- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Woe is us

“All of the media have pounced on the Bush administration’s desire to ‘cut’ spending on a few programs, focusing on how some small spending adjustments will hurt the poor, but none more so than CBS on Monday night,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Lee Cowan devoted a full story to how ‘the proposed cuts hit the heartland like a mountain of unwanted news, from the soy bean fields of Iowa … to large cities like Minneapolis, where block grant programs help the homeless and the hungry.’ Cowan, who failed to cite a single proposed budget number, showcased complaints from food bank and health-care workers and, led into a sound bite from the unlabeled Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by stressing how ‘critics charge the people these cuts hit the hardest tend to have the weakest political voice.’

“Not CBS nor any network story on Monday night pointed out how minimal the proposed cuts really are,” Mr. Baker said. “Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, observed on the group’s Web site: ‘The budget proposes to cut 150 programs, but the fine print shows that these cuts will only reduce 2006 spending by 0.8 percent.’” See: www.cato.org.

“The morning shows on Monday reflected how network journalists paint cuts as undesirable, referring to ‘severe cutbacks,’ ‘steep cuts’ and to how the budget will ‘slash spending.’”

The passion gap

“President Bush will succeed in his Social Security changes because he has skillfully drafted them in such a way that the only voters who are affected support his proposal — while the ones who oppose it won’t be affected by it,” New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.

“Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that support for private investment skews dramatically by age group. Those aged 18 to 29 back it by 65 percent to 22 percent. Thirtysomething voters support it by 63-28; those in their 40s, 59-30.

“But voters between the ages of 50 and 64 oppose the private-investment option by 49-41, and those over 65, by 63-27.

“So the only voters who oppose private investment are those whom the reforms won’t touch. Those for whom the changes are real, generally support them.” Mr. Morris said.

“So Bush has succeeded in anesthetizing the Social Security debate: His proposed changes will stir passion only in the breasts of ideologues of each stripe, but not in the voters most affected.

“Which means his program is likely to pass despite dire Democratic warnings.”

Party of the past

The day after the president’s State of the Union address, the Democratic congressional leaders “gathered at the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial to carp,” Joe Klein writes in Time magazine.

“How 70 years ago!” Mr. Klein said.

“‘Progressive’ Dems — and I use the term advisedly, since liberals seem more interested in preserving the past than in discovering the future — are right to admire Roosevelt. But the Roosevelt they worship is a bronze sculpture, frozen in time. The real F.D.R. was a gutsy innovator. The current Democrats resemble nothing so much as the Republicans during the 25 years after Roosevelt’s death — negative, defensive, intellectually feeble, a permanent minority.

“There are reasons to oppose this president — arrogance abroad, crony capitalism at home — but undifferentiated opposition is obtuse and most likely counterproductive. The Democrats’ current crudeness is a function of their desperation, and the imminent ratification of Howard Dean, the least charming presidential candidate in recent memory, as their party chairman only serves to punctuate the problem.”

Roemer’s lament

Former Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana, who this week ended his bid to become Democratic National Committee chairman, tells CNN’s Morning Grind column (www.cnn.com) that he fell short of his goal of transforming the party, but thinks it’s because he was talking to the wrong audience.

“The DNC race was not the forum to have these conversations,” he said. “I was the most conservative or moderate candidate; DNC members are more liberal. Their ideology is more in line with Governor [Howard] Dean’s politics than with mine, so it’s hard to have these conversations.”

Mostly, Mr. Roemer told the Grind’s John Mercurio, he fell victim to a “highly effective” strategy by abortion-rights activists, who “tried to make abortion the radioactive anvil that hung around my neck. … They threw two kitchen sinks at me.”

Justice priorities

The Justice Department’s top strategic goal is the prevention of terrorist attacks and the promotion of national security, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday in his first public statement as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer.

“The first priority of the Department of Justice is to protect the American people from acts of terrorism,” said Mr. Gonzales, whose department is scheduled to receive more than $535 million in President Bush’s proposed fiscal 2006 budget for increased counterterrorism efforts.

“Whether fighting the war on terror, combating the threat of drugs or vigorously enforcing the nation’s gun laws, the president’s budget gives the department the resources to continue protecting Americans and keeping our streets safe.”

Mr. Bush’s 2006 budget request for the department calls for $20.7 billion in spending, a 1 percent increase from fiscal 2005.

Mr. Gonzales said the department’s newest strategic plan contains four mission-focused goals.

The plan calls for the prevention of terrorist attacks and the promotion of national security, with a proposed budget of $3.13 billion; the enforcement of federal laws and defending the “rights and interests” of the American people, at $8.23 billion; assisting state, local and tribal efforts in the prevention and reduction of crime and violence, at $1.87 billion; and ensuring the fair and efficient operation of the federal justice system, at $7.49 billion.

Newsman dies

George Herman, a longtime political reporter for CBS News and the longest serving moderator of the network’s Sunday talk show, “Face the Nation,” died yesterday. He was 85.

The cause of his death at George Washington University Hospital was heart failure after a long illness, the network said.

Mr. Herman began his career in political reporting from Washington as CBS’ White House correspondent during President Eisenhower’s first term. He held that post during President Kennedy’s administration as well.

He was host of the network’s Sunday morning public affairs show on television and radio for nearly 15 years, 1969-1983, the longest tenure in the 50-year history of “Face the Nation.”

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

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