- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Let the fun begin

“This is going to be fun. Let’s see if Democrats in the Senate are willing to stage an all-out assault on a nominee simply because he has expressed a personal opinion on whether the Constitution protects ‘a right to an abortion.’ That is certainly a view with which many of them disagree,” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes, referring to a 1985 document in which Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. expressed opposition to abortion.

“Funny. Last week, I could swear I heard Democrats all over the place celebrating the victory in Virginia of gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine. He is pro-life. Do Kaine’s views make him an extremist radical who cannot be allowed to decide important matters?” Mr. Podhoretz asked.

“In Pennsylvania, Democrats are celebrating the poll numbers suggesting their senatorial candidate, Robert Casey Jr., is going to trounce sitting Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. Casey is pro-life. Should he be excluded from the company of acceptable policy-makers?

“Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, has a pro-life voting record. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is on the executive council of Democrats for Life of America. Are they, too, to be considered out of the mainstream?

“Of course not. But they are Democrats, you see. And in that 20-year-old document, Alito described himself as a lifelong Republican and a conservative deeply influenced by, among other things, National Review magazine.

“Horrors!”

The pre-pre-primaries

“Guess who’s been making the political rounds in Hollywood recently?” Los Angeles Times reporter Tina Daunt asks.

“Not just Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, though she’s made two major fundraising trips to Los Angeles in the last six months. Or Al Gore. (Though he’s a frequent visitor.)

“Try Sen. John F. Kerry.

“Followed by Howard Dean.

“Followed by Sen. John McCain.

“And this week, it’s Andrew Cuomo (2016, anyone?), before Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. drops by.

“While the political world’s attention has been focused most recently on the travails of I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Karl Rove and the Bush administration — not to mention a bruising California special election called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — Los Angeles has been humming along in one of its favorite roles: early-bird talent scout looking over a steady parade of politicians here to court Hollywood’s most influential Democratic fundraisers.

“‘Los Angeles is like the Iowa caucus of the fundraising scene,’ said campaign strategist Bill Carrick. ‘Even people who say they’re opposed to Hollywood values are out here raising money.’

“So three years before a presidential election, and without a single declared major candidate in sight, the West Coast pre-pre-primaries have already begun.”

Hip-hopping mad

A conservative organization has filed a complaint against Sean “Diddy” Combs, contending that the hip-hop mogul violated election law in his 2004 “Vote or Die” campaign by promoting Democrat John Kerry and opposing President Bush.

The National Legal and Policy Center, which filed the complaint, said yesterday that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) informed the group in a letter that it would review the complaint.

Ian Stirton, a spokesman for the FEC, said the matter would remain confidential until resolved. Mr. Stirton said that the FEC receives numerous complaints and that it would be up to the commission to decide whether to proceed with an investigation.

Mr. Combs, through his organization, Citizen Change, traveled to several cities last year urging people to sign up and vote. He declined to endorse either candidate during his push to register new voters.

Aboard his private jet, dubbed Air Force Change, he told the Associated Press at the time that “Kerry isn’t smart enough” and should be spending more time in the inner city to “see how a young kid is going to school.”

As for the president, he said: “You don’t see Bush taking the time to go to BET or MTV. Nobody was talking to this community. I deal with them every day.”

In its complaint, the National Legal and Policy Center cited “Vote or Die” rallies sponsored by Citizen Change in which actor Leonardo DiCaprio urged the crowd to back Mr. Kerry. The conservative group said the public record backs its claim that Mr. Combs and Citizen Change undertook a campaign to defeat Mr. Bush and elect the Democrat.

“We feel these are clear-cut violations,” said Peter Flaherty, president of the center.

Alexis McGill, executive director of Citizen Change, said the group is proud of what it accomplished and hoped that other organizations would embrace its efforts to bring in new voters.

Cheney heckled

Vice President Dick Cheney was heckled by peace protesters yesterday as he spoke at the groundbreaking for a public-policy center in Knoxville, Tenn., honoring former Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr.

During Mr. Cheney’s brief remarks, about a half-dozen people protesting the war in Iraq yelled, “War, what is it good for?” and held up a large banner saying “Peace Now.”

Mr. Cheney continued speaking and didn’t acknowledge the protesters, who were escorted from the ceremony inside the University of Tennessee’s basketball arena.

About 50 protesters, most of them appearing to be college age, demonstrated outside the arena. Several carried signs, including one that read “Honor Baker, Impeach Cheney,” the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Cheney said that Mr. Baker, a Republican who was President Reagan’s chief of staff and ambassador to Japan, has brought tremendous credit to the university, to Tennessee and to the nation.

“It’s good to know that far into the future people will come to this place and learn of Howard’s career and his deep belief in the nobility of public service,” Mr. Cheney said.

About 400 people attended the ceremony, which coincided with Mr. Baker’s 80th birthday.

The $25 million privately financed Baker Center is being created to foster greater appreciation of public service and understanding of government.

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

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