- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Shangri-La

The Wall Street Journal announced yesterday that it had "discovered the actual Shangri-La of campaign finance reform."
"When this primary season ends, we'd like to see all the railers against 'special interests' and 'dirty money' charter a jet to the country that now has the galaxy's toughest campaign laws Thailand. Troubled by the problem of corrupt politicians, Thailand's reformers have tried to prevent the candidates from being beholden to their supporters by instituting the most draconian campaign finance reform imaginable: Candidates are not allowed to campaign," the Journal said in an editorial.
Candidates for the nation's 2,000-seat Senate "were unable to reach out with more than a smile. Strict laws restricted them from stating their positions on issues, allying themselves with a particular political party or even hinting at why voters should choose them over the others. Radio and TV commercials were banned. Candidates couldn't even use a megaphone."
Alas, actual vote-buying remains a problem in this electoral paradise, the newspaper said.

Sleepyheads

Looking a tad sleepy, Hillary Rodham Clinton got out of her house in Chappaqua early yesterday and cast her first vote as a New Yorker. Her presidential primary choice was no surprise, the Associated Press reports.
"I voted for Al Gore," said Mrs. Clinton, who moved to this New York suburb to run for the U.S. Senate. "I think he'd be the best president we could have to begin this century."
Mrs. Clinton arrived at 7 a.m. at Douglas Grafflin Elementary School, where she greeted poll workers and Principal Michael Kirsch told her, "We appreciate your coming early." She was the 11th voter at the school, which is about 1 and 1/2 miles from her new home in Chappaqua.
After casting her vote, which only took 33 seconds, she told reporters, "It was great."
At the very same hour, on New York City's Upper East Side, Mrs. Clinton's Republican opponent, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, cast his vote for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Arriving at the high school polling place, Mr. Giuliani chatted with another voter, remarking that he isn't even on today's ballot.
While the presidential primary was yesterday in New York, the state's congressional primaries are in September. Neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Giuliani faces any major opposition within their own parties.

Nervous mother

Barbara Bush, mother of the presidential candidate, sent out an e-mail message yesterday reminding supporters in New York to get out and vote in yesterday's primary.
"This message comes from a nervous mother in Houston, Texas, who would love to be in New York March 7th to cast her vote for George W. Bush," Mrs. Bush said. "Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to do that, which is why we're counting on all our friends in New York to help give George a strong victory on this long journey that hopefully will end at the White House."

Rebel yell?

Gov. George W. Bush says he is considering NAACP demands to take down an image of the Confederate battle flag from the Texas Supreme Court building.

The NAACP says the plaque bearing the flag is offensive to minorities and doesn't belong in the state's highest courts.

"I'm looking at that issue right now," Mr. Bush told a news conference yesterday.

The plaque is located in the entryway to the building housing the state's two top courts the Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It includes an image of the battle flag and quotes Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Another plaque includes the Confederate great seal.

The building was commissioned in 1955 after Texans approved a constitutional amendment to use money from the state's Confederate Pension Fund to build it.

Bush spokesman Mike Jones said the governor's office has been discussing the matter with the commission that maintains state buildings. "They really haven't come up with any specific solutions yet," Mr. Jones said. "We believe it's not clear to the public why that building was dedicated to veterans of the Civil War."

Dot-com election

Mary Rose Wilcox made election history yesterday in Phoenix simply by touching a computer mouse.

At 12:01 a.m., the Maricopa County Supervisor voted in Arizona's Democratic presidential primary via the Internet, the nation's first such ballot cast in a binding election for public office, the Associated Press reports.

"We've made history," Miss Wilcox said to cheers at Democratic Party headquarters early yesterday morning. The Republicans had their primary last month and didn't have an on-line option.

Miss Wilcox was one of more than 60,000 Arizona Democrats expected to vote either via the Internet or by mail during early voting for Saturday's primary. Early voting runs through Friday.

By using the Internet, participants will be able to cast their votes from wherever they can plug in a computer.

"It is a milestone," said Phil Noble, president of Politics Online, a South Carolina-based election consulting company. "There will be problems … but it will work and when people see that it worked, they'll remember Arizona was the first."

Democratic Party officials hope on-line voting will increase participation.

"This is a quicker, faster, easier way to vote than we've ever had in the United States," said state party Chairman Mark Fleisher.

Pro-choice Republicans

The Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, which describes itself as "a national organization dedicated to protecting women's right to choose [abortion] and to fight for family planning and reproductive health legislation," held press conferences in seven states and the District yesterday to demand the GOP remove the pro-life plank from its platform.
To bolster its position, the group cited a poll conducted in January by American Viewpoint showing "65 percent of Republicans surveyed did not support the current platform language. Only 30 percent supported the current language that calls for a constitutional ban on all abortion."
The group added in a prepared statement: "Interestingly, only 42 percent of those who call themselves 'pro-life' support the current platform. Among all Americans, regardless of party, only 19 percent supported retaining the current platform."

Plaque sought

Rep. Anne M. Northup, Kentucky Republican, sought approval yesterday to have a plaque placed at the Lincoln Memorial on the spot where Martin Luther King made his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.
"This is a time in our country when we are all searching to build new bridges, better understandings, more unity," Mrs. Northup told the National Capital Memorial Commission, one of three panels that have a say in the placement of memorials in Washington.
"Part of that process is to walk in the steps of history and visualize what happened that made such a difference and hopefully inspire people to continue the promise of those words."
The House already has approved a bill authorizing placement of the marker, and a companion bill is pending in the Senate.

Forgiving McCain

President Clinton had kind words yesterday for Republican presidential candidate John McCain when a reporter asked about a "cruel joke that he told about [daughter] Chelsea" a few years ago.
"He asked me to forgive him, and I did," Mr. Clinton said. "And since I have asked people to forgive me, I would be in a poor position if I refused the same thing. And I believe he's I believe him to be a good man, and he asked me to forgive him and I did."

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