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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Utah's big primary

"Timing is everything in politics. Late next month, just as the conference committee that will decide the fate of an immigration bill gets down to business, a GOP primary for a Utah House seat in the country's most conservative congressional district may set the boundaries for any legislation that has a chance of passing both the House and Senate," John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

"Illegal immigration is the key issue in the race, and should five-term incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon of Provo lose to a restrictionist challenger, look for House Republicans to dig in their heels and block any bill that creates a path to citizenship for illegal aliens," Mr. Fund said.

"'House Republicans are already spooked about immigration, and should one of our own lose on the issue, you will see panic break out,' one GOP congressman told me."

"That's why it's good news that the glimmer of a workable compromise surfaced this week, courtesy of Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of 115 conservative House Republicans. Mr. Pence, proud grandson of an Irish immigrant, says the only bill that can pass in this year's hothouse environment may have to be one that couples stiffer border enforcement with a no-amnesty guest-worker program."

Helen vs. Tony

Helen Thomas, the left-leaning dean of the White House press corps, tangled with White House press secretary Tony Snow at yesterday's briefing over President Bush's appointment of Karl Zinsmeister as domestic-policy adviser, Matt Drudge writes at www.drudgereport.com.

Here is a transcript of their conversation:

Miss Thomas: Why did the president pick a man who is so contemptible of the public servants in Washington to be his domestic adviser, saying, 'People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings.' Why did he ...

Mr. Snow: Apparently an opinion that's ...

Miss Thomas: Why would he pick such a man to be a domestic adviser?

Mr. Snow: You meant contemptuous as opposed to contemptible, I think.

Miss Thomas: Pure contempt.

Mr. Snow: I'm not sure it's pure contempt. I know Karl Zinsmeister pretty well, and he is somebody who expresses himself with a certain amount of piquancy. You're perhaps familiar with that, aren't you, Helen?

(LAUGHTER)

And so, as a consequence, from time to time he's going to say -- he'll have some sharp elbows.

Miss Thomas: His attitude toward public servants ...

Mr. Snow: I don't think it is his attitude toward public servants. It may have been toward the press. Just kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

No, look, if you look at the bulk of what Karl Zinsmeister has done at the American Enterprise and elsewhere, I think you're going to find somebody who's done some pretty meaty and interesting research on a variety of topics.

The reason he's being brought in is that he's ...

Miss Thomas: Do you agree with his assessment?

Mr. Snow: I'm not going to -- it is one sentence the guy wrote. And perhaps you may recall -- yes?

Miss Thomas: Arrogant, morally repugnant, cheating, shifty.

Mr. Snow: That's a lot in one sentence, isn't it? He just packed it right in.

Dean's outburst

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean claims to be reaching out to red-state voters, but yesterday, he suggested that opponents of homosexual "marriage" are bigots.

Mr. Dean was responding to news thatSenate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, plans to bring to a vote a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban homosexual "marriage."

"At a time when the Republican Party is in trouble with their conservative base, Bill Frist is taking a page straight out of the Karl Rove playbook to distract from the Republican Party's failed leadership and misplaced priorities by scapegoating LGBT families for political gain, using marriage as a wedge issue," said Mr. Dean, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

"It is not only morally wrong, it is shameful and reprehensible," Mr. Dean said.

Fighting corruption

Senate Minority LeaderHarry Reid yesterday defended his taking free tickets to prize fights from boxing commissions while pushing regulations on the sport in Congress, saying it's his official duty to attend matches in Nevada and that he did nothing wrong, the Associated Press reports.

"I would be criticized if I didn't go," Mr. Reid told reporters yesterday after addressing a veterans group in Las Vegas. "I have an obligation to make sure boxing is conducted properly, not only in Nevada, but around the country."

Among the free tickets Mr. Reid took were ringside passes to a 2004 megafight between world champions Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins, which Mr. Reid attended with Republican Sen. John McCain, who paid for his ticket.

"Sen. McCain is from Arizona, I'm from Nevada. He's not supposed to get free tickets in the state of Nevada, the laws aren't set up that way. He came here to watch the fight. I came here to work for the state of Nevada and to watch the fight," Mr. Reid said.

The Nevada Democrat was responding to an Associated Press story that detailed how the senator had accepted free tickets possibly valued at several thousand dollars from the Nevada Athletic Commission, the agency that regulates boxing in the state.

Mr. Reid said he would continue to accept free tickets. "I'm going to go whenever I have the opportunity," he said.

Sulzberger's 'rant'

"C-SPAN on Saturday night aired the Sunday, May 21, commencement remarks by New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where he was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters," the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

"Sulzberger delivered a left-wing rant in which he presumed liberal policy goals are more noble than conservative ones as he offered an 'apology' for the nation his generation has left to the next generation:

"'You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, whether it's the rights of immigrants to start a new life; or the rights of gays to marry; or the rights of women to choose. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drove policy, and environmentalists have to fight relentlessly for every gain.'"

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