- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

DeLay’s critic

A Texas district attorney who denies partisan motives for his investigation of a political group founded by Republican leader Tom DeLay was the featured speaker last week at a Democratic fundraiser where he spoke about the congressman, the Houston Chronicle reports.

A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control of the state Legislature from the Republicans, organizers told reporter Michael Hedges.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, an elected Democrat, helped generate $102,000 for the organization.

In his remarks, Mr. Earle likened Mr. DeLay to a bully and spoke about political corruption and the investigation involving Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, according to a transcript supplied by Mr. Earle.

“This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn’t this Tom DeLay, it’ll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before,” the paper quoted Mr. Earle as saying.

The crowd of 80 to 100 Democratic activists responded by making donations that exceeded the event’s fundraising goal, the paper said.

Political analysts said Mr. Earle’s appearance left him open to questions about his motives.

“It may help Tom DeLay establish his case that Ronnie Earle’s investigation is a partisan witch hunt,” said Richard Murray, a political scientist with the University of Houston.

Media blackout

“If a Democrat falls in the forest and the liberal media doesn’t report it, does it make a noise? Predictably, we’re still waiting to find out,” Donald Luskin writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“On Monday, Florida Congressman Robert Wexler broke ranks with fellow Democrats by offering a plan to reform Social Security. Amazing! After months of party-line stonewalling, Wexler made a gesture of bipartisanship. And yet there hasn’t been one solitary word about it in the ‘paper of record,’ the New York Times,” Mr. Luskin said.

“This is big news. Why the silent treatment from the liberal media?

“Could it be the liberal establishment is hoping that if they pretend Wexler’s initiative doesn’t exist, it will just go away, allowing the Democrats to get back to business as usual by boycotting President Bush’s efforts at reform?”

“More likely, the reason for the media silence is that the substance of Wexler’s Social Security reform proposal is an embarrassment to the Democratic party. You see, Wexler’s proposal consists of just one element: raise taxes — 6 percent on anyone making more than $90,000 a year.”

‘Irrelevant question’

“NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted Wednesday night how ‘a brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll’ shows ‘that by a margin of 56 to 34, Americans want the Senate to weigh in on the president’s judicial nominees rather than giving them blanket approval’ — as if that’s at issue,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“In fact, no one is calling for ‘blanket approval’ since, if the filibusters against judicial nominees were eliminated, those now blocked would still have to earn the backing of the majority of senators, just like every other judge the Senate has ever approved,” Mr. Baker said.

“On Thursday’s ‘Today,’ Matt Lauer highlighted for Tim Russert the same irrelevant question, but then Lauer cryptically referred to how the public was ‘evenly split pretty much on the whole filibuster issue.’ ”

Invoking Hitler

Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and a supporter of the “nuclear option” to ban filibusters on judicial nominations, yesterday invoked Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler while criticizing Democrats.

In particular, Mr. Santorum scolded Democrats for the “audacity” of lodging the first organized, systematic and sustained series of filibusters against judicial nominees, then accusing Republicans of changing the rules if they vote to ban those filibusters.

“It’s the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, ‘I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me? How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine.’ ”

Ducking Dean

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean was in Phoenix on Wednesday, but Arizona’s top Democrat — Gov. Janet Napolitano — steered clear of the liberal bulldog during the visit, the Business Journal of Phoenix reports.

Mr. Dean addressed a rally hosted by the Young Democrats of Arizona and attended by state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson. Mr. Pederson is a shopping mall developer and is considering a challenge next year to Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.

But the head of the Democratic ticket, Mrs. Napolitano, was not at the Dean appearance and had no meetings scheduled with the former Vermont governor and vanquished 2004 presidential candidate, reporter Mike Sunnucks said.

Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L’Ecuyer gave the obligatory scheduling conflict as the reason for no face time with Mr. Dean.

The governor has avoided getting mixed in with the more left-wing, Michael Moore/MoveOn.org factions of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Dean, in his address, hailed Tuesday’s election of Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles. Mr. Villaraigosa defeated fellow Democrat James Hahn to become Los Angeles’ first Hispanic mayor in more than a century. Mr. Dean said the Republican Party cannot boast of that kind of diversity in its roster of mayors or U.S. senators.

The DNC chairman failed to mention that Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and top Bush administration officials — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — are Hispanic and that the Republican Party improved its standing with Hispanics in the November vote.

Sinking numbers

Public approval of Congress is at its lowest level in more than a decade, according to a poll conducted as Republicans and Democrats remained locked in struggles over the confirmation of judges and the remaking of Social Security.

Only 33 percent of those surveyed approved of the job being done by Congress, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday. That’s the lowest figure since 1994, the year voters swept Democrats out of power.

An Associated Press/Ipsos poll released earlier this month found 35 percent approval.

Won’t switch

“Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, who has been booed by his Republican colleagues behind closed doors and who acknowledges tension with the rest of the House GOP, says that Democrats often hint he should switch parties but that he would never consider doing so,” the Hill newspaper reports.

“There are a lot of people who hint at it, but I’ve never had a serious discussion,” Mr. Shays said in an interview with reporter Alexander Bolton.

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

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