meeting in Grand Rapids with business leaders and then off to nearby Ada for a closed-door fundraiser to help GOP congressional candidates.

And don't forget that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) is heading to Michigan next Wednesday for a luncheon fundraiser for Hoogendyk in Farmington Hills -- $500 for a photo op. Huckabee is also going to be at the other end of the state that day for a speech at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan, in Benton Harbor.

Sound as if some folks are already prepping for the 2012 campaign?

Socialism?

Many conservatives have been awfully quiet about President Bush's plan to invest $250 billion in the stocks of the nation's banks. But some are on record as sharply condemning such actions as dangerously socialistic.

For example, testifying before Congress back in 1999, our former colleague and now undersecretary of state James K. Glassman took issue with a Clinton administration proposal to invest some of the federal budget surplus in the stock market as a way of bolstering Social Security.

Glassman, testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said he was in the midst of working on a book on the stock market, "Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market."

"Ownership of stock by the government raises deep and troubling issues," Glassman told the committee. "I do not want to sound overly dramatic, but, by definition, the plan is a step toward the dictionary definition of socialism: government ownership of the means of production."

So "should the federal government have an ownership stake in private corporations?" he asked. "My own answer is no," he said.

End of an Era

Some administration officials have been making their final calls on groups with which they've worked closely for many years. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped by to speak to the department's Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion.

After she was introduced, she noted: "This is my last meeting with you as secretary, and thank you for not applauding that fact."

Now You See It . . .

Speaking of Rice, there was a picture of her with President Bush and former U.N. ambassador and undersecretary of state John R. Bolton hanging outside Bolton's old seventh-floor office at Foggy Bottom. Bolton, a hard-liner who left the administration in 2006, has been a fierce and outspoken critic of Rice's policies on North Korea and Iran.

Rice recently had occasion to do a walkthrough of Bolton's former digs. Next thing you know, a couple days later, the lovely photo disappeared. Some see pettiness at work. The more charitably inclined see the odd occurrence as coincidental.


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