- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Plain nonsense

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell dismissed a Washington Post report published yesterday that said Mr. Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, would leave their posts in 2005.

“It’s nonsense. I don’t know what they are talking about. I serve at the pleasure of the president,” Mr. Powell said yesterday in an interview with Radio Sawa, a U.S.-funded broadcaster in the Middle East.

“The president and I have not discussed anything other than my continuing to do my job for him, and this is just one of those stories that emerge in Washington that reflects nothing more than gossip. And the gossip leads to a rash of speculation about who might fill a vacancy that does not exist,” Mr. Powell said.

The White House concurred.

“The president thinks he is doing an outstanding job and appreciates the job that he is doing,” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday. “The president looks forward to Secretary Powell continuing to work with him in our foreign-policy realm.”

“There was no conversation between the deputy secretary and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice concerning any plans for ‘stepping down,’” said State Department spokesman Philip Reeker in a statement released yesterday.

Blood-thirsty conservatives

Do “agenda-setting” liberal and conservative editorial pages differ?

A study released yesterday by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy finds “conservative papers are more partisan — often far more partisan — with regard to the intensity with which they criticize the other side.”

The study examined 510 editorials that appeared in The Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Washington Post over the last decade to reveal — surprise — conservative papers play hardball.

The Washington Times and Wall Street Journal praised the Bush administration 77 percent of the time, offered mixed reviews 16 percent of the time and criticism 7 percent of the time. Both papers praised former President Clinton 3 percent of the time, gave mixed reviews 9 percent of the time — and criticized Mr. Clinton 89 percent of the time.

The New York Times and Washington Post praised the Bush administration 10 percent, offered mixed review 23 percent and negative reviews 67 percent of the time. Both papers praised Mr. Clinton 36 percent of the time, had mixed reviews 35 percent of the time and criticized him 30 percent of the time.

Republicans are more “ideologically homogenous” than Democrats, and conservatives have more “message discipline” than liberals, concluded author Michael Tomasky, who said that the discipline was present in newspapers, think tanks and the Republican Party itself.

Conservatives won’t change, leaving liberal papers with the possibility of becoming “more obviously partisan,” Mr. Tomasky wrote.

Gore-y details

There has been some hubbub afoot: Could Al Gore be mulling a run for president in 2004? Perhaps. But there are many who wish he would give it a rest.

According to an online poll (www.vote.com) of some 6,000 respondents released yesterday, 80 percent said Mr. Gore should not attempt another try at the White House.

“Al Gore had his shot and he lost. Don’t beat a dead horse and stay out of the 2004 race,” suggested the naysayers.

There’s the rub

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean may be garnering the support of massage therapists in his bid for the White House.

“Do we have any Dean fans here who are massage therapists? I would love to see a ‘Massage Therapists for Dean’ group who would be willing to volunteer their services to HQ. Sounds like Kate could use one right about now,” wrote one visitor to Mr. Dean’s Web site (www.deanforamerica.com) yesterday.

Aforementioned Dean campaign manager Kate O’Connor was, perhaps, excited.

“We’re back in Vermont for the day,” she had messaged supporters. “We’re in the office reintroducing ourselves to the people we work with!! And it sure is exciting here in the HQ!! Someone put a Coke can in the trash — and boy, was that a mistake! The Gov. noticed and reminded us that everything must be recycled!”

Time flies

The forthcoming Supreme Court battle over the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law hit an ominous speed bump yesterday when the justices ordered several major players to sit quietly on the bench during next month’s hearing.

They include lawyers Charles J. Cooper for the National Rifle Association and William J. Olson, representing Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, who were among four petitioners denied argument time during the four-hour hearing set for Sept. 8.

Only Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law & Justice, was able to carve 10 minutes from the two-hour block that lawyer Kenneth W. Starr sought to reserve for a coalition of seven petitioner groups. The high court otherwise granted Mr. Starr’s request for time and refused all others.

Mr. Sekulow seeks to defend his lower-court victory in overturning a ban on donations by minors.

“One of the most fundamental rights of Americans is to participate in the electoral process,” he said after winning the brief chance to argue his position. “We’re hopeful that the high court will ultimately uphold the constitutional rights of all Americans, including minors.”

Guru Dennis

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich met with his Hollywood following last weekend at a party hosted by actors James Cromwell and Hector Elizondo.

The Ohio Democrat and presidential hopeful told his audience, “We are a moment in human history where America is separating itself from the world. We must learn to look at the world holistically.”

It might have been a little too much even for Tinseltown.

“The first thing we gotta do with Dennis Kucinich is get him to stop using the word ‘holistic.’ We don’t want people to think he’s Jerry Brown,” actor Michael Gross told actress Morgan Fairchild, according to the Los Angeles TImes yesterday.

Ah-nold reconsiders

Arnold Schwarzenegger has backed off making a big announcement on late-night TV, possibly a reaction to criticism that he was mixing politics and showbiz a little too closely.

“Arnold will make a statement concerning his decision whether to run in the California recall election on Wednesday, August 6th. Schwarzenegger’s announcement will be followed with an appearance on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,’ where he will elaborate on his decision,” his office said in a statement released yesterday.

Should he run, the actor would join as many as 200 other candidates in the California race to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, should he be recalled.

Robinson emerges

North Carolinian Vernon Robinson hopes his conservatism will make him the first black Republican congressman since J.C. Watts Jr., the Oklahoma lawmaker who retired in January, Fox News reports.

“We can stop homosexual activists and racial agitators,” Mr. Robinson said. He also supports a strong national defense, enforcement of immigration laws, traditional family values and abolition of racial quotas.

Mr. Robinson is running second to Jay Helvey in a nine-way race for the Republican nomination. The winner will vie for the seat now occupied by Republican Rep. Richard Burr, who is running for the Senate seat currently held by Democratic presidential aspirant Sen. John Edwards.

As a second-term city council member in Winston-Salem, Mr. Robinson is North Carolina’s first black Republican to be re-elected to public office, winning 70 percent of the white vote and 20 percent of the black vote.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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