- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reid’s vow

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed yesterday to block former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson from becoming attorney general if President Bush nominates him to replace Alberto R. Gonzales.

Congressional and administration officials have described Mr. Olson as a leading contender for the job as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, but Mr. Reid declared: “Ted Olson will not be confirmed” by the Senate.

“He’s a partisan, and the last thing we need as an attorney general is a partisan,” Mr. Reid told Reuters news agency in a brief hallway interview on Capitol Hill.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Tony Snow, amid word that Mr. Bush was nearly ready to pick a new attorney general, told reporters, “We don’t have a decision yet.”

Democratic growls

Senate Republicans yesterday predicted a tough fight if President Bush nominates former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson to be attorney general.

“It would be a dicey vote,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

There has been no indication that Mr. Bush has settled on Mr. Olson, or that he is even a leading candidate to succeed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose last day on the job is tomorrow, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Olson’s name has been frequently mentioned, which alarms Democrats still angry that Mr. Olson successfully represented Mr. Bush before the Supreme Court in the contested 2000 election.

Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a former Judiciary Committee chairman, said he talked with about 10 Democrats about Mr. Olson and that some made noises, if not outright threats, about blocking his nomination.

“I have been warned by a number of Democrats that they’re not going to let that happen,” Mr. Hatch said of an Olson confirmation. If the White House thinks Mr. Olson would sail through the Senate, Mr. Hatch said, “then they don’t understand the people up here.”

Conservatives brushed off the Democrats’ warnings, and Mr. Hatch and Mr. Sessions predicted Mr. Olson would survive the confirmation process, however rocky.

Wendy Long, counsel for the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, said Democrats want to declare victory without having to fight and appear to be obstructionists.

“They would love to be able to say they scared the White House out of nominating Olson,” she said. “At this point, if Bush nominates anyone other than Olson, they will take credit for it.”

Petraeus’ reply

Gen. David H. Petraeus hit back yesterday at antiwar critics who accused him of being a White House stooge during two days of congressional testimony about the war in Iraq.

As Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker prepared to deliver their appraisal to lawmakers Monday, the left-wing group MoveOn.org took out a full-page New York Times advertisement to denounce “General Betray Us.”

At a press conference following the grueling sessions before Congress, Gen. Petraeus said an old friend had sent him a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” which speaks of treating “those two impostors,” triumph and disaster, just the same.

“I took some strength, I think, from that,” the four-star general said.

“Needless to say, to state the obvious, I disagree with the message of those who are exercising the First Amendment right [to free speech] that generations of soldiers have sought to preserve for Americans.

“Some of it was just flat, completely wrong. The rest was at least more than arguable,” Gen. Petraeus said of the ad, which coincided with some Democratic lawmakers’ claims that the general was not an independent voice on Iraq.

The two days of congressional hearings were interrupted by screams from left-wing activists, including from the Code Pink feminist group, accusing Gen. Petraeus of being a “war criminal” who was being less than honest with the public.

At the press conference, Mr. Crocker acknowledged lawmakers’ frustration with the halting pace of change in strife-torn Iraq, but said he had come away from the hearings “somewhat encouraged,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“I’ve got to get back to my day job [in Baghdad], and I’m actually looking forward to it,” he added to laughter.

Tax enthusiasts

“The Democrats are on the march, the tax march that is,” Amity Shlaes writes at Bloomberg.com.

Charles Rangel, the New York congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is talking about ‘the mother of all reforms,’ a plan that is said to include raising the capital-gains tax rate for many investors. Back in July, presidential candidate John Edwards proposed a return to the 28 percent rate that the country hasn’t seen in more than a decade,” the writer said.

“Other Democrats are making similar points by arguing that the 20 percentage-point spread between the capital-gains rate at 15 percent, and the income tax, at 35 percent, represents a problem. Ron Wyden, Democratic senator from Oregon, and Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, have been trying out the idea of a 35 percent tax on capital gains, on the theory that this income is no different from regular wages.

“This leap to action is no surprise. Democrats instinctually veer left at the end of a recovery and at the beginning of primary season, and right now we are in one of those situations, if not both. In the name of recovery or reform, they back projects that are unrealistic and that hurt the economy.”

MoveOn.org hiring

Fresh from its “betray us” attack on Gen. David H. Petraeus, MoveOn.org is now looking to add new employees.

“MoveOn’s starting a fellowship program — four short-term paid positions,” the online liberal group declared in an e-mail to its members yesterday.

“For the first time, we’re hiring MoveOn fellows: five-month paid positions working alongside our top campaigners and organizers on the most important issues of our times.

“Whether you’re a recent college grad or a movement veteran looking for a change, we’re looking for a few great folks who are passionate, innovative, and ready to move progressive politics.”

The e-mail directs recipients to a Web page — https://pol.moveon.org/fellowship — urging supporters “to apply by September 21st, or pass this e-mail along to friends who might be interested.”

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

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