- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2000

No sense of irony

President Clinton, who is spending the closing days of his administration going from fund-raiser to fund-raiser, attended a $500-a-person event Wednesday for John Kelly, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico and a Clinton college pal who is running for Congress.

Mr. Kelly was the former top prosecutor against Wen Ho Lee, the one-time Los Alamos nuclear scientist who spent nine months in solitary confinement before being freed last month after pleading guilty to a single felony. Mr. Clinton has said he was "quite troubled" by the handling of the case.

With no sense of irony, Mr. Clinton praised Mr. Kelly, saying, "We need more people in Congress who have spent most of their lives helping the people that most of us forget about."

Man of the people

Vice President Al Gore tied up traffic for miles in New Jersey so he could attend a fund-raiser Wednesday at the home of rock music star Jon Bon Jovi, the New York Times reports.

"State police closed off miles of road for Mr. Gore, who flew in and out of Newark International Airport for a Democratic fund-raiser on Mr. Bon Jovi's 18-acre riverside estate in Middletown Township in Monmouth County," reporter Shaila K. Dewan writes.

"On the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, I-78 and I-80, cars were backed up for miles, first about 6 p.m. and then again after the fund-raiser ended about 9 p.m., traffic monitors said."

John Toldi, a producer for Shadow Traffic, said highways usually were closed section by section for major dignitaries, but in Mr. Gore's case, a 25-mile stretch of the parkway was shut off.

While thousands fumed in traffic, Mr. Gore collected a cool $850,000 at the fund-raiser.

Pain and disbelief

The oldest rabbinic group in America yesterday implored vice-presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, not to attend a dinner sponsored by a homosexual-rights group on the eve of Yom Kippur.

"Our policy is not to involve ourselves in political races, nor do we endorse candidates. When, however, our entire nation and much of the world begins to relate to Torah true Orthodox 'observant' Judaism through the prism of the statements and actions of vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, we feel it is necessary to clarify several issues and to cry out in pain and disbelief," the group, representing 500 rabbis, heads of Yeshivos and congregations, said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Lieberman is scheduled to be honored tomorrow at an awards dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual-rights group.

Orthodox Judaism prohibits all sexual relationships outside marriage and opposes homosexual "marriage" and other aspects of the homosexual-rights agenda.

Tortured excuse

Joseph I. Lieberman's decision to run simultaneously for vice president and for re-election as a U.S. senator from Connecticut "is unfair to his constituents at home and undercuts his own image as a person who puts principle above political convenience," the New York Times says.

"Mr. Lieberman has constructed a tortured and self-serving excuse for depriving Connecticut voters of a Democratic Senate nominee who would be guaranteed to serve if elected to that office. Mr. Lieberman argues that by dropping out now, he robs those voters of a chance to choose which candidate should be the Democratic nominee. His replacement on the Democratic line, probably the state attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, would be chosen by a committee of party leaders," the newspaper said in an editorial.

The procedure is legally mandated in such cases, and if Mr. Lieberman ends up as vice president, the Republican governor would choose his successor, the newspaper observed.

"Voters have a right to ask Mr. Lieberman and the national Democratic leadership this question: If you believe that Democratic control of the Senate is really important to the welfare of the working families Mr. Gore is always talking about, why are you treating that control so casually?"

Mr. Lieberman has until Oct. 27 "to drop out and give his state the contest it deserves," the newspaper concluded.

Snidely Whiplash

Peggy Noonan, who was a speech writer for President Reagan, thinks Al Gore dominated Tuesday's presidential debate "from the git-go," but ended up losing because of his "condescending" and "creepy" manner.

"The impatient, disrespectful sighs into the mike as Mr. Bush spoke. The laughing, head shaking dismissals that seemed not natural but forced. Mr. Gore revealed himself to be quite an actor but the kind who makes you think of words like phony, not words like gifted, which is how you think when you see Mr. Clinton act," Miss Noonan writes in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"Mr. Gore so over-acted the role of Superior Person in Control of Events that he made me think of Snidely Whiplash, the railroad lawyer who twirls his mustache as he ties the damsel to the tracks. He seemed almost comically crafty… ."

FCC ruling

Federal rules that require broadcasters to give candidates a chance to respond to personal attacks and political endorsements have been suspended for the duration of the 2000 campaign.

Over the vehement objection of its Republican members, the Federal Communications Commission put the rules on hold, saying that the election season offered "an ideal time to determine how broadcasters are affected by the political editorial rule."

The regulation requires TV and radio stations that endorse a political candidate to notify and give free rebuttal time to the candidate's opponent. The other suspended rule requires broadcasters to provide politicians or other private citizens with air time to respond when they have been attacked during a program.

The FCC also said it would seek comments on whether to expand the scope of the rule in giving parties a right of reply to broadcasts, the Associated Press reports.

Broadcasters howled at the possibility that the commission review could lead to a revival of a now-defunct provision called the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to air multiple viewpoints when covering issues and allowed parties to complain to the FCC.

Dinner time

An investigation for the ABC News program "20/20" finds that an unprecedented number of campaign contributors were invited to state dinners at the White House this year.

A computer analysis of the four state dinners hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton this year revealed a total of 390 Democratic donors on the guest lists, representing more than $10 million in contributions. Of the nongovernmental guests invited, nearly half 47 percent were contributors to the Democratic Party, reporter Brian Ross found.

The report will air tonight on the ABC program, which begins at 10 p.m.

Polling corner

The latest presidential tracking polls probably don't mean much, considering that most of the interviews came before Tuesday night's debate (you'll have to wait until Saturday, or better yet next week, to get a real idea of how the debate played out in the polls).

Still, there are some interesting numbers.

The Voter.com Battleground 2000 tracking poll released yesterday found Republican George W. Bush clinging to a 2 percentage point lead over Democrat Al Gore, 43-41.

The Portrait of America (www.portraitofamerica.com) tracking poll released yesterday gave Mr. Bush a 4 percentage point lead, 45-41.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll released yesterday showed Mr. Gore soaring to a huge lead over Mr. Bush, 51 percent to 40 percent.

Go figure.

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