- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Opening shots
The political war to get President Bush's judicial nominees confirmed begins at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow, according to conservative activist Kay Daly.
That's when the Senate is scheduled to consider Miguel Estrada, the first Hispanic nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Ralph Neas, if you are out there and you want to filibuster Miguel Estrada, bring it on," said Mrs. Daly, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary and recipient of the Ronald Reagan Award at the 30th annual Conservative Political Action Conference last week.
Mr. Neas, president of People for the American Way, has called Mr. Estrada "the Hispanic Clarence Thomas."
In accepting the award from American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene, Mrs. Daly urged the nearly 4,000 activists attending the conference to "write, call, e-mail or send carrier pigeons to their senators requesting that they do the right thing and vote to confirm Miguel Estrada."
Several liberal organizations have promised a bare-knuckles brawl to defeat the Estrada nomination. New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer has threatened a filibuster.
Mr. Keene described Mrs. Daly, five months pregnant with her second child, as a "modern-day Phyllis Schlafly," reports Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times.
Mrs. Schlafly, who led the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment, was honored by CPAC on the 20th anniversary of the amendment's defeat.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican and a conservative icon, brought a Friday CPAC banquet audience to its feet repeatedly in a keynote address after receiving the John M. Ashbrook Award.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, long a hero to movement conservatives, won the Defender of Freedom Award, an original document signed by George Washington.
On Saturday, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who leads the immigration caucus and has had run-ins with the White House over the issue, received the Courage Under Fire Award.
Wayne LaPierre, executive director of the National Rifle Association, accepted the Defender of the Constitution Award on behalf of 92,000 Americans who sent money to the NRA to wage the court fight against the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation.
Joel Mowbray of National Review Online received won the Conservative Journalism Award.
Gut instinct
Peggy Noonan, one of a group of conservative journalists who met with President Bush on the day of his State of the Union Address last week, says she "came away with a sense that Mr. Bush has grown comfortable and confident in the presidency, in part perhaps due to a silent weighing that was going on inside him."
Mrs. Noonan, writing at www.OpinionJournal.com, explained: "I had the hunch that Mr. Bush, who had succeeded as a Texas governor in part by relying on his gut sense of people, events, meaning, went into the White House wondering if his gut would be up to the job. If it would give him the guidance it had given in Texas, if it was up to the demands of a presidency.
"Then September 11 came, and he was thrown back onto his inner resources. He had to use his gut to make big, quick decisions. The one time he didn't follow his gut when he didn't return immediately to the White House after the attacks he made a big mistake. So he went with his gut thereafter, and in the next 12 months, he concluded his gut was up to the challenge. And so he is now more comfortable and commanding because he can use as a primary tool something he really has, as opposed to something he needs to develop."
McConnell in hospital
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, underwent triple-bypass heart surgery yesterday and was expected to make a full recovery, his office said in a statement.
The surgery was performed at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.
"It was uneventful and totally satisfactorily performed," Dr. Alan Speir, who performed the operation and is the hospital's clinical chief of cardiothoracic surgery, said in a statement. "It is anticipated that his postoperative course will be uncomplicated and the prognosis for full and unrestricted recovery is excellent."
The majority whip learned he had arterial blockages on Friday after undergoing a cardiac cauterization following a routine cardiovascular screening, the Associated Press reports. He decided to have the surgery right away after consulting with Dr. Speir and Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who also is a heart surgeon. Mr. McConnell wanted to begin the recovery process as soon as possible, the statement said.
Mr. McConnell, 60, is married to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, who was present with him in recovery.
He is the second senator to undergo heart surgery in a week. On Friday, Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, underwent surgery to replace a heart valve. Mr. Graham, 66, is waiting until he recovers to decide whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
Weighty issue
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue yesterday challenged state employees to join him in a weight-loss program.
"The governor has said for a long time the state needs to go … on a financial diet, but it also needs a healthy diet," Perdue spokesman Erin O'Brien said. "High health care costs are part of what's driving the state budget [shortfall]."
The 56-year-old Mr. Perdue, a former high school and college football player who is 5-foot-11 and tips the scales at 220, wants to shed 20 pounds himself, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
February is American Heart Month, and the newly elected Republican chief executive decided it was a good time to kick off "The Governor's Capitol Challenge: Fitness on Our Minds."
The governor will give the state's 103,000 employees a few days to decide whether they want to take his challenge, which he is also extending to department heads, state legislators, constitutional officers and Capitol reporters. Those who accept will receive a packet with an as-yet undisclosed diet plan and other details on Friday.
There will be weekly weigh-ins, but the weight of participants will be a state secret. Only their losses will be publicly touted and tallied, the governor's office said.
Bill's big adventure
Bill Clinton, who has criticized President Bush's tax cuts and foreign policy, apparently will broaden his attack to include so-called "global warming.
The former president plans to appear at a free Rolling Stones concert Thursday at Los Angeles' Staples Center, where he will make a speech from the stage about the importance of fighting global warming, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nonprofit group staging the gig.
The show was conceived as a way to put "a worldwide spotlight on global warming and the opportunities that exist right now to start fixing the problem," said Jon Coifman, spokesman for NRDC.
About 12,000 fans won tickets to the show in an Internet drawing last month, while others received passes through nationwide radio station giveaways, the Associated Press reports.
Wrong guy
Yesterday's column misidentified the author of a story in the Weekly Standard about Democrats growing nervous as their Senate leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, becomes more outspoken in his opposition to war in Iraq. The magazine article should have been credited to Stephen F. Hayes.
Minority report
The Washington Post offered up this headline in its Sunday Metro section: "Shuttle Tragedy Is Felt Especially Keenly by Members of the Region's Indian, Israeli, Black Communities."

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