Inside Politics

Slowing Nussle

President Bush’s nominee to run the White House budget office, former Republican Rep. Jim Nussle, appears to be a long shot to win confirmation before the Senate’s summer break.

The Senate Budget Committee approved his nomination by a 22-1 vote yesterday, but one committee member,Sen. Bernard Sanders, said he would hold up the nomination. The Vermont independent’s threat of a filibuster is enough to delay action until September at the earliest.

“President Bush is completely out of touch with the economic realities facing working families,” Mr. Sanders said. “He needs a budget director who will make him face the facts, not his fantasies.”

The committee chairman, Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, said that at least one other senator also has placed a procedural block on Mr. Nussle’s nomination, the Associated Press reports.

Edwards vs. Fox

FormerSen. John Edwards criticized Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday for taking more than $20,000 in donations from News Corp. officials, arguing that the company’s Fox News Channel has a right-wing bias and Democrats should avoid it.

Mr. Edwards led the Democratic candidates’ boycott of Fox’s plans to host a Democratic presidential debate. Now he is objecting to News Corp.’s purchase of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. and highlighting the relationships that Mrs. Clinton and other rivals have with the company’s executives.

“The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party,” Mr. Edwards said.

He challenged his rivals to refuse contributions from executives of News Corp. and return any they had already received. The Edwards campaign sent an e-mail to supporters with the subject line “Unfair and Unbalanced,” asking them to donate in support of his stand against the company.

The campaign timed the challenge to come two days before Mr. Edwards, Mrs. Clinton and other candidates are scheduled to appear at a convention of left-wing bloggers, who applauded Mr. Edwards‘ revolt against the Fox-sponsored debate in March.

The Spitzer scandal

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is now traveling the state trying to put a scandal behind him that risks enveloping his administration. It’s going to be a hard task,” Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican majority leader of the New York State Senate, wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

“Here’s what we know, thanks to some enterprising reporting by the New York Post and an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo: Two close advisers to the governor apparently used the New York State Police to carry out a political smear campaign against me by creating documents designed to generate negative press reports about me. And it nearly worked,” Mr. Bruno said.

“Now, with an outline of what really happened made public, there is only one way forward for Mr. Spitzer. He needs to support a full airing of the truth. That support must include publicly testifying under oath, and making advisers available to publicly testify under oath, as part of an independent investigation that should not be limited to a panel of his appointees. It would be best to appoint an independent counsel to look into the issue. …

“It is troubling that a governor who campaigned on ethics, openness and accountability, is now trying to sweep the ‘Troopergate’ matter under the rug. But it is not surprising. This is not an isolated incident. It is just the most serious example of a pattern of behavior that raises very serious questions about the governor’s judgment, temperament and ability to govern New York State.”

An Obama fan

The Episcopal Church’s first openly homosexual bishop endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president yesterday, even though they differ on some issues concerning homosexuals.

“Frankly, I don’t think there’s any major candidate that is where we in the gay community would hope they would be on our issues,” BishopV. Gene Robinson said in a conference call with reporters. “That being said, I would say the senator has been enormously supportive of our issues. We appreciate his support for civil unions.”

The continuing repercussions from Mr. Robinson’s 2003 election as bishop of New Hampshire threaten to break up the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part. His supporters hail him as a role model and civil rights pioneer.

He stressed that his endorsement was as an individual, not as bishop, the Associated Press reports.

“I will not be speaking about the campaign from the pulpit or at any church function,” he said. “That is completely inappropriate. But as a private citizen, I will be at campaign events and help in any way that I can.”

Mr. Robinson said he hopes to persuade Mr. Obama to embrace homosexual “marriage.”

‘Wrath of CAIR’

“Welcome to the address that the Council on American-Islamic Relations does not want you to hear,” Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org said yesterday, opening a speech to the Young America’s Foundation’s national student conference that caused CAIR to send a letter Wednesday demanding that YAF cancel the speech.

Mr. Spencer called the CAIR letter “just the latest example of a larger attempt to silence critics and those who say things about Islam and jihad that they don’t like. Look at the campaigns of intimidation that CAIR has carried out against Paul Harvey, the producers of Fox’s ‘24,’ National Review magazine and others who have said things CAIR doesn’t like. …

“This campaign of intimidation has had its effect,” Mr. Spencer told hundreds of college students gathered at George Washington University’s Marvin Center. Many mainstream media figures, even those who think of themselves as fearless conservatives, have not wanted to discuss the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify their actions. … They fear the wrath of CAIR.”

Mr. Spencer said CAIR “can sue me now, or sue the YAF, and try to silence me. But you won’t be able to sue or silence all the American people who are deeply concerned about what you are doing.”

Invading Chicago

The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to open a branch of his National Action Network in Chicago to target what he calls chronic police misconduct and a lack of political accountability.

It’s also the home turf of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, but the New York-based Mr. Sharpton says he sees no conflict, the Associated Press reports.

“There’s this outrageous notion that one black with a national profile and another black, [we’re] going to fight if we’re in the same town,” Mr. Sharpton said at a press conference Wednesday. “Every national civil rights group has a branch in New York — NAACP, Urban League, Rainbow/PUSH, all of them. And I don’t have a problem with anybody in town.

“So what is the controversy about me coming to Chicago?” the 52-year-old asked.

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

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