- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

Where’s Schumer?

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, held a press conference at the Capitol yesterday that was billed as an attack on the “GOP’s Culture of Corruption.”

Conspicuously missing was Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. attorney in Washington in the theft of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele’s credit report.

Two DSCC researchers who have been identified as the perpetrators have since resigned, but Senate officials say the theft could lead to indictments and that investigators are looking into what role, if any, higher-up DSCC officials played in the caper.

Angry prosecutor

A Texas prosecutor tried to convince a grand jury that Rep. Tom DeLay gave tacit approval to a series of laundered campaign contributions, and when jurors declined to indict, he became angry, according to two persons directly familiar with the proceeding.

The grand jury was one of three that considered whether there was probable cause to indict Mr. DeLay. Two other grand juries did indict Mr. DeLay, who had to step aside temporarily as House majority leader under Republican rules.

Both indictments focused on a supposed scheme to provide corporate political donations to Texas legislative candidates in violation of state law.

The two persons interviewed, who commented to the Associated Press anonymously because of grand jury secrecy, said Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle became visibly angry when the grand jurors last week signed a document declining to indict, known as a “no bill.”

One person said the sole evidence Mr. Earle presented was a DeLay interview with the prosecutor, in which Mr. DeLay said he was generally aware of activities of his associates. He is charged in a supposed money-laundering scheme to funnel corporate donations to Texas legislative candidates.

The person said Mr. Earle tried to convince the jurors that if Mr. DeLay “didn’t say ‘Stop it,’ he gave his tacit approval.”

After the grand jurors declined to go forward, the mood “was unpleasant,” the other person said, describing Mr. Earle’s reaction.

Mr. DeLay and political aides Jim Ellis and John Colyandro were indicted last week by another grand jury, accused of criminal conspiracy to violate Texas election laws.

After the second grand jury declined to indict, a third grand jury brought money laundering charges against Mr. DeLay on Monday.

Freeh vs. Clinton

Former FBI director Louis Freeh, in a book due out next week, says his relationship with former President Bill Clinton — the man who appointed him — was terrible because Mr. Clinton’s scandals made him a constant target of FBI investigations, Matt Drudge writes at www.drudgereport.com.

“Freeh discloses this and many other details of his dealings with the Clinton White House in a new bombshell book: ‘My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror,’ ” Mr. Drudge said.

Mr. Freeh has taped an interview with Mike Wallace of CBS’ “60 Minutes” to be broadcast Sunday, Mr. Drudge said.

Mr. Freeh writes, “The problem was with Bill Clinton — the scandals and the rumored scandals, the incubating ones and the dying ones never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading him in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons just waiting to burst out.”

Miers’ task

“It all depends on the hearings,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Barring a withdrawal of her nomination, it’s going to come down to Harriet Miers’ ability to argue her own case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the American people decide she seems like a good person — sympathetic, wise, even-keeled, knowledgeable — she’ll be in; and if not, not. …

“So the administration can turn this around. Or rather Ms. Miers can. In her favor: America has never met her, she’ll get to make a first impression. Working against her: But they’ll already be skeptical. By the time of the hearings she’ll have been painted as Church Lady. There’s a great old American tradition of not really liking Church Lady,” Miss Noonan said.

“That having been said, the Miers pick was another administration misstep. The president misread the field, the players, their mood and attitude. He called the play, they looked up from the huddle and balked. And debated. And dissed. Momentum was lost. The quarterback looked foolish.

“The president would have been politically better served by what Pat Buchanan called a bench-clearing brawl. … Senate Democrats, forced to confront a serious and principled conservative of known stature, would have damaged themselves in the fight.”

Democratic ‘myths’

To regain political power, Democrats must abandon favorite election myths, adopt a strong position on national defense and pick candidates who connect with average voters, two political analysts from the party said yesterday.

Political scientists Elaine Kamarck and William Galston, both Democrats, warned that the most important first step is to abandon beliefs they describe as “election myths.”

The report, done for the moderate Democratic strategy group Third Way, compared the current situation to 1989, when they wrote a report that mapped a centrist strategy for Democrats.

They said the current “myths” are:

• The belief that Democrats can win if they just do a great job of mobilizing their base. Republicans have improved at mobilizing their own base, so Democrats need to do more than that.

• The theory that demographic changes over time will make Democrats a majority, a questionable concept with the Hispanic vote increasingly up for grabs.

• The belief that Democrats can succeed politically if they simply learn to talk more effectively about their positions.

• The strategy of avoiding cultural issues, playing down national security and changing the subject to domestic issues. National security is too dominant a concern now.

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

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