- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

Moving on

MoveOn.org is moving on after another humiliating defeat.

MoveOn, formed in 1998 in a failed attempt to prevent President Clinton’s impeachment, kept its winless streak alive Tuesday when former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez went down to defeat against “right-wing Democrat” Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas in the party primary.

MoveOn had endorsed Mr. Rodriguez as “a true Democrat” who “would stand up to the Bush administration in Washington.”

MoveOn’s past efforts include campaigning for Al Gore and John Kerry for president, as well as stumping for Democratic majorities in Congress in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections.

The left-wing group announced yesterday that it is starting an advertising campaign to take back Congress by saturating TV for three months in five Republican House districts.

Meanwhile, the conservative Club for Growth was crowing yesterday because Mr. Cuellar was the first Democrat it had ever endorsed.

Identity crisis

“Will Rogers rides again. The Dust Bowl era humorist, who once famously said, ‘I don’t belong to any organized party. I’m a Democrat,’ would feel right at home in his party today,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

President Bush and the GOP hold all the cards in Washington, and what a mess they’ve made of it. It’s a situation ripe for big Democratic gains in the fall elections, and early polls show the public leaning heavily the Dems’ way in generic matchups,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“At least that was the case before [Tuesday’s] Washington Post reported the disarray among party leaders about how to seize the opportunity. Some of the details look like outtakes from a Rogers’ comedy routine.

“After saying the leaders keep pushing back the release date for their legislative proposals, from last November to ‘a matter of weeks’ from now, Post reporters found the reasons: Democrats can’t agree on what they stand for! The mucky-mucks can’t decide whether to run nationalized campaigns or stress local issues. And they can’t decide the right balance between attacking Bush and pushing their own ideas.

“The latter, of course, is hard to do if you don’t know what those ideas are.

“Not to worry, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told the paper: ‘By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand.’

“That’s a relief. Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen. Only seven months to go until we learn what the party believes in.”

Arizona Guard

Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona yesterday ordered that more Arizona National Guardsmen be posted at the Mexican border to help stop illegal aliens and curb related crimes.

National Guard troops have worked at the border since 1988, but the Associated Press reports that Miss Napolitano signed an order authorizing commanders to station an unspecified number of additional soldiers there to help federal agents.

Once the funding is approved, the troops will monitor crossing points, assist with cargo inspection and operate surveillance cameras, according to the order.

“They are not there to militarize the border,” the governor said. “We are not at war with Mexico.”

About 170 National Guardsmen already are posted at the nation’s busiest illegal entry point, where they assist with communications, fence construction and anti-drug efforts.

Miss Napolitano did not say how many additional troops would be stationed at the border and referred questions to the National Guard. Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Aguirre said the number of troops would not be known until funding for the plan is approved.

The Democratic governor proposed sending troops to the border more than two months ago. Her critics in the Republican-led Legislature then introduced a bill requiring her to do so and providing $10 million for the project.

The bill won final approval yesterday in the House and was headed to the governor, but she promised to veto the measure, saying it infringes on her constitutional powers as commander in chief of the state’s National Guard.

No fence-sitter

“It’s time to build a real fence or a wall along every foot of the 1,989 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border,” syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson writes.

“There can be only two arguments against this approach to keeping out illegal aliens: (1) it won’t work — possible, but we won’t know unless we try — or (2) we don’t want it to work — then, we should say so and open our borders to anyone but criminals and terrorists. Either way, we need more candor in our immigration debates. Now is the time, because Congress is considering its first major immigration legislation in years,” Mr. Samuelson said.

“In 2005, the Border Patrol stopped 1.19 million people trying to enter the United States illegally; 98.5 percent of them were caught along the Southern border. Of those who got through and stayed (crude estimate: about 500,000 annually), about two-thirds lack a high school education. Even a country as accepting of newcomers as the United States cannot effortlessly absorb infinite numbers of poor and unskilled workers. Legal immigration already totals 750,000 to 1 million annually, many of them also unskilled.

“I do not like advocating a fence. It looks and feels bad. It’s easily stigmatized as racist. It would antagonize Mexico. The imagery is appalling, but it beats the alternative: a growing underclass and social tensions. Moreover, a genuine fence would probably work. The construction of about 10 miles of steel and concrete barriers up to 15 feet high in San Diego has reduced illegal crossings in that sector by about 95 percent since 1992, reports Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a supporter of a U.S.-Mexico fence. Sure, there will be tunnels and ladders. But getting in will be harder. Policing will be easier.”

Richards ill

Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards said yesterday that she has cancer of the esophagus and will undergo treatment at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Miss Richards, 72, went in for tests Monday and got the diagnosis Tuesday, spokesman Bill Maddox said.

The former governor is waiting to hear from MD Anderson how advanced the cancer is and what her chances are, the Associated Press reported. The disease is rare and often fatal in women.

“She’s facing this challenge,” Mr. Maddox said.

Miss Richards, a Democrat, was governor from 1991 to 1995, losing a re-election bid to George W. Bush. Since 2001, she has been an adviser at a public relations and lobbying firm.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said that esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in about 3,300 women this year and that about 3,000 of them will die of it.

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

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