- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

Democratic edge

Seven months before the midterm elections, Senate Democrats have $32.1 million and maintain a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage over their Republican counterparts.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised almost $7 million last month and has $32.1 million in the bank, the Associated Press reports. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised just more than $5 million last month and has $16.5 million cash on hand, committee officials said.

Rove ‘a winner’

“The mainstream media may have trouble resisting the temptation to declare that Karl Rove has been demoted, but the truth is quite the contrary. By giving up his role as deputy White House chief of staff, Rove has been freed to do what he does best: shape big issues and develop strategies to win elections,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“In the mini-shuffle announced [Wednesday], Rove was a winner. No longer will he have to honcho a tedious policy process at the White House, which he’s been doing in President Bush’s second term. He now will resume the freewheeling role and significant, but limited, responsibilities he held during the first term. At the moment, he has two broad responsibilities: handling macro issues like taxes and immigration and planning for the election on Nov. 7,” Mr. Barnes said.

“When Rove’s job change was announced, it spread fear among the immigrant groups that are lobbying for immigration reform. Initial press reports indicated he’d be giving up any policy role. Not so. Rove still has the assignment of working on a compromise on immigration legislation acceptable to Bush and to a majority of congressional Republicans.

“And, by the way, Rove will have an even friendlier ally as White House chief of staff. The outgoing chief, Andy Card, was occasionally quoted as suggesting that Rove had amassed too much power at the White House. The new chief, Josh Bolten, appears not to feel that way and happens to be a close friend of Rove.”

Bush and Congress

“Republicans on Capitol Hill seem more interested in complaining about the Bush administration than in winning, or at least limiting their losses, in the midterm elections. The White House is arrogant; it is out of touch; it does not face the same electoral pressures we do. We have heard it all before, and there is truth in each complaint. But perhaps the recriminations can wait until after the elections?” the editors of National Review write at www.nationalreview.com.

“Congress is not going to be in session for many more days this year. There is not much time for congressional Republicans to promote popular legislation as a way of improving their standing — even if one assumed, contrary to fact, that they could agree on what legislation that would be. Their fate is therefore tied to the president’s. If the election is held with Bush holding a 35 percent approval rating, they will lose the House. If Bush rises to 45 percent by the fall, they will do fine,” the magazine said.

“Moreover, Bush is the only Republican official with an interest in the health of the party nationally. Some presidential contenders can calculate that harm to the party will make them look better cast in the role of a savior. Most congressmen know that rain or shine, they will be re-elected (although whether they will be re-elected to the majority or a minority is an open question). If Republicans are going to recover, Bush is going to have to lead them.

“And they are going to have to do a better job of following. That does not mean that Republicans should mute their criticisms of Bush when they honestly think he is mistaken. It does mean that they should not be looking for ways to distance themselves from him.

“Congressmen should try to spread the good economic news in their districts before carping at Bush’s failure to do the same thing nationally. When there is progress in Iraq, or when bad news is being exaggerated, they have to say so instead of expecting the White House to clear up the record. (American casualties have been falling for months. If Americans don’t hear that from their congressmen, they’re certainly not going to hear it from Katie Couric.) Most Republican congressmen believe that the NSA wiretaps are important to protecting America. Perhaps they should say so. National security is mainly, but not exclusively, an executive responsibility.”

Graphic language

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales used strikingly graphic language yesterday to focus attention on online child pornography and said Internet services companies are not doing enough to combat the problem.

“It is graphic, but if we do not talk candidly, then it is easy for people to turn away and worry about other matters,” Mr. Gonzales said in a speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria.

Acknowledging that his descriptions could make some uncomfortable, Mr. Gonzales said he wanted to make sure people knew what was going on, the Associated Press reports.

It was Mr. Gonzales’ second visit to the center, created in 1984 as a clearinghouse for information about missing and exploited children.

Ernie Allen, the center’s president, said many Americans continue to hold mistaken impressions of the issue. “We hear all the time that this is really just adult porn, 20-year-olds in pigtails made to look like they’re 15,” Mr. Allen said. “This is about children being sexually victimized. They’re young children, and they’re getting younger.”

Graphic language II

Nobody expects to get a letter from a member of Congress that ends with an expletive.

But that’s what happened when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri Republican, recently corresponded with a resident of her southeast Missouri district.

The letter ended with a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter a — “I think you’re an …”

Mrs. Emerson says she can’t explain how the offensive language made it into the letter, which otherwise reads like a typical response to a citizen’s question about last year’s testimony of oil executives before the Senate Commerce Committee.

“There is no excuse for this inappropriate letter having been sent, and every apology has been made to the individual who received it,” Mrs. Emerson said in a statement to the Associated Press.

“We cannot determine whether the addition to the letter was made by someone within the office or by someone with access to the office, but it is on my letterhead and the responsibility for it lies with me. A valuable lesson has been learned, and new procedures will be adopted as a result.”

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

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