- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Crosscurrents

Laura Bush thinks the American people want a debate on a proposed constitutional amendment against homosexual “marriage,” but “I don’t think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously.”

The first lady, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” added, “It requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue — a lot of sensitivity.”

The Senate will debate legislation that would have the Constitution define marriage as the union between a man and a woman early next month, Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

President Bush supports the amendment, but Vice President DickCheney does not. Mr. Cheney’s daughter, Mary, is a lesbian and has been speaking out against the marriage amendment as she promotes her new book, “Now It’s My Turn,” the Associated Press reports.

Mary Cheney wrote that she almost quit working on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 because of Mr. Bush’s position on homosexual “marriage.” Asked yesterday on Fox about reports that White House political adviser Karl Rove and other Republicans want to use the issue to mobilize conservatives for the midterm election, she said she hoped “no one would think about trying to amend the Constitution as a political strategy.”

Newt on Hillary

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich agrees that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Democratic front-runner should she make a bid for president in 2008. But winning, he says, is another matter.

“This is a country which has elected a peanut farmer, an actor who made movies with monkeys. I mean, you know, with chimpanzees. I mean, many things happen in America,” said Mr. Gingrich, referring to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

“But I think, you know, she has a lot of challenges, and there’s a question whether or not there’s a ceiling, that when you got down to the Hillary/anti-Hillary, whether or not she can break 50 percent in primaries,” Mr. Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Calling Mrs. Clinton “formidable” as a presidential candidate, Mr. Gingrich said: “If we beat her, we’re going to beat her with better ideas. We’re not going to beat her with some kind of negative campaign.”

Culture of corruption

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was taken to task by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an editorial Friday.

“Last week, a jury of valley residents validated the stench that surrounds former Clark County Commissioners Dario Herrera and Mary Kincaid-Chauncey by finding them guilty of a combined 30 counts related to public corruption. Although the evidence proved both defendants used their elected offices to leverage favors, Herrera’s appetite for power, extra-marital sex and cash was particularly disgusting,” the newspaper said.

“It would be hard to imagine anyone defending the 32-year-old Herrera, especially his one-time mentor and political guardian, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. After all, Sen. Reid has barked for months about the need to end the ‘culture of corruption’ that taints politics today. What harsh words would Sen. Reid, who thrust Herrera onto the national stage four years ago by making him a congressional candidate, reserve for a man whom a jury deemed crooked?

“‘I’m not going to pound on Dario. He’s had enough pounding,’ Sen. Reid said Tuesday. ‘I think he’s young enough when he finishes whatever punishment the court metes out to him that he can still contribute to society.’ The senator described Herrera as having ‘great talent’ and a ‘tremendous intellect.’

“If Nevada’s senior senator wanted his rhetoric about GOP corruption taken seriously, he would have rebuked Herrera’s behavior as the kind of conduct he and his party will not tolerate. …

“Instead, Sen. Reid sent Herrera the equivalent of a Hallmark card, even after it was revealed that one of his aides escorted Herrera from the federal courthouse immediately after his conviction to spare him from the gantlet of journalists seeking his reaction. How can Sen. Reid be seen as someone capable of cleaning up corruption when a member of his own staff does favors for felons?

“The senator’s tough talk is a partisan joke. If Sen. Reid can’t walk the walk on corruption, he should find a new talking point.”

Like ‘tea bags’

ABC News reporter John Stossel says most journalists “are steeped like tea bags in The Washington Post and the New York Times.”

“I don’t think journalists are trying to push the agenda. I think most of you think you’re right down the middle. But the people you hang around with all think as you do here in New York and Washington. And that leads to a bias. … Not everyone, but most,” Mr. Stossel said told host Howard Kurtz yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

Mr. Kurtz asked: “So you think it is to some degree subconscious or, at least because — in other words, you think that journalists are out of touch with ordinary people, who perhaps are and ought to be more skeptical of government regulations?”

Said Mr. Stossel: “Yes. I think we are steeped like tea bags in The Washington Post and the New York Times, and it affects the way we view the world.”

Mr. Stossel is the author of a new book, “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel — Why Everything You Know Is Wrong.”

High-tech Thomas

“Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas won’t get upset if you call him a techno-geek. In fact, he loves it and is considered in the court to be a world-class techie who prefers working on his computer at home — or on the road in his RV,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“And now he’s getting some pats on the back for bringing the court into the 21st century by pushing major advances in computer and high-tech security technology,” Mr. Bedard said.

“‘He’s really into it,’ says Rep. Frank Wolf, a telecommuting proponent who helped Thomas get funding for the court’s [information-technology] changes. It’s a job the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist gave Thomas, though he’s shy about taking credit. At a recent budget hearing, as Thomas demurred when asked if he was the force behind the changes, Justice [Anthony M.] Kennedy barked, ‘Yes, yes.’”

Lightning strike

A plane carrying Sen. Edward M. Kennedy from western Massachusetts to his home on the coast was struck by lightning Saturday and had to be diverted to New Haven, Conn., his spokeswoman said.

The eight-seat Cessna Citation 550 plane lost all electrical power, including communications, and the pilot had to fly the plane manually, according to spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner. No one was hurt, the Associated Press reports.

The Democrat had just delivered the commencement address at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and was on his way to his Cape Cod home when the plane was struck about 4 p.m., she said.

The jet landed safely at New Haven at 4:11 p.m., said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Murray.

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

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