- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Running left

“It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote in this space that, in the argument as to whether the Democratic contest for president is a two-person or a three-person race, I was a member of the ‘John Edwards is in the Democratic top tier’ camp,” Stuart Rothenberg says in Roll Call.

“I argued his strength in Iowa, clear message and personal appeal make the former North Carolina senator a serious contender for the Democratic nomination, though not quite the equal of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) in the Democratic sweepstakes,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“I see no reason to change that view, but I’ll admit I’m scratching my head more often at Edwards’ seemingly insatiable desire to run to the left — far to the left — of everyone in the Democratic race with the possible exception of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio).

“Increasingly, political observers are whispering that Edwards seems to be running much as former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) did in 2004, wooing organized labor and recycling a class-warfare message. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Edwards’ message is entirely new — in the previous cycle, his ‘two Americas’ theme addressed issues of class and race as well — only that, of the credible candidates, Edwards has filled the ‘Gephardt slot’ in the current race.

“While almost everyone has nice things to say about the former Missouri lawmaker personally, and Gephardt has his share of loyalists, he finished a disappointing fourth in Iowa last time, something Edwards presumably hopes to avoid.”

False presumption

“Television anchors must compress complicated subjects into simple sentences, but on Friday night NBC’s Brian Williams delivered too simple of a presumption when he set up a story, on Rudy Giuliani’s latest attempt to explain his abortion position, by trying to paint Republicans as out of the mainstream as he asserted that ‘most Americans believe a woman has a right to an abortion. Most Republicans do not.’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“While it’s true that most don’t want abortion completely banned under all circumstances, the majority favor restrictions on such a ‘right,’ and only 16 percent, according to a February Washington Post poll, want it ‘legal in all cases.’ And interestingly, the latest abortion poll on the PollingReport.com’s abortion page, a May 4-6 survey by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, discovered that 50 percent identified themselves as ‘pro-life,’ compared to a minority of 45 percent who called themselves ‘pro-choice.’ NBC’s own late-April poll found that, by a fairly solid 53 to 34 percent, most agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal law banning ‘partial-birth’ abortions.”

Edging closer

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday there is a very good chance he’ll get into the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but he won’t decide until after September.

“I think right now that it is a great possibility,” Mr. Gingrich said. “I don’t want to get into all this stuff. I want to focus on what we have to do to make America successful.”

Mr. Gingrich said he plans to hold a workshop on solutions facing the country in September, after which he’ll make a decision on whether to launch a presidential bid, the Associated Press reports.

He made the comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Gingrich left Congress when Republicans lost seats in the 1998 elections after a campaign that highlighted then-President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Asked about former first lady and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s White House prospects, Mr. Gingrich said:

“I think she has a very good chance of winning the presidency. … I think unless Republicans are as committed to very fundamental change in Washington that they will almost certainly lose the election.”

Curbing speech

“A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows 6 in 10 Americans think the Democratic Congress ‘hasn’t brought much change,’ “ John Fund writes at www.Opinion Journal.com.

“Eager to change this impression, the Democrats are frantically trying to pass legislation before Memorial Day. First on the agenda is a bill restricting lobbying, which is heading for the House floor with lightning speed. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to pass it [today], sending it to the full House for a final vote next Tuesday or Wednesday,” Mr. Fund said.

“When a bill moves that quickly, you can bet someone will try to make some last-minute mischief. Hardly anyone objects to the legislation’s requirement that former lawmakers wait two years instead of one before lobbying Congress. Ditto with bans on lobbying by congressional spouses and restrictions on sitting members of Congress negotiating contracts with private entities for future employment.

“But the legislation may be amended on the floor to restrict grass-roots groups that encourage citizens to contact members of Congress. The amendment, pushed by Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, would require groups that organize such grass-roots campaigns to register as ‘lobbyists’ and file detailed quarterly reports on their donors and activities. The law would apply to any group that took in at least $100,000 in any given quarter for ‘paid communications campaigns’ aimed at mobilizing the public.”

Anti-trade party

“Last week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Charles Rangel showed genuine leadership by making a deal with the Bush administration to ease the passage of new trade pacts. But they did so from within a party that is going seriously awry on this issue. Too many Democrats, including most of their presidential candidates, simply wish the subject would go away,” Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria writes.

“This is a bad strategy for the party and for the country. Bill Clinton’s most important political achievement was to transform the image of the Democratic Party into one that was in favor of growth, markets and trade. Clinton supported and articulated a powerful defense for the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and commerce with China, among many such issues. He spoke confidently of the promise and opportunities of a globalized world. When you talk with elected Democrats now, they could not sound more different. Far too many of them are parochial, pessimistic and paranoid about the global economy,” Mr. Zakaria said.

He added: “The current Democratic approach to these issues is misguided. Loading trade pacts with environmental and labor standards is ineffective, unless the aim is to sink them. It will not really change the fact of low-wage competition from poor countries. And, most important, it doesn’t really help American workers to prosper in the long term.”

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

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