- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Playing ‘duopoly

Despite overwhelming odds against his candidacy, consumer advocate Ralph Nader has decided once again to run for the presidency, this time as an independent. He argues that the policies and beliefs of Democrats and Republicans are far too similar — “a two-party duopoly.”

Of course, the closest Mr. Nader has ever come to being picked as president was during the contested 2000 election.

On that now-historic December day outside the U.S. Supreme Court, or so this columnist observed, a lone man stood silently yet directly between warring sides for Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, clutching his homemade sign: “Give it to Nader.”

Radlibs and Radcons

“Radcons” is the nickname Clinton Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich gives “radical conservatives who have taken over the public agenda.”

“There is no ‘vast right-wing conspiracy,’” Mr. Reich will acknowledge in his upcoming book, “Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America.”

Rather, Radcons “have risen by means of a highly efficient, self-reinforcement system designed to shape public opinion and politics.”

Mr. Reich obviously mailed his publisher his book manuscript before liberals in recent days unleashed their own “public agenda” designed to shape opinion and politics, not the least being legalized same-sex “marriages.”

Henceforth, “Radlibs.”

College effort

Republicans in South Carolina weren’t at all proud when the state’s Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, reported — by fax machine — that she had raised more money than each of the four Republican candidates who filed fund-raising reports with the Federal Election Commission.

The state educator boasted that she drew in a full $100,000 more than her closest Republican opponent, South Carolina Rep. Jim DeMint, becoming “one of only three Democratic Senate challengers in the nation to out-raise a sitting member of the U.S. Congress.”

And how did Republicans respond?

By examining a telephone number Mrs. Tenenbaum’s campaign used to submit the FEC report — a publicly owned fax machine, it turns out, belonging to the University of South Carolina “Dean’s Office.”

That perhaps isn’t surprising. When not busy as dean of USC’s school of business, Joel A. Smith III is Mrs. Tenenbaum’s campaign treasurer. Besides that, Mrs. Tenenbaum is an ex-officio member of USC’s board of trustees.

Given the apparent conflict of interest, USC President Andrew Sorenson has been asked to investigate.

The race is an important one for both political parties, particularly Democrats, who already are outnumbered in the Senate — not to mention South Carolina. The state’s governor, Mark Sanford, and other senator, Lindsey Graham, are both Republicans, as are four of the state’s six congressmen.

The seat is being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, first elected to the body in 1966. Ironically, despite the amount of time he served in the Senate — nearly 40 years when he retires in January 2005 — Mr. Hollings only became his state’s senior senator after the late Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond retired two years ago.

That means Mr. Graham will soon become his state’s senior senator, despite having served only two years in office.

Official rats

Federal bureaucrats are complaining that “an army of rats” has invaded a U.S. government office complex in revitalized Silver Spring.

“For the last two months, rats have chewed through electrical cables, phone cords, speaker wires, LAN cables — even phone books,” says one Department of Commerce insider. “The only safe place for [official correspondence] are metal filing cabinets.”

Uncle Sam in recent years has also dealt with “Pentagon pests” — hundreds of “rats that roam the basement” of the Pentagon — and when President Clinton occupied the White House, rodent experts had to be called in to “assess the [unpleasant] rat situation.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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