- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Mineta's future
"Administration officials are bracing for the resignation of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the 71-year-old former Clinton Cabinet member who suffers from painful back ailments," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Insiders say that House Secretary Mel Martinez, the only Cabinet Hispanic, is being touted as Mineta's replacement."
Indiana candidate
Former national Democratic Party Chairman Joe Andrew says he will enter the race to become Indiana's next governor.
Mr. Andrew, 42, joins state Sen. Vi Simpson of Bloomington in a primary race that was thrown into confusion in December, when Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan unexpectedly dropped his campaign, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Kernan had been the party's presumptive nominee to replace Democratic Gov. Frank L. O'Bannon, who is barred by term limits from running again next year.
Mr. Andrew is seeking elected office for the first time. He was the Indiana Democratic chairman from 1995 until 1999, then served as national chairman until early 2001. He has worked as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., since then, but said he will soon move back to Indiana.
"My job is to be the next governor of the state of Indiana," Mr. Andrew told the Indianapolis Star for a story yesterday. "My job is to create as many jobs as I can for the state of Indiana."
Democrats have held the office since 1989.
Republicans in the 2004 race include former U.S. Rep. David McIntosh, the party's nominee in 2000; state Sens. Luke Kenley of Noblesville and Murray Clark of Indianapolis; conservative activist Eric Miller; and Petersburg Mayor Randy Harris.
Boehlert's challenger
"As chairman of the House Science Committee, U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, New York Republican, may be the most influential member of his state's congressional delegation. But that is not enough to stop at least one member of his own party from trying to unseat him in 2004," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"Dr. David Walrath, a surgeon and Cayuga County, N.Y., legislator, is making another run against the multiterm incumbent. In 2002, Walrath was a last-minute entry into the primary and, despite being outspent better than 10-1, came within 2,700 votes of beating him thanks to the support of the New York State Conservative Party, the National Rifle Association and the Cayuga County Republican organization," the wire service noted.
"Boehlert, who has served in Congress for more than 20 years, has a lifetime rating of just 36 out of 100 from the American Conservative Union and is considered by many to be the last vestige of liberal 'Rockefeller' Republicanism in the New York congressional delegation."
Groundhog Day
"There was never any question, as the Senate Judiciary Committee met Thursday morning, that Miguel Estrada would win approval to a place on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,. The Republicans' new 10-to-nine majority took care of that. But there was a question of how solid Democratic opposition to Estrada would be," Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"And the answer was: very solid. Confounding some GOP expectations, Democrats kept a united front on Estrada, voting unanimously against him and sending a message that they will exercise similar discipline in the future," Mr. York said.
"It's not that Estrada's opponents pointed to anything in his record that they said disqualified him from the court. Rather, they relied on two key (and somewhat contradictory) arguments in an attempt to show he did not deserve the committee's support. The first was that Estrada is an ultra-conservative ideologue. The second was that the committee did not know enough about him. …
"For Republicans, the meeting had a Groundhog Day quality to it. First, they had to deal with a Democratic attack on Estrada that they thought they had thoroughly rebutted four months ago. Then, they had to deal with another Democratic attack on Estrada that they thought they had thoroughly rebutted four months ago."
A national bellwether
"Anyone notice how a stunning repudiation of a pro-tax ballot initiative in Oregon Tuesday became a non-story literally overnight?" the Wall Street Journal asks.
"Up to the morning of the vote on Measure 28 which asked for a hike in income taxes to stave off $310 million in budget cuts some polls showed the measure passing and the pundit class was busy heralding Oregon as a national bellwether," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"But when Oregon's voters turned out in record numbers to kill Measure 28 by a hefty 54-46 percent margin … suddenly it became a local story. The rejection of Measure 28 is all the more remarkable in that it came despite a well-funded, highly organized pro-tax campaign that enjoyed both the support of the state's public employees unions and their echo chamber in the press."
Nervous Democrats
Some Democrats are growing nervous as they watch their Senate leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, try to undermine President Bush's position on Iraq, Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, told Mr. Barnes: "I like Tom and he's in a tough position here. The base of the Democratic Party is in profound disagreement with the rest of the country on this issue. And I guess for Tom not to recognize that would be political suicide."
Mr. Bayh added: "I don't understand those" such as Mr. Daschle "who want to wait until the threat [from Iraq] is imminent. Do we wait until the missiles are launched, until the smallpox is in the country? The consequences of error could be catastrophic."
When the fun begins
"Polling often shapes reality in American politics but there are times when reality shapes polling. This is one of them," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.
"The United States and Britain will invade Iraq within the next month or so. We will win and, likely, win quickly and relatively easily. And then the fun will start," Mr. Morris said.
"Day after day, week after week, we will be gorged with revelations from Iraq. Our troops will find chemical and biological weapons caches, scientists who will testify to Iraq's effort to get the bomb, labs brimming with fiendish new inventions ordered by the twisted, perverted mind of Saddam Hussein. It will be like it was in February, March and April of 1945 as U.S. and British troops, in their mad dash across Germany, stumbled on concentration camps with their skeletal survivors.
"The evidence of why the war was justified will not be in the books of the arms inspectors, but in the evidence that will be plainly apparent once the war is won.
"Then, as this data becomes publicly available, those who opposed the war will pay a steep political price. They will have lots of explaining to do. But the explanations will never satisfy a public furious, in retrospect, at their folly."
War gains support
Support for a war against Iraq has risen to its highest level since September, according to a poll taken after President Bush's State of the Union speech and released yesterday.
The ABC News-Washington Post survey showed that 66 percent of Americans favor military action against Iraq, up from 57 percent two weeks ago.
The survey shows a reversal in the erosion of public support for the use of force against Baghdad and a rise in Mr. Bush's overall approval rating.
More than six in 10 of those surveyed also approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, up from about half two weeks ago.
Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating was 62 percent, up slightly from mid-January.

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