- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Boehner’s record

“Congressmen don’t often tout a record of not steering money back to their districts. But that’s one thing Rep. John Boehner is doing now in hope of becoming the next House majority leader,” Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“On Sunday, the Ohio Republican, kicking off his bid for the post Tom DeLay finally abandoned over the weekend, called for a ‘conversation on renewal.’ Behind the scenes, he’s lining up support by reminding members that he has voted against all three of the major highway bills that have come up for a vote during his 15 years in Congress, including the most recent pork-filled bonanza that President Bush signed last year, and that he has often refused to add earmarks to transportation bills.

“His staff has even circulated criticism from the Cincinnati Enquirer — Mr. Boehner’s hometown newspaper — for forgoing tens of millions of dollars in pork that he could have easily directed to his district,” Mr. Miniter said.

“Whether or not Mr. Boehner is the right man to lead the House majority, his conversation is clearly necessary now. House Republicans have been adrift for at least a year and arguably haven’t accomplished anything big since the initial flourish of conservative ideas shortly after Newt Gingrich led the party in a takeover of Congress in 1994.

“Welfare reform came in 1996, as did the Freedom to Farm Act, which curbed subsidies until it was undone two years later. Congress did pass President Bush’s tax cuts after the dot-com bubble burst, but with even more Republicans in the House and Senate today and clear evidence that the cuts are fueling the booming economy, Congress has been unable to renew them, much less make them permanent.

“Meanwhile, spending continues largely unabated; Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are still headed for fiscal meltdown; and Republicans are in danger of not standing for limited or even ethical government.

“If Republicans pass up the opportunity they now have in the House, they’ll waste another year and probably find themselves in the minority in the next Congress. And deservedly so. No party can afford to sit idle on domestic policy while controlling both houses of Congress as well as the White House.

“Voters can be patient and even forgiving. But squandered opportunities and toleration for unprincipled leadership will eventually erode public trust in a party’s ability to confront the problems facing this nation, and with it, the ability to win elections.”

In the mainstream

” ‘Judge Alito Must Not Be Confirmed.’ That’s the headline atop the Web site of People for the American Way,” syndicated columnist James P. Pinkerton writes.

” ‘Oppose Alito,’ proclaims Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. And the New York Times editorial page worries, ‘Judge Alito’s record appears extreme.’

“Yes, you read that right: The Times, the bastion of Manhattan ideology, which never met a social-engineering program it didn’t like, is now delivering lectures to Americans on what should be considered centrist,” Mr. Pinkerton said.

“But a strange thing has happened on Alito’s way to the Supreme Court: nothing. After the first day of Senate hearings, he is still moving forward. In the two months since his nomination was announced, Judge Samuel Alito has been relentlessly battered and bludgeoned by the left, and yet his support is still solid. According to a poll in [Monday’s] Washington Post, the public supports his nomination by 53 percent to 27 percent.

“All of which suggests that the left, and the Democrats who follow the left’s lead, will fail in their bid to stop Alito, just as they failed to block John Roberts last year. …

“What’s the source of Alito’s strength? Simple. To a degree that should alarm his detractors, Alito represents America. He represents the mainstream of American opinion, which has shifted from Democratic to Republican in the decades since Alito was born in 1950.”

Arousing sympathy

“If the Democrats seriously wish to secure the rejection of Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, then they made a very bad start with Monday’s hearings,” John O’Sullivan writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Only by making Alito deeply unpopular with the American people will they get their own party and five or six Republicans to join together in filibustering the nomination. But the opening day of the hearings might almost have been designed to arouse popular sympathy for the nominee,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.

“There sat Alito, quiet, composed and seemingly reasonable. Against this modest, neatly dressed man, however, the senators preached, hectored and threatened in their most self-righteous manner.”

Trip canceled

Rep. Ray LaHood, Illinois Republican, dropped out of a 12-day trip to Asia so he can work for the election of Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio as the next majority leader.

“If we’re going to have big changes in leadership, I want to really be a part of helping to shape that,” Mr. LaHood told the Peoria Journal Star.

“I’m going to try to help [Mr. Boehner] get elected,” said Mr. LaHood, who plans to spend the next few weeks lobbying his Illinois Republican colleagues to support Mr. Boehner. “I just really didn’t think I could be doing that when I was traveling around the world.”

Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, announced last week that he will not try to regain the majority leader post he temporarily gave up after a Texas prosecutor brought charges against him involving state campaign-finance laws. Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who has been filling in for Mr. DeLay, now seeks the position as his own.

The taxpayer-funded trip to India, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore began Monday and involves about 10 members of Congress.

Ackerman chosen

The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians, at the conclusion of its four-day conference in Jerusalem yesterday, unanimously selected U.S. Rep. Gary L. Ackerman to serve as its president.

Mr. Ackerman, New York Democrat, a 12-term member of the House, will lead the group and preside at the council’s meeting next year in Washington. Mr. Ackerman and a group of 12 vice presidents from around the world were chosen by the council’s steering committee and were confirmed without objection by the assembly of attending parliamentarians to serve as the organization’s executive.

“I am deeply honored by the confidence of my fellow Jewish parliamentarians from around the world, and I look forward to building on the great work done by this founding conference in Jerusalem,” Mr. Ackerman said.

Drawing nearly 70 representatives from 30 nations, the council was created to provide a platform for Jewish leaders to cooperate on issues of concern, including the spread and growth of anti-Semitism, the need to improve interfaith relations, and the application of the Jewish tradition of “tikkun olam” — repairing the world — to global problems.

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

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