- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Progressives I

Democrats are borrowing a page from the Republicanplaybook, getting feisty and hawkish as election fever — even midterm election fever — sets in.

Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and 17 Democratic foreign-policy wonks, analysts and pollsters have co-written “With All Our Might: Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty,” to be released today at the National Press Club.

This does not sound like the typical appeasement/blame America first/think global fare.

“Instead of falling back on easy criticisms of the administration’s blunders in Iraq, a new Progressive Policy Institute book argues that progressives should seize the moment by proposing a comprehensive agenda for winning the war against jihadist terrorism —an agenda rooted in the tough-minded, internationalist tradition of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy,” notes publicity material.

Interesting. Republican strategists, take note: The following progressive outreach also uses the same “don’t whine, take action” approach — right down to the language.

Progressives II

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan has a new calling. She has joined the Network of Spiritual Progressives, members of which arrive in Washington on May 17 “to discuss how to reclaim spirituality from the religious right,” according to spokeswoman Anne Connelly yesterday.

Along with Mrs. Sheehan, the four-day event at All Souls Unitarian Church in the District will feature Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine and author of “The Left Hand of God”; Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi; the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Soujourner’s magazine — and a hoped-for 1,000 participants.

And here’s that aforementioned language:

“Instead of continuing to blame the religious right for leveraging religious ideas for political gain, spiritual progressives are gathering in increasing numbers to infuse the progressive political agenda with a powerful voice that links spirituality with social justice,” the group noted.

They plan to present Congress with the first “spiritual Covenant with America,” which they bill as an alternative to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract with America.”

Ouch

Low approval ratings continue to plague the White House. A USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday found that President Bush’s rating fell to 31 percent — down three percentage points in a single week. The poll found 52 percent of conservatives and 68 percent of Republicans still favor Mr. Bush — though this is a record low in both categories.

Things are tough all over, though. The poll also found that 57 percent of registered voters polled think that current members of Congress do not deserve re-election. The poll of 1,013 adults, taken over the weekend, had a margin of error of three percentage points.

Stopping Hillary

Into such a dicey political climate comes John Podhoretz with his oeuvre “Can She Be Stopped? Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless …,” due in bookstores today.

The New York Democrat will be in the White House unless, Mr. Podhoretz counsels, conservatives and Republicans patch up their differences.

“If you Republicans don’t get real serious real fast, if you don’t wise up and settle down and get focused, that willbe Hillary up there on the podium taking the oath of office from [Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.],” he writes. “You need to avoid the temptation that has begun to afflict members of the party’s more ideological branches — the temptation to threaten to break off, to secede, to run third-party protest candidacies. That will only get Hillary elected.”

It won’t be like a game of football or baseball, either. “The closest analogy is golf … the golfer who wins a tournament is the one who makes the fewest unforced errors, the one who gets in his own way the least,” the New York Post editorialist advises, recommending a 10-point strategy that will expose the “real, ultraliberal Hillary.”

Mary Cheney’s ‘Turn’

Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, has a new book out today in which she denounces a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage,” a measure she says “would write discrimination into the Constitution.”

Scripps Howard News Service reports that in “Now It’s My Turn,” Miss Cheney writes that when her father agreed to be President Bush’s running mate in 2000, she told him, “Personally, I’d rather not be known as the vice president’s lesbian daughter. But, if you’re going to run, I think the country would be lucky to have you. I want to do whatever I can to help out the campaign. And you’d better win.”

Farewell, Mrs. Harris?

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said yesterday that Rep. Katherine Harris has dropped 30 points behind Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in approval polls and is a long shot for a November victory.

“I just don’t think she can win,” Mr. Bush said of his fellow Republican’s struggling campaign, according to the Associated Press.

Mr. Bush openly hopes state House Speaker Allan Bense will challenge Mrs. Harris, though Mr. Bense is torn about his political destiny. But he had better hurry. The deadline for entering September’s primary is Friday. Mrs. Harris, meanwhile, has been dogged by staff turnover and her acceptance of $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions from defense contractor Mitchell Wade.

“She’s not gained any traction,” Mr. Bush added. “It seems that, unfortunately through no fault of her own, perhaps, the press coverage is all about the problems in her campaign.”

An inconvenient truth

Once in the presidential election derby, it was just plain Clinton-Gore a la Bill and Al. Then there was talk of Clinton-Gore Redux, as in Hillary and Al. Could Clinton vs. Gore be next in 2008, pitting the former first lady against the former vice president?

Though Al Gore and his people continually insist he is not running, the Wall Street Journal has found otherwise.

“I do know that he’s thinking about it. I know for a fact,” a former adviser told the paper yesterday.

Mr. Gore has begun assembling a Nashville-based public relations team and has been on the cover of Vanity Fair, Wired and American Prospect magazines. His global warming, hand-wringing documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” opens in theaters later this month.

“The Gore buzz reflects a sense among even some pro-Clinton Democrats that Mrs. Clinton, considered the prohibitive favorite for the nomination given her support in the party’s base of activists and donors, can’t win the general election because she is a polarizing figure to many voters.

These skeptics believe only someone such as Mr. Gore with the celebrity and fundraising potential to match Mrs. Clinton could stop her,” the Journal notes.

Contact Jennifer Harper at 202/636-3085 or jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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