- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007

Inventive candidate

Mitt Romney has made it clear “that when it comes to nimble and inventive maneuvering, he’ll be the candidate to beat” for the Republican presidential nomination, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes.

“Last Monday, the Romney campaign held its first major fund-raising event, a high-powered call-a-thon that pulled in $6.5 million. It demolished not only the modern record for political donations raised in a single day, but the paradigm of what a campaign fund-raiser can be,” Mr. Jacoby said.

“Instead of inviting several hundred supporters to a $1,000-a-head dinner, Romney invited several hundred political and financial all-stars — eminentoes like Gov. Matt Blunt of Missouri and [EBay Chief Executive] Meg Whitman — to spend a day working their Rolodexes and dialing for dollars. Unlike a typical boiler-room operation run out of a hole-in-the-wall, Romney’s ‘National Call Day’ was staged in a giant convention center, with old and new media on hand to record all the action.

“All in all, it was a remarkable display of smarts and organization. It suggested, as Boston blogger Dean Barnett put it, ‘that the Romney campaign, like his business career, will be marked by innovation. … As he has done throughout his career, Mitt Romney will build a better mousetrap.’ ”

Leftist literature

The modern-day literature department at American universities is an insular world where “Jane Austen was a feminist subversive whose novels express her rage against the patriarchy,” where “Stalin was valiantly struggling to turn the Soviet Union into a democracy” and where “Shakespeare wrote ‘Macbeth’ to domesticate women.”

So says Elizabeth Kantor, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature,” who addressed an audience of about 65 Friday afternoon at the monthly gathering of the Conservative Women’s Network at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“Literary education has been politicized by the left” with race, gender and Freudian theories and the largely discredited Marxist labor theory of value, she said at the luncheon, co-hosted by the Herndon-based Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

Professors are increasingly blinded by their politically correct lenses, and, as a result, authors traditionally held in high esteem are unceremoniously relegated to the trash bin of literature as “dead white males,” says Mrs. Kantor, who boasts a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree from Catholic University in Washington.

“The real shame and the real danger” for students from this “leftist monopoly” by the deconstructionists and postmodernists who dominate collegiate literature departments and lock out other views, she said, is “not what they’re getting; it’s what they’re missing” in the way of classic literature and the “insights into human nature” of Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Chaucer and others.

But the answer is not a takeover of university literature departments by the right, even if that were possible, Mrs. Kantor says, but rather simply to free up literature so it can “speak for itself.”

Party time

Prayers and parties highlighted the Sunday before inauguration day in Montgomery, Ala., with Republican Gov. Bob Riley calling for prayer before his big day today and Democrats taking their turn in the inaugural spotlight with parties last night.

Mr. Riley held a prayer breakfast yesterday morning with about 700 people — a repeat of how he began his first inauguration four years ago. The churchlike event at a Montgomery hotel featured upbeat gospel music and three ministers.

Mr. Riley, who began his first term by asking Alabamians to pray for him, used the prayer breakfast to ask for more, the Associated Press reports.

“There are times when you absolutely can feel those prayers. Patsy and I talked about it,” he said, referring to his wife. “At strange times, you’ll be riding down the road, but you can actually feel the people of Alabama praying. That’s what gives me an advantage over every other governor, I believe, in America.”

Today, the inaugural spotlight will be on Mr. Riley, who will speak from the Capitol steps about his goals for a second term.

Spy spat

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday said the Pentagon and CIA are not violating people’s rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of terrorism or espionage suspects in the United States.

National security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terrorism and spy investigations without a judge’s approval or grand jury subpoena.

“The Defense Department gets involved because we’ve got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets,” Mr. Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The Department of Defense has legitimate authority in this area. This is an authority that goes back three or four decades. It was reaffirmed in the Patriot Act,” he said. “It’s perfectly legitimate activity. There’s nothing wrong with it or illegal. It doesn’t violate people’s civil rights.”

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat, the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, yesterday promised that his panel would take a careful look at those claims.

“Any expansion by the department into intelligence collection, particularly on U.S. soil, is something our committee will thoroughly review,” Mr. Reyes said, according to the Associated Press.

“We want our intelligence professionals to have strong tools that will enable them to interrupt the planning process of our enemies and to stop attacks against our country,” he said in a statement. “But in doing so, we also want those tools to comply fully with the law and the Constitution.”

A major snub

“There’s a simple reason the Washington establishment, Democrats, and the press hate President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq: He spurned their advice,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“He ordered a troop increase, not the first phase of a withdrawal. He didn’t echo Democrats like Sen. Joe Biden and suggest the war in Iraq is lost. The thrust of his nationally televised speech last week was that we can still win. He mostly rejected the findings of the Iraq Study Group. And he refused — in fact, he’s emphatically opposed — to engage Iran and Syria in talks. Nor did he go along with calls to abandon democracy as the fundamental goal of his foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East,” Mr. Barnes said.

“This was a major snub by Bush, a big-time thumbing of his nose at his critics and even at some of those who have advised him. It was the contrarian Bush in action again, much as he was in his first term — only he’s less popular now. But he’s still willing to go it alone as president.

“Republicans on Capitol Hill, normally his allies, are ‘nervous,’ a Bush aide says. ‘They’re skittish,’ says another aide. Democrats, of course, are opposed to the president’s plan with a fury and indignation that comes with knowing that public opinion is running their way on Iraq.”

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

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