- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

Congressional Republicans have a strategic weapon in the battle to frame the national debate this fall and Wednesday night they paid him back.

Sens. Rick Santorum, Arlen Specter and Sam Brownback and a dozen or so members of the House were on hand to laud former '60s-radical-turned conservative-activist David Horowitz at the Washington Court Hotel and to help raise $40,000 for his Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

Mr. Horowitz, the center's founder and director, will use the funds to continue crusading against what he sees as the pervasive influence of the left in education, the news media and the entertainment business and to get the word out about Restoration Weekend, the popular issues- and strategy-shaping confab he hosts each year. (Attendees delight in calling it the "Dark Ages" to poke fun at the New Year's Renaissance Weekend popularized by President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton and their liberal allies.)

Republicans also are high on Mr. Horowitz's independently published newsletter, the War Room (a periodic "crib sheet" on vital issues sent to 80,000 party members) and his recent political manifesto, "The Art of Political War: How the Republicans Can Fight to Win," which urges party stalwarts to go on the offensive against a foe that he says will give no quarter when it comes to irrational arguments, vicious stereotyping and the politics of personal destruction.

As a former communist and Black Panther collaborator, Mr. Horowitz knows whereof he speaks as far as unprincipled battle tactics are concerned.

"You have to line up, or you are going to lose," he warned the audience of about 100 right-thinking congressional members, staff and friends. To succeed, he said, Republicans must realize that "90 percent of people are tuned out" of the political process and then find the right symbols to show they are "the party of the underdog, of hope and the American dream."

A libertarian (and a bit of an iconoclast) at heart, Mr. Horowitz had no reservations mentioning censorship among the issues on which he departs from traditional conservatism.

"I'm opposed to the censors on the left as well as the right," he said, mentioning the V-chip and rating systems for feature films as particularly odious concepts in civil-liberties terms: "People who want censorship always think they'll do the censoring, and it's not true."

His listeners seemed to welcome such views as a lively catalyst for intraparty as well as partisan debate.

"He's bright, articulate and has a great deal of credibility because he started out on the other side," said Rep. Bob Barr, stressing his friend's ability to "bridge the gap" on certain substantive issues such as personal privacy and keeping the Internet free of government interference that "cross the ideological spectrum."

Others pointed to his particular brand of outspokenness, which never fails to provoke a controversy whenever he appears on the air. "As soon as you mention his name, the phone lines start to light up," said Blanquita Cullum, director of the National Association of Talk Show Hosts. "He's a hot, hot guest, and the audience has read his stuff."

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