- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2006

Kerry’s lament

Was it his campaign’s slow response to the Swift Boat advertisements or the remark that he voted for Iraq war funding before he voted against it that Sen. John Kerry regrets most from his failed bid for the White House?

Neither, according to Mr. Kerry’s reflection yesterday on what he considered his biggest mistake when trying to wrest the presidency from George Bush in 2004.

“I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message,” the Massachusetts senator said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Kerry campaign opted to accept federal money — and federal spending limits and other rules — after he won the Democratic nomination. The nominating convention in Boston occurred more than a month before the GOP renominated Mr. Bush, forcing Mr. Kerry to begin spending under federal rules much earlier than the president, the Associated Press notes.

“We had a 13-week general election; they had an eight-week general election. We had the same pot of money. We had to harbor our resources in a different way, and we didn’t have the same freedom,” Mr. Kerry said.

“I think the most important thing would have been to spend more money, if we could have, on the advertising and responding to some of the attacks,” he said.

As for other missteps, Mr. Kerry said: “I made some mistakes. I know what they are, and I take responsibility for them.”

As for a run in 2008, Mr. Kerry said he would decide by the end of the year.

‘Theoconservatives’

“Political movements are often labeled by their enemies,” Ross Douthat writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“‘Neoconservative’ was an insult Michael Harrington hurled at Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol during their journey rightward; ‘queer’ was a slur before it became a badge of empowerment (and impenetrable academy theory). So perhaps it’s time for religious conservatives to stop complaining about the term ‘theoconservative’ — coined by Jacob Heilbrunn in 1996 and popularized by Andrew Sullivan, among others — and accept it with a wink and a grin, as the kind of backhanded compliment that any successful movement earns from its opponents,” said Mr. Douthat, an associate editor at the Atlantic magazine.

“This a good time for such considerations, because the last, limping years of the Bush administration find religious conservatives in a position of unusual strength — flush from victory in the Roberts and Alito confirmation battles; relatively untainted by the stumbling and scandals afflicting the GOP; and stronger, in numbers and credibility, than most of their rivals for control of the party. ‘National greatness conservatism’ has foundered, at least temporarily, on the rocks of Iraq, while the starve-the-beast right looks in the mirror and finds the beast staring back, wearing Jack Abramoff’s fedora.

“Which means that for the moment, the closest thing to a credible public philosophy the GOP has to offer emanates from the once-unlikely alliance of evangelicals and Catholics, and their God-infused politics of social reform.”

A ‘rough year’

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner calls it a “rough year” for the GOP. Just not rough enough to turn off most voters.

“I believe that when Americans see the stark differences between the two parties, that our members will do well in the November elections,” Mr. Boehner said yesterday.

On the Ohio Republican’s shortlist of party woes are Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina and the shadow cast “on all our work” by the troubles of his predecessor, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.

“Listen, we’ve had a rough year,” Mr. Boehner said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ve had a tough time. I’m not going to deny it.”

Yet, he said, Republicans have an agenda to offer.

“I think House Republicans are committed to making sure that we keep America prosperous, that people have access to health insurance, that we spend their taxpayer funds wisely, and to make sure that we increase our border security and our national security,” he said.

Penalizing women

First, there was the No Child Left Behind Act to overhaul federal education law. Now comes “Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws,” a new book that says many government programs “penalize working wives, single mothers and widows.”

Kimberley A. Strassel, one of the book’s three co-authors, spoke Friday to about 40 women at the monthly Conservative Women’s Network luncheon at the Heritage Foundation. She cited as an example federal labor laws that bar employers from offering workers the option of taking compensatory time off rather than overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a week.

Although federal workers were given that flexibility as far back as 1978, an attempt in 1997 by then-Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, to extend it to the private sector failed in the face of union opposition.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, commonly referred to as the wage-and-hour law, was designed to curb abuses of the era, but “it has become abusive itself,” said Mrs. Strassel, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.

Similarly, tax laws that encourage businesses to provide benefits in lieu of higher wages hurt women, she contends, because part-timers — mostly women — usually don’t get benefits. “The deck is pretty much stacked against women who are part-time workers,” she said.

Numbers game

“You know an incumbent is in tough shape when it’s considered good news that his challenger is just 9 points ahead, but that’s where Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) finds himself seven months before Election 2006,” pollster Scott Rasmussen writes at www.rasmussenreports.com.

“The latest Rasmussen Reports election poll in the Keystone State shows Democrat Bob Casey leading Santorum 50 percent to 41 percent. That’s the first time in all six polls we’ve conducted on this race that Casey’s lead has slipped to single digits. It’s also the first time Santorum has moved above the 40 percent mark since last July,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

“However, another aspect of the poll might be even more encouraging for Santorum … and troubling for Casey.

“After asking survey respondents who they would vote for, we informed them that the National Organization for Women (NOW) is concerned about Casey on the abortion issue and is endorsing another candidate in the primary. We then asked a second time about how each respondent would vote. Twenty-four percent of Casey’s initial voters changed their mind upon hearing this news. Half switched to Santorum while the others split between ‘some other candidate’ and ‘not sure.’

“The change was dramatic enough that, having heard the new information, voters favored Santorum by a 5-point margin (46 percent to 41 percent). This suggests a lack of voter knowledge about Casey that could make the race more competitive than it seems at this time.”

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

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