- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Intolerance of ambiguity

Conservatives are practically psychotic — at least according to an academic study funded by $1.2 million in federal money from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science foundation.

“Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition” does not differentiate among Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, former President Ronald Reagan and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

“One is justified in referring to Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan, and Limbaugh as right-wing conservatives,” wrote the four author/professors from Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland.

“Not because they share an opposition to ‘big government’ or a mythical, romanticized view of Aryan purity — they did not share these specific attitudes — but because they all preached a return to an idealized past and favored or condoned inequality in some form,” they continued.

The study claimed conservatives are “significantly associated with mental rigidity and closed-mindedness, increased dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, decreased cognitive complexity, decreased openness to experience, uncertainty avoidance, personal needs for order and structure, need for cognitive closure, lowered self-esteem; fear, anger, and aggression; pessimism, disgust, and contempt.”

It’s outrageous, said one lawmaker who was part of a Republican investigation of the study.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be required to pay for these things,” Rep. Tom Feeney, Florida Republican, told National Review. “When you are basically confiscating money from taxpayers to fund left-wing rhetoric and dress it up as scientific study, I think you have a real problem with credibility.”

But no signet ring

Uh-oh, look out. The Hill’s Angels are on the prowl for new members. The grass-roots support group for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, believes the vast conspiracy of yore is out to get the former first lady.

“While Hillary is fighting for the values and policies we care about, the right wing is waging a personal attack against her,” the group notes at its Web site, www.friendsofhillary.com. “They’ve already launched their campaign to defeat Hillary in 2006, using the same old politics of personal destruction, sending out hate-filled mail charging she is ‘anti-woman, anti-child, anti-family.’”

They want new members, though — and some money, too.

For $25, one gets an official membership card and a “Living History” bookmark. A $75 contribution gets the card and a “Living History” mug, while $250 brings the card and a “Living History” pen. For $500, the lucky contributor gets the mug, pen, bookmark, “silver-toned” bookmark and a “personally inscribed” copy of the book.

Journalist jive

Ever wonder why news coverage of the war in Iraq is consistently pessimistic and critical? So does the Media Research Center, which took an online poll on the question last week. Here’s what they found:

Almost two-thirds of the respondents — 64 percent — felt “a perceived lack of progress will hurt the president politically.” In addition, 22 percent said “the national media think every war is Vietnam.”

Finally, 13 percent said: “It’s no worse than usual. The media always emphasize bad news.”

Reality check

Jim Snyder, a conservative Republican running for Congress in North Carolina, has a message for all Tarheels in a TV spot that starts airing across the state today.

“Like you, I’m offended that the Democratic presidential candidates and the liberal media have the nerve to denigrate the great achievements of President Bush,” Mr. Snyder says on camera. “Well, just imagine if Al Gore was president.”

He adds, “I’m proud President Bush has the courage to defend freedom, democracy and American values.”

Gray matter

“Whether you call it fraying, floundering or in free fall — the fact is, Democratic ‘unity’ behind Gov. Gray Davis is anything but united,” the San Francisco Chronicle noted yesterday.

Democrats have some clear messages for the beleaguered California governor, who is facing a statewide recall vote Oct. 7. The party got gutsy during a “unity” meeting between San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and top Democratic political consultants staged last week.

“Well, surprisingly, nobody killed each other,” observed one attendee.

Their advice for Mr. Gray:

“His past tactic of attacking opponents will probably turn off more voters than it will turn on. He needs to knock it off with ‘pandering’ vote-getting stunts, like his sudden agreement to sign a bill letting illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses — a move seen by many as an attempt to shore up his faltering Latino base.”

And last but not least? He needs to do his job, the group decided.

“Believe it or not,” one person in attendance told the Chronicle, “it was agreed that the best thing Gray could do while under siege is act like a governor.”

Act II, Scene 3

Back in Los Angeles, meanwhile, the recall situation “cements California’s reputation as the political loony bin of the nation,” the Los Angeles Times said yesterday.

More than 200 assorted Californians have filed preliminary papers to run for the office — it takes 65 signatures and a $3,500 fee. Interested parties include filmmakers, stand-up comedians, assorted soccer moms, at least one teenager and Georgy Russell, a 26-year-old Democrat from the Bay Area who is financing her campaign by selling “Georgy for Governor” thong underwear.

“All of these questions, many of them ridiculous, add up to one conclusion about the recall election. It shouldn’t be happening,” the Times stated.

“California as national laughingstock is a small thing. California as a political and economic basket case is not. Wall Street analysts are watching the recall as closely as the comedians. When the laughs are over, Californians will have to live with the outcome. The more decisively the recall itself is rejected the better.”

Tussle in Des Moines

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont led in an Iowa poll measuring support in the state with the nation’s leadoff precinct caucuses in January.

The Des Moines Register survey, released yesterday, found Mr. Dean with the support of 23 percent of the respondents; Mr. Gephardt snagged 21 percent.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts had the backing of 14 percent, while Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was the first choice of 10 percent. The poll of 402 registered voters was taken July 22-29.

Mess with Texas

Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, meanwhile, is taking his anger with George W. Bush to the president’s home state. His campaign committee, Dean For America, will begin airing a campaign commercial in Austin today.

Mr. Dean tells Texans, “I want to change George Bush’s reckless foreign policy, stand up for affordable health care, and create new jobs. Has anybody really stood up against George Bush and his policies? Don’t you think it’s time somebody did?”

Though Austin is a liberal stronghold, the Dean challenge is also about the money.

Mr. Dean is providing both his toll-free phone number and Web site address, hoping to build on $508,640 in small donations raised over the Internet last week.

He is the only Democrat advertising on TV so early in the game. Another spot that ran earlier this summer in Iowa set his campaign back $300,000.

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

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