Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
Richard Perle, the veteran neocon hawk who helped cheerlead the United States into the Iraq war, is back. As the fight intensifies over ratifying the START treaty limiting the nuclear stockpiles of the US and Russia, Perle has emerged as a prominent conservative voice urging Senate Republicans to say no to the treaty. Writing on the National Review's website this week, he and Kim Holmes of the Heritage Foundation slam the treaty "as a throwback to the Cold War paradigm, a bilateral treaty in a multilateral world." Perle, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, insists that the treaty "threatens our freedom to deploy ballistic-missile defense," and he contends "that the Russians need this treaty, while we do not."
Perle has been trading on his past experience as a Reagan defense official to back up his gripes about the START treaty, noting in a recent Wall Street Journalcolumn (co-written with Edwin Meese III, Reagan's attorney general) that when he was with Reagan during a summit in Iceland with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he watched Reagan ditch "an otherwise desirable treaty with the Soviet Union precisely because it would have impeded work on his Strategic Defense Initiative." (Five former GOP secretaries of state—Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Colin Powell—say the new START agreement does not block US missile defense.) And in an interview with a conservative website, Perle again played the Reagan card, maintaining that this START accord is "certainly not the kind of treaty Ronald Reagan fought for and accomplished."
A group of journalists, including myself, have been trying for two years to win access, under Alaska's open records law, to emails Palin sent and received during her partial stint as governor of Alaska. But the state has postponed releasing the emails, with the office in charge of the request repeatedly asking for and receiving extensions from a series of state attorneys general (including Palin appointees). But the delays could be coming to a halt, with the current AG demanding a "work plan" for turning over the Palin emails.
Nine days after Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008 tapped Palin to be his vice presidential running-mate, I sent Palin's office a request for all emails written by her, received by her, or cc'ed to her during her tenure as governor. In subsequent weeks other news organizations, including the Associated Press and MSNBC.com, the state Democratic Party, and individuals (such as Alaskan citizen watchdog Andree McLeod) filed similar requests.
How can President Barack Obama whip up public support for a "minimalist" war? That's the political challenge he faces as he proceeds with his current Afghanistan policy.
At a White House press event on Thursday morning, the president discussed his administration's annual strategic review of the war in Afghanistan. No surprise: Obama claimed progress there and in Pakistan, while acknowledging that serious challenges remain. A declassified five-page White House assessment of the Af-Pak policy released this morning maintained that Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan has "arrested" the "momentum achieved by the Taliban in recent years...in much of the country." But it noted "these gains remain fragile and reversible."
Politico's big scoop today is that Sarah Palin has decided to try to charm the "lamestream media." Perhaps that's because she can read the polls. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey shows that her negatives are...growing. After her TLC reality show, after Bristol's appearance on DWTS, after releasing yet another book, after all her tweets and Facebook notes attacking all sorts of foes, the former-half-term Alaskan governor is slipping in the polls. From MSNBC.com's First Read:
In potential 2012 match-ups, [Obama] bests Romney by seven points (47%-40%), Palin by 22 points (55%-33%), and a relatively generic candidate like John Thune by 20 points (47%-27%). Of course, Thune and Romney both hold him under 50%....The other chief headline in the NBC/WSJ poll is Sarah Palin’s starting position for 2012, if she decides to run. In addition to Obama leading her by a whopping 22 points -- compared with Romney’s seven-point deficit, and a generic GOP candidate’s three-point deficit in the poll -- Palin’s negative rating has climbed to 50%. That’s the highest negative rating for anyone measured in this poll (and it’s two points lower than Nancy Pelosi’s negative rating from last month). And get this: The only major subgroups that Palin wins in a head-to-head match-up with Obama are Republicans, conservatives, and FOX viewers. That’s it, folks. NBC/WSJ co-pollster Bill McInturff (R) says that this is “a sobering starting point” for Palin if she decides to run for president.
Sober? It might be cause for a drink. No wonder Palin is making nice with the political media—such as Time magazine, ABC News, and, yes, even The New York Times. It seems her in-your-face-on-cable-Twitter-Facebook-and-every-other-imaginable-platform is not quite working. So Palin is now using the mainstreamers to rehab her image. It's possible, though, the problem has not been Palin's media strategy, but the product itself.
On Wednesday afternoon, as House and Senate Democrats were trying to handle the end-of-session passage of an $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) sent out a blistering email fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he heads. In the note, Cornyn decried the 6,600 earmarks totaling $8 billion contained in the bill:
Will you help send a message to Senate Democrats? Go here and tell them that you will not stand for business as usual in Washington. They should not pass this bill and to stop spending money our country doesn't have.
Cornyn failed to mention that last year he numbered among Congress' top earmarkers—supporting dozens of earmark requests that added up to $228 million.
As for the current bill, Cornyn has had a tough time explaining his own contradictory actions. On Fox News, host Bill Hemmer hammered Cornyn for requesting $16 million worth of earmarks in the very bill he was denouncing Democrats for. "Can you defend that?" Hemmer presseed. Cornyn said that he supported the Senate GOP's two-year moratorium on earmarks and would vote against this spending bill. But with the Democrats in the majority, the bill could well pass without Cornyn's vote. Under that circumstance, he would be able to both claim credit for the earmarks and for voting against the Democratic bill.
At a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, Cornyn ran into similar trouble. After both he and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) slammed the bill, reporters grilled them on why the measure contained earmarks they'd requested. "I support those projects, but I don't support this bill," Thune said. When one reporter said to Cornyn, "It appears like you're saying one thing and doing another," the senator replied, "Not at all." As a GOP staffer tried to end the press conference, another reporter asked Cornyn if he would acknowledge "that it was wrong to put the earmarks in in the first place." Cornyn responded, "You've asked the question about five times and I've tried to answer it to the best of my ability." Then Cornyn left the room.
So one of the primo earmarkers on the Hill won't say whether he should have shoved earmarks into the current (or previous) spending bill. But he shows no hesitation in blasting Democrats for passing a measure containing his earmarks. In that NRSC email, he exclaims, "Democrats have a lot of explaining to do to taxpayers." So, too, does Cornyn.