- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2000

Would-be veeps treated differently by the media

The difference in the way the media introduced the American people to this year's Republican and Democratic vice presidential candidates was astounding. In fact, from the media's descriptions of the would-be veeps, you might think they were in the same party.

On Monday, when Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman entered the 2000 campaign as Vice President Al Gore's running mate, he was described repeatedly as a "centrist," a "moderate" and, in some cases, a "conservative." That could not be further from the truth.

Mr. Lieberman did castigate President Clinton from the Senate floor, and he has joined forces with Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, to chastise the entertainment industry for dishing out excessive violence to our children. But that's where his "conservative" credentials stop.

Mr. Lieberman voted against banning partial-birth abortion and in favor of granting special rights to homosexuals. Neither of those positions reflects a "moderate" philosophy.

In fact, both liberal and conservative watchdog groups ranked Mr. Lieberman's Senate votes as far from the middle. The American Conservative Union (ACU) computed his lifetime average to be 19 out of 100, and Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) gave him a score of 77. In addition, in 1999, Mr. Lieberman received a perfect goose egg from the ACU and an impressive 95 from the ADA. If Mr. Lieberman were truly a centrist, one would think his numbers would be somewhat similar. I guess you don't have to be a math whiz to be a media commentator.

Nonetheless, CBS reporter John Roberts cast Mr. Lieberman on "The Early Show" as a "real sort of centrist Democrat." CNN reporter John King said he "is viewed as a Democratic moderate" who "is in sync with Gore on the major issues, again, both products of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council." NBC's Claire Shipman called Mr. Lieberman on the MSNBC simulcast of "Imus in the Morning" a "conservative Democrat" and Mr. Gore "a pretty conservative Democrat."

Richard B. Cheney, on the other hand, did not receive such favorable treatment. On July 25, when Texas Gov. George W. Bush named the former defense secretary as his running mate, Dan Rather on the "CBS Evening News" said Mr. Cheney's voting record in Congress was, quoting from the Democrats' playbook, "outside the American mainstream."

One could conclude from Mr. Cheney's ACU rating of 90, based on his votes in Congress, that he was quite conservative. In all fairness, perhaps some could make the case that Mr. Cheney is "outside the American mainstream." But the way the media described Mr. Lieberman does not square with their portrayal or should I say, caricature of Mr. Cheney. The two vice presidential candidates are practically equidistant from the 50-yard line, but from the media descriptions of the two of them, you would never know it.

When Mr. Cheney joined the Bush team, the polls showed a bounce for the Texas governor. Then after the Republican National Convention, Mr. Bush soared ahead of Mr. Gore by more than 15 points in most polls. Now that Mr. Lieberman has been added to the Gore ticket, the polls are showing a statistically dead-even contest. We haven't even seen yet how the Democratic National Convention will affect the race.

So the media's involvement in this campaign will have no small effect. The media knows it and likes it that way. Try tuning in next week to catch the coverage of the convention if you can stomach it. Watch how the talking heads describe Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman during the lovefest from Los Angeles. Observe how the truth will be twisted before your very eyes. Witness how democracy will be stolen from the American people. Who says politics isn't exciting? It's just too bad it has evolved from being a participatory sport into one for spectators.

ROBERT MCFARLAND

Director of media relations

Free Congress Foundation

Washington

Standouts at women's group remembered for their good work

As a volunteer advocate for crime victims for more than 12 years, I will miss Barbara Ledeen and Amy Holmes of the Independent Women's Forum ("Co-founder, analyst depart conservative women's group," Aug. 8).

Both of these women vigorously lobbied for the right of a rape victim to have her assailant tested for the HIV virus and to have DNA samples used as evidence, despite pressure from women's groups that sided with the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) many political allies, including the National Organization for Women. In many states, radical HIV laws have given the privacy rights of rapists priority over a rape victim's right to know whether her life is in danger. It is difficult to locate politically active women who genuinely care about issues that affect women's health and safety, outside of outdated feminist organizations that ignore mainstream concerns and portray women as pitiful. I thank Miss Holmes for having the courage to write in USA Today about how the ACLU is preventing DNA evidence from being used to solve violent crimes, including murder.

Most appealing about both departing women is that they will help anyone when called upon, no matter what the party label or group membership. I salute both Mrs. Ledeen and Miss Holmes for being loyal public servants and remembering the issues people care about most instead of resorting to the usual partisan bickering that bores us all to tears.

DEIDRE RAVER

New York

Taking aim at the military readiness problem

"A nation with a projected $1.9 trillion budget surplus can afford consistently to allocate a minimum 4 percent of its [gross domestic product] to ensure its security," Frank Gaffney Jr. writes. He is right on target with his "4 percent solution" to the deterioration of our nation's military readiness ("The 4% solution," Commentary, Aug, 8).

"We the People" must elect a president and a Congress that will live up to the constitutional imperative to "provide for the common defense." We must vote for those candidates who espouse solutions:

n A defense budget of at least 3 percent to 4 percent of the gross domestic product.

n An end to peacekeeping missions that have no exit strategy and that siphon valuable time from battle preparation.

n Modernization.

n Adequate compensation that takes more than 6,000 troops off food stamps.

n Contracts awarded to makers of functional chemical suits and safe vaccines.

n Quality health care for veterans, active-duty troops, military retirees and their families.

n Rejection of trade deals that might escalate the military modernization of adversaries.

n A return to tough recruit training.

n Repudiation of those who would trade unit cohesion for votes from the radical left.

If you get the picture, use your vote a vote purchased by the blood of citizen-soldiers to elect a president and Congress that share your perspective.

ALAN G. LANCE SR.

National commander

American Legion

Washington

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Frank Gaffney Jr. accurately claims both Gen. Hugh Shelton and Under Secretary of Defense Jacques Gansler have concerns about the state of readiness of our nation's troops. In fact, leadership from all sides of the Pentagon has been warning Congress for several years that the armed services are facing severe shortfalls.

Congress recently increased next year's spending for the Department of Defense by $5.1 billion over what the president requested. It would be reasonable to assume that this increase, bringing the Pentagon back to 95 percent of its Cold War spending average, would be a good thing for U.S. military forces struggling to maintain their capabilities. However, a closer view of the bottom line shows that Congress actually cut $450 million from the accounts specifically responsible for military readiness. The same bill funds more than $7 billion in extra projects added by members of Congress but not requested by the Department of Defense.

It's going to take more than two presidential candidates waxing poetic about military readiness for the very real threat to our armed services' capabilities to be addressed. Both Congress and the next administration must be willing to apply fiscal responsibility to defense spending, funding real needs and not congressional pork.

ALISE VALENE FRYE

Director, national security project

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Washington

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