- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Noble: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Despite his avuncular looks, Mr. Hastert hasn't walked away from too many fights. After all, he was a wrestler in high school and college, and he led the Yorkville High School Foxes to a state wrestling championship in 1976. He's used to bloody partisan battles, too he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 and served as chairman of several committees before unexpectedly being vaulted to the speakership in the turmoil following the 1998 election.
Mr. Hastert has made things happen in the House especially since Mr. Bush was elected. He pushed through the tax cut, helped knock campaign-finance reform out of the ring and shocked the establishment by ensuring passage of the president's energy-security bill. The just-passed post-September 11 stimulus bill was also his handiwork.
Mr. Hastert responds to crises by getting people to cooperate so that needs are met, unlike his counterpart in the Senate.

Knaves: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, for his deliberate, despotic delaying tactics.
Someone might want to remind Democratic senators that there's a war on one that extends beyond the Beltway battlefield. They might be surprised. After all, since September 11, Mr. Daschle and his associates (such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy) have turned the world's greatest deliberative body into the world's greatest delaying body.
So far, Mr. Daschle has deflated the economic stimulus package, short-circuited the president's energy plan, set fast-track trade promotion authority in the slow lane and put off work on terrorism insurance for a rainy day.
Instead, Mr. Daschle has decided to push forward a farm bill that won't need additional financial fertilizer for another 10 months and a railroad pension plan that would keep chugging along regardless of Senate action.
Such bunker-mentality tactics shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, Mr. Daschle is a feverent ideological warrior, whose overriding priority is winning elections by any means necessary. Union groups are as big backers of the railroad pension plan as they are detractors of free trade authority. Environmental groups want to put the president's energy plan on the endangered list, and no liberal likes the president's tax cut proposals.
Besides, by attempting to bug out of session as soon as possible, Mr. Dashcle puts himself back on the campaign trail, specifically, a multi-state fund-raising tour he and other members of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are scheduled to be on during the week of Dec. 10. To that end, perhaps it's just a conscience that Mr. Daschle's associates at the Democratic National Committee asked the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) to suspend certain rules regulating the spending of soft money. (The FEC's answer was no.)
Apparently, it takes far more than a September 11-style tragedy to keep Mr. Daschle off the partisan warpath.


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