- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Trench warfare

Democrats dream that New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani "will simply beat himself in his high-profile Senate race against the first lady," Los Angeles Times political correspondent Ronald Brownstein writes.

"But that's almost certainly a false hope. Though she's been on her best behavior as a candidate, Clinton is such an inherently polarizing cultural and political figure that she's unlikely to win a personality contest even against the prickly Giuliani.

"If Clinton has a chance, most local analysts agree, it's by creating an issue debate that makes the race a referendum on what each of them might do in the Senate. And that won't be easy in a contest whose sheer spectacle and entertainment value reduces issues to a sideshow," Mr. Brownstein said.

He added: "Both camps are treating this race as a war. (Fearful of disruptions, the two candidates guard their public schedules as if they were state secrets, announcing major events sometimes only hours in advance.) Yet, for all this intensity, the contest has been strangely static, more trench warfare than blitzkrieg.

"Though a New York Post survey released Sunday gave Clinton a narrow lead within the margin of error, virtually every other poll this year has put Giuliani ahead, with very few undecided… . And though the race is already drawing saturation coverage, the two already seem to be trading votes only at the margin; even in the Post poll that showed her ahead, Clinton only drew 45 percent.

" 'I sometimes feel I could wake up in seven months and we could just start then,' acknowledged one senior Clinton adviser."

Not the right time

"Democrat Julie Wells, who had given party leaders hope they might be able to oust Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington Republican, when she announced a bid for his seat two weeks ago, abruptly quit the race Thursday," Roll Call reports.

" 'This is not the right time for me,' Wells told the Spokesman-Review newspaper. 'I guess I had not realized how time-consuming this would be.'

"She said she would support construction executive Wayne Brokaw, one of two other Democratic candidates currently vying to unseat Nethercutt, who has been aggressively targeted since he decided to drop a term-limits pledge last year. Brokaw is the cousin of NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw."

Black Republican quits

Faye Anderson, a black Republican who was vice chairman of a party committee intended to recruit minorities, has quit the GOP, citing "a pattern of racial blunders."

She had been the No. 2 person on the New Majority Council, which the party established in 1997 to reach out to minorities. She resigned in a terse letter to Patricia Harrison, co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, USA Today reports.

She cited Texas Gov. George W. Bush's visit to Bob Jones University, as well as Mr. Bush's refusal to get involved in South Carolina's Confederate-flag controversy, the newspaper said.

Hassling Republicans

"Between the police clampdown of Chicago '68 and the anarchy of Seattle '99, there's a happy balance to be struck on how to handle the folks who are hoping to hassle not hug Philadelphia Republican convention visitors this summer," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.

"Right now, it's looking a bit like Chicago, with city authorities reserving judgment on whether protesters will have access to key public spaces downtown," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Until July 1, the host committee that brought the Republican National Convention to Philadelphia has pretty much promised the GOP first dibs on them."

That has "caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union," which is contemplating legal action, the newspaper said.

However, a city official charged with managing convention matters told the newspaper that "reasonable permits" will be issued for mass demonstrations "all over the city."

He should've lied

"George W. Bush committed a serious gaffe last week when he told the New York Times that he had not changed any of his views as a result of his campaign against John McCain and that he did not regret anything he had done to win the nomination," the New Republic says.

"A gaffe, as Michael Kinsley once wrote in these pages, is when a politician says what he really believes. Bush's comments qualified as a gaffe because, rather than make an insincere and politically convenient apology to McCain, he volunteered his earnest conviction that he had been right all along. The ensuing scandal dominated campaign coverage for several days," the magazine observed.

"Bush might have avoided such straits had he followed the example of Al Gore, who now speaks of McCain in purely reverential tones. The vice president recently told an Illinois audience that 'John McCain was right… . The voice that John McCain made heard is a voice I want to honor in the remaining seven and a half months of this campaign.' This just a few weeks after Gore lambasted McCain as a Bush clone.

" 'Both [McCain] and Governor Bush are for taking away a woman's right to choose,' Gore said at a moment when it appeared McCain might win the GOP nomination, adding that 'neither had the guts to speak out against the Confederate flag … both are in the hip pocket of the NRA.'

"But Gore's comically abrupt turnaround, unlike Bush's stubborn consistency, does not qualify as a gaffe. And reporters wonder why straight-talking politicians are so rare."

Keys to the kingdom

"Vice President Al Gore is almost certain to win the 2000 presidential election, according to a historically based prediction system that has worked for every election since 1984," writes Allan J. Lichtman, dean of the history department at American University and author of several books on U.S. elections.

"Gore put himself in the driver's seat in the election against the certain Republican nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, by defeating former Sen. Bill Bradley in every Democratic primary contest," Mr. Lichtman said in an opinion piece for Reuters news agency.

"According to 'The Keys to the White House,' a prediction system that I developed in 1981, which measures the underlying factors the govern presidential elections, Gore should win the Nov. 7 ballot."

The keys "are based on the theory presidential elections are referenda on the performance of the party holding the White House," he said.

"The study of history shows that a pragmatic electorate chooses a president according to the performance of the party in power. If the nation fares well during the four years of the incumbent party, it wins another term in office; otherwise, the challenging party prevails.

"The fate of the party in power is largely in its own hands; there is little that the challenging party can do to win or lose a presidential election."

Scientific misconduct

"The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency are investigating a case of alleged manipulation of scientific evidence in as many as 1,000 court cases and administrative matters the EPA is handling," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Most involve allegations of Superfund violations in the Midwest, according to the agency. The probe focuses on the EPA's Central Regional Laboratory in Chicago, which uses analysts employed by the EPA and a contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp.," reporter John Fialka said.

"In formal disclosure letters to lawyers and judges handling 42 EPA cases, the Justice Department said that at least four employees at the lab 'may have been engaged in misconduct' that skewed analysis of evidence and quality-assurance checks on data of evidence sent from other laboratories."

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