- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Divided they stand

“We’re living in the age of the liberal copycat,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

Al Franken tries to create a liberal version of Rush. Al Gore announced his TV network [Monday]. Many Democrats have tried to create a liberal Heritage Foundation,” Mr. Brooks said.

“The theory is that liberals must create their own version of the conservative pyramid. Conservatives have formed their foundations, think tanks and media outlets into a ruthlessly efficient message machine. Liberals, on the other hand, have been losing because they are too fractious, too nuanced and, well, too freethinking.

“Much as I admire my friends on the left for ingeniously explaining their recent defeats without really considering the possibility that maybe the substance of their ideas is the problem, I have to say that this explanation for conservative success and liberal failure is at odds with reality.

“Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they’ve found one faction to agree with.”

A liberal fable

“Among the many valuable conclusions of the Robb-Silberman report on U.S. intelligence, the most important is probably this: Policy-makers need to be more assertive, not less,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“To put it another way, Vice President Dick Cheney should have asked more questions of the CIA during the run-up to war in Iraq, not fewer,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“We realize this ruins the Aesop’s fable that has developed about Iraq, and about the intelligence process more broadly. That story holds that CIA analysts are the final arbiters of intelligence truth, and that elected leaders must accept what they conclude as holy writ or else they will be ‘politicizing’ intelligence.

“Regarding Iraq, this fable holds that the problem was that Mr. Cheney and the Pentagon created a separate intelligence ‘stovepipe’ that ignored CIA professionals, or, even worse, pounded them into concluding against all evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

“The Robb-Silberman panel does the enormous service of exposing all of this as both false regarding Iraq, and dangerous if it colors the future. The problem in Iraq wasn’t some rogue Pentagon intelligence operation that ran roughshod over the CIA and DIA. Far from it, the problem was a ‘climate of conformity’ across the entire intelligence community that firmly believed that Saddam still had WMD. Instead of disagreement, there was almost no internal intelligence debate at all. Everybody believed Saddam had WMD.”

The Journal added: “These conclusions are all terribly inconvenient to those antiwar critics who are still promoting the Dick Cheney-as-Rasputin fable of Iraq. And, incredibly, their response has been to imply that the Robb-Silberman panel is also in on this Big Con. A few open-minded liberals are even suggesting that no one should bother to read the report, which we suppose makes it easier to keep believing in the Grassy Knoll.”

Bredesen’s advice

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is raising eyebrows by urging Democrats to look beyond New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2008 White House race.

The popular governor and potential dark-horse presidential candidate said people want “something different” and that voters are “kind of dissatisfied” with all current Democratic 2008 prospects, according to the London Sunday Times.

“People love [Mrs. Clinton] or they hate her, and I don’t know in the end how all that plays out. But I sure hope there are other people who would step forward,” Mr. Bredesen said in an interview that underscores concerns among party centrists that Mrs. Clinton would have trouble appealing to rural and Southern voters, the New York Post said yesterday.

Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker didn’t dispute the quotes, but said they were “taken out of context,” adding that the interview was about the Democratic Party’s future. “He wasn’t out to say anything bad about Senator Clinton,” she said.

Yucca showdown

The planned nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada won’t be built unless the Energy Department is confident about the supporting science after investigating an e-mail that showed workers discussing fabricating data, an official said yesterday.

Under angry questioning from Nevada lawmakers, Theodore Garrish, deputy director of the Yucca program, said the department was preparing to apply for a license to run the dump, but that “we have not made a final decision yet as to when or whether to file those documents, and some of that will be based on this investigation.”

“I can assure you we will not go forward unless we can have the feeling ourselves first that this repository will be safe,” Mr. Garrish said.

Nevadans have seized on the e-mail as the latest reason to oppose the dump, 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

Officials from Gov. Kenny Guinn on down expressed outrage yesterday during a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing.

Real estate wanted

The emergency supplemental-appropriations bill the Senate is expected to take up today includes a quarter-billion dollars to build a headquarters for the nation’s new intelligence chief. Where that headquarters will be, however, is still uncertain, United Press International reports.

The $82 billion supplemental request, sent to Congress last month, says the $250.3 million requested for the Intelligence Community Management Account will be used for a new facility to house the office of the director of national intelligence, the “expanded National Counterterrorism Center, and other intelligence community elements.”

John D. Negroponte, tapped by the president to be the intelligence chief, will begin work at offices in the White House compound. A transition team of more than 20 staff members had begun work in the temporary offices.

Florida candidate

Hillsborough County, Fla., Commissioner Kathy Castor said she will run for the congressional seat Democratic Rep. Jim Davis is giving up to run for governor.

The candidate, more than two years into her four-year term as commissioner, said she was not abandoning her constituents by entering the congressional race. “I’m going to focus on doing my job as a commissioner,” she told the St. Petersburg Times.

A lawyer and the daughter of Betty Castor, the Democrats’ unsuccessful nominee for U.S. Senate in 2004, Miss Castor said she will campaign for Congress while continuing to serve on the commission. She is considered an early favorite against the other two announced Democrats in the race, state Sen. Les Miller Jr. and lawyer Scott Farrell.

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

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