- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2003

Liberal civility

One speaker at last week’s liberal “Take Back America” Conference in Washington described the followers of conservative-dominated radio programs as “drunks,” Marc Morano reports at CNSNews.com.

The three-day conference, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future, aimed to push the Democratic Party farther to the left.

Jeff Faux, distinguished fellow at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, lashed out at the culture of talk radio during a panel discussion titled “Shrubbed: The Radical Project of George Bush.”

“I turn on the radio, and I hear these talk shows with right-wing drunks calling in, and I ask myself, where are our drunks?” Mr. Faux said. But, he added: “The advantage of being a progressive is that you don’t have to get drunk to make your speech.”

Neck and neck

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean lead the field among Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire, according to the latest poll of likely voters in the state.

Mr. Kerry was at 25 percent while Mr. Dean was at 22 percent in the Zogby poll released yesterday.

The Massachusetts senator has been slightly ahead of Mr. Dean in recent polls, while they were statistically tied in polls a few months ago.

The survey of 600 likely voters taken June 4-7 has an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points. That means Mr. Kerry and Mr. Dean are statistically tied for the lead, the Associated Press reports.

About one-third of those surveyed said they are not familiar with Mr. Dean, while one in 10 said that about Mr. Kerry.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was at 10 percent, while Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri was at 7 percent.

Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio were at 2 percent. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York were all at 1 percent or less.

About one-fourth of the voters polled, 27 percent, said they are undecided.

New Hampshire will hold the nation’s first presidential primary in late January, about a week after Iowa’s leadoff caucuses.

Piling on

President Bush’s credibility in foreign policy has been undermined by questions about how the government used intelligence on Iraq before the war, four Democratic presidential candidates said yesterday.

The four were in Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s hometown of Mount Pleasant for the governor’s annual family picnic, mingling with hundreds of activists in a state where party caucuses next January launch the presidential nominating season, the Associated Press reports.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who supported military action in Iraq, questioned whether intelligence agencies “had it right or whether the administration was overstating the case” that Iraq had banned weapons.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean revived a Watergate-era phrase to raise questions about whether Mr. Bush withheld information from Congress: “The question now is going to become, ‘What did the president know, and when did he know it?’”

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Mr. Bush’s handling of the issue was fraudulent and demanded a full explanation of reports that some intelligence workers worried that data they were reporting was misused.

“They took this country into a war that we did not have to go into,” said Mr. Kucinich. “They led this country into a war that was unnecessary.”

Florida Sen. Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the first to get into the intelligence fray, accused Mr. Bush of “a pattern of deception and deceit of the American people.”

In Washington, still another Democratic hopeful, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, criticized such talk. “You can’t bring politics into this. And I felt that from the beginning, and I continue to feel that,” Mr. Gephardt said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Iraq and crack

The war in Iraq “has blown up our ability to fight terrorism” by shifting focus from pursuit of anti-American groups and diverting resources that could be better used at home, Democratic presidential hopeful Carol Moseley Braun said yesterday.

“We have just, if you will, blown up our ability to fight terrorism in the real sense, because we have gone into Iraq,” the former Illinois senator said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And now we’re going to be spending billions and billions and billions of dollars to rebuild Baghdad when our cities are crumbling, when our schools are falling apart, when the American people are terrified.”

Asked whether she believed that Mr. Bush had picked a fight with Saddam Hussein, Mrs. Moseley Braun offered this analogy: “If there’s a crack house down the street from you, and in it are the murderers who killed your brother and your sister-in-law, do you blow up the crack house, or do you go after the murderers?”

She said the war was a distraction from the effort to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks of September 11.

Mayors complain

Frustrated and angry over delays, a coalition of the nation’s mayors asked federal officials yesterday to bypass state governments and give them the money they need to beef up homeland security, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m not asking for a handout; I’m asking for a partnership,” Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson told Undersecretary of Homeland Security Michael Brown at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Denver.

Mr. Brown said the federal government does not want to break up partnerships it has forged over the years with state governments through agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which handles natural disasters.

However, he said Congress recently ordered 80 percent of the funding for homeland security projects to go to first responders in cities and counties, and limited to 20 percent the amount state governments can keep.

Mayors had complained that states were skimming federal money for prevention, while they need it to equip and train police and firefighters who treat casualties.

Mr. Abramson said that in the first round of homeland security funding, Kentucky got $9 million and only $200,000 went to his city.

“We have 20 percent of the state’s population and yet we got just 2 percent of the money. You don’t need to tell me that’s wrong,” Mr. Abramson told his fellow mayors Saturday.

Bush’s little brother

“So much for the rumors that Karl Rove is king in the Bush White House,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Traveling on Air Force One after his historic Middle East peace meeting in Jordan, President Bush invited reporters to the front of the jet to talk about his successes. While story-telling, he heard Rove barking and popped off. ‘Karl,’ said Bush, ‘I can hear every word you’re saying.’

“A press pool report said Bush spoke ‘much as one might speak to an unruly younger brother.’”

‘Real heroes’

Former first lady Barbara Bush received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address at the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Even before you hang out your shingles, you are real heroes in my mind,” she told the graduates at Saturday’s ceremony in Portland, Maine.

Mrs. Bush received an honorary doctor of humane letter from the college, which specializes in teaching primary-care physicians, the Associated Press reports.

The medical college, which graduated 104 osteopathic physicians Saturday, is Maine’s only medical school and the only osteopathic medical school in New England.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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