- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Sharpton's line
Democratic presidential candidates who tone down their opposition to President Bush's policy in Iraq while the United States is at war "don't deserve to run for president," the Rev. Al Sharpton said yesterday.
"Don't be too cowardly to speak now," said Mr. Sharpton, a candidate himself, before an audience of activists from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, at their legislative conference blocks away from the Capitol.
The war in Iraq has become the major dividing line for Democratic presidential candidates, with about half of them having expressed support to some degree, and the rest strenuously opposing the president's policy.
In the days since fighting began, some anti-war Democrats said they would tone down their remarks while continuing to oppose the policy itself. Still, they and most other Democrats have expressed their support for the troops now that war has begun.
And Mr. Sharpton joined them, saying that many of the troops are black.
"No one loves the troops and supports the troops more than us, because the troops are our brothers and sisters," Mr. Sharpton told the largely black audience. "We loved the troops before they left home."
But Mr. Sharpton said he will follow the tradition of Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy and Martin Luther King in continuing to attack the policy that sent the troops to fight.
"We cannot allow the precious blood of Americans to be used in an unwise, unnecessary battle," Mr. Sharpton said.
Georgia possibility
"Senate Democrats think they've found the ideal candidate to test just how badly the racially tinged Trent Lott affair hurt Republicans," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"It's Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a law-and-order African-American who is considering a run for the seat opened by the retirement of Sen. Zell Miller," Mr. Bedard said.
"'We're high on him,' says a top Senate aide. The popular Baker just met with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and others who offered to help in any bid."
Drafting Gore
A group seeking to draft Al Gore for president in 2004 says a Zogby poll proves that the former vice president should get back into the Democratic race.
The Draft Gore 2004 Committee commissioned Zogby International to include Mr. Gore in its regular lineup of potential Democratic challengers to President Bush.
"Despite his three-month absence from national politics, Gore polled only 9 points behind Bush (42 percent to 51 percent). The other Democrats lagged 12 to 33 points behind," the group said yesterday in a prepared statement.
The survey of 1,129 likely voters was conducted March 14-16.
The committee to draft Mr. Gore (online at www.DraftGore.com) was formed in December, the day after Mr. Gore announced that he would not seek the 2004 nomination.
Trailing Mr. Gore in the hypothetical matchup with Mr. Bush were New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at 39 percent, Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt at 38 percent, Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman at 38 percent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry at 36 percent, and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 32 percent.
Bush haters
"They hated Richard Nixon, and no wonder. It was Nixon who sent Alger Hiss to jail, and Nixon who waged the Vietnam War after the Democrats gave up," David Frum writes in the Los Angeles Times.
"They hated Ronald Reagan, and for good reason. In the 1970s, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party came closer to unfettered power than at any times since the 1930s until that … actor snatched it all away," Mr. Frum said.
"They hated Newt Gingrich too, and once more, no surprise. It was Gingrich who thwarted Hillarycare, Gingrich who broke the Democratic hold on Capitol Hill.
"Now the Democrats hate George W. Bush and that makes no sense at all," said Mr. Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush.
"Has there ever been a president who worked harder than Bush to conciliate and befriend his opponents? He appointed a Democrat, Norman Mineta, to his Cabinet, and put another Democrat, John DiIulio, in charge of his signature faith-based initiative. He signed a bill that affixed Robert Kennedy's name to the Justice Department building; renominated Clinton judges whose nominations had lapsed when President Clinton's term ended; compromised his education bill to accommodate Democratic ideas; and rarely, if ever, criticized any Democratic officeholder.
"Yet all this symbolic and substantive bipartisanship has done Bush no good."
Blagojevich's woes
Rod R. Blagojevich won the Illinois governor's office by running as the opposite of the man he replaced, George Ryan a political wheeler-dealer tainted by a corruption scandal that helped end 26 years of Republican governors.
But some are saying the youthful-looking Mr. Blagojevich could learn a few things from the savvy ex-governor, especially after Mr. Blagojevich's slow response to the state's $5 billion budget deficit, struggle to name his Cabinet and quarrels with legislators, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Blagojevich, 46, is the first Democrat to win the governor's office in Illinois since 1972. His election had raised Democrats' hopes and expectations.
Now, more than two months into his term, Mr. Blagojevich, of Chicago, still has 10 vacancies in his Cabinet, far more than his recent predecessors.
His choice to run the state's prison system, Ernesto Velasco, resigned March 14 amid reports that Cook County Jail guards systematically beat inmates while Mr. Velasco ran the jail.
Confirmation of Mr. Blagojevich's labor director, Michael Fenger, was postponed after it was revealed Mr. Fenger pleaded guilty to slashing someone's tires during a 1997 labor dispute.
Some black Chicago Democrats complained Mr. Blagojevich has ignored their suggestions. And Mr. Blagojevich has delayed announcing an agriculture director after complaints that his apparent choice once endorsed racial profiling by police.
Because of the fiscal crisis, Mr. Blagojevich got permission from lawmakers for a two-month delay in presenting his proposal for a new state budget. But he is leaving lawmakers in the dark until the April 9 deadline.
Eyes on the prize
"So far so good," Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.
"The war has begun, and the world hasn't ended (alarmists, pessimists and prophets on left and right, please note). Saddam Hussein may be hurt or dead. And so, on to Baghdad," Mrs. Noonan said.
"An old song from the American civil rights is on my mind and seems on point. It's about how far the movement had come and would go as long as all involved remained focused, in spite of setbacks, on the new day that was coming. 'Keep your eyes on the prize, oh Lord, oh Lord,' went the refrain.
"That's what the coming week is about. As we become, inevitably, bogged down and fogged down by the dailyness and messiness of war, we should keep our eyes on the prize. One senses it is going to be bigger than we think.
"We are about to startle and reorder the world. We are going to win this thing, and in the winning of it, we are going to reinspire civilized people across the globe. We're going to give the world a lift."
A mighty force
Charles Johnson, writing at his Web log (www.littlegreenfootballs.com), noted that France, Germany and Belgium are talking about combining their armed forces.
"This may lead to the creation of the mightiest force for appeasement and capitulation the world has ever known," Mr. Johnson said.

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