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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hastert to retire?

Former Speaker of the HouseJ. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, plans to announce Friday that he will not seek re-election next year, according to the CBS-TV affiliate in Chicago.

Reporter Mike Flannery cited unnamed sources saying they expect Mr. Hastert to make the announcement on Friday.

"While sources tell CBS 2 that he's leaving Congress after 22 years, he's ridiculed previous speculation along those lines," the TV station said on its Web site.

Edwards says 'no'

Former Sen. John Edwards, who is on the road in western Iowa, is being asked about impeachment at almost every stop on the campaign trail, reporter Christina Bellantoni writes in her "On the Democrats" blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

In Perry on Monday, a question about impeachment drew the loudest applause. But even though the North Carolina Democrat says he believes President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "have engaged in illegal conduct," he adds that he is "not personally for" that tactic.

He tells voters he can understand their frustration with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, but he thinks the newly empowered congressional Democrats should keep holding oversight hearings. During the Clinton impeachment drama, he says, "nothing happened" and legislative work came to a standstill.

At a stop in Onawa, Mr. Edwards added that whoever becomes the Democratic nominee can tie the Republican choice to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and said he will label that candidate as "George Bush on steroids."

Getting it wrong

"Reporting on the resignation of presidential political adviser Karl Rove, ABC's 'World News' on Monday night absurdly blamed Karl Rove for the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and featured John Kerry's condemnation of Rove as all three broadcast network evening shows castigated Rove for his criticism of how Democrats want to coddle terrorists and highlighted his 'leaking' of Valerie Plame's name," the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

"ABC's David Wright cited Rove's 'political jujitsu' in 'turning opponents' strengths against them.' With a Swift Boat ad clip on screen, Wright described a 'sustained attack on John Kerry's war record, an audacious move considering Bush's Vietnam War record was weak.'

"Wright contended that Rove sometimes went 'too far,' such as when 'he accused the Democrats of offering therapy and understanding to our attackers. 9/11 families asked him to stop.' Rounding out Rove's offenses, Wright asserted that 'he's been on the defensive over the leaking of a CIA agent's name as political payback against her husband, and for his part in the fired U.S. attorneys scandal.'

"Following Wright's report, anchor Charles Gibson showcased how Kerry said he orchestrated a political strategy 'that promised to unite Americans but instead left us more divided than [ever] before.' ...

"Of course, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group was created by Vietnam veterans and funded by sources outside of the control of Rove or the campaign, mainly Texas billionaire Boone Pickens. On the Plame case, once again, none of the network stories noted that while Rove may have mentioned her employer to reporters, it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's leak to columnist Robert Novak which got her name and CIA employment into the news media."

Not a magician

"Karl Rove is the first to admit it: he's become a myth, a man from whom political magic is expected," Fred Barnes writes at www. weeklystandard.com.

"Last fall, for instance, Republicans around the country and even in the White House waited for Rove to devise a campaign strategy that would keep Republicans from losing the House and Senate and George Bush from becoming a lame duck president. But instead of a Rove miracle, Republicans and Bush suffered a terrible defeat," Mr. Barnes said. "Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation. ... He not only is a breathtakingly smart strategist but also a clever tactician. ... But he is not a magician."

McCain's pledge

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said yesterday that Congress' failure to act on Social Security shows there is more concern about partisan politics than the good of the nation.

"It's disgraceful and outrageous that Republicans and Democrats have not sat down together and worked out this Social Security problem," the Arizona senator told about 100 people attending a forum in Port Royal, S.C., sponsored by the AARP.

The speech was delivered on the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Associated Press reports.

"A half a century ago, there were 16 American workers who supported every retiree; today, it is three and soon it will be two," he said. "Around 2020 you will have more money going out than you have coming in. That's going to be a crucial time. Should we wait until 2020?"

Mr. McCain said as president he would deal with the matter. "I want to do the hard things," he said. "If Congress doesn't want to do it, let me do it. Let me do it. I'll fix it for them."

Goodbye, Tommy

"You wouldn't know it from his ill-fated presidential bid, but former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson — the latest casualty of the White House sweepstakes — was once a formidable political figure and one of the most successful reform-minded Republicans of the 1990s," W.James Antle III writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"Before he became that fellow whose hearing aid malfunctioned during debates, Thompson was best known for cutting taxes, promoting school choice and, above all, proving that welfare reform works," Mr. Antle said.

"In fact, conservatives once hoped Thompson would run for president, if only to save the party from listless, reform-averse pols like Bob Dole. But by the time he finally took the plunge, his moment had long passed. The issues he championed as governor of Wisconsin seemed less pressing to post-9/11 Republicans, and he never particularly distinguished himself as secretary of Health and Human Services."

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