- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Democratic angst

"Democrats are learning a tough lesson these days the true meaning of losing the presidency," political analyst Charlie Cook writes in National Journal.
"Superficial presidential job-approval numbers make it appear that President Bush is doing pretty well. Beneath the surface are even more troubling poll numbers for Democrats numbers that indicate their party for the first time in years has fallen behind the Republican Party on several key measures of public support," Mr. Cook said.
"For example, a national poll taken in the first week of March by one of the Democratic Party's best-known polling firms shows just how much the political landscape has shifted since the November election. That poll of 998 registered voters found attitudinal changes far beyond what is measured by the presidential job-approval ratings in media-sponsored polls. The Democratic poll, which probably won't be made public, is causing party leaders considerable angst.
"The poll question that many members of Congress watch most closely asks whether the surveyed voter intends to support the Republican nominee or the Democratic nominee in the next congressional election. According to the recent Democratic poll, Republicans pulled 5 percentage points ahead on this generic congressional test question with 47 percent of registered voters indicating a preference for the Republican candidate and 42 percent backing the Democrat."
Republicans also have moved into a tie with Democrats in party identification 37 percent each with independents leaning Republican. Survey respondents also gave Republicans the edge on education, which Mr. Cook called "an amazing turnaround."

Religious appeal

President Bush paused yesterday amid tense diplomacy with China to pray with religious broadcasters and to promote his plan to give federal money to religious charities.

He met with the executive board of the National Religious Broadcasters Association in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

He was joined by Attorney General John Ashcroft and John DiIulio, director of the White House office on church-based community programs, the Associated Press reported.

Some Christian conservatives are among the critics of Mr. Bush's proposal, fearing that federal funds may go to non-mainstream groups and that accepting the money could have a deleterious impact on churches' religious activities.

The group prayed together at the end of the meeting, participants said. Shortly afterward, Mr. Bush went out to the Rose Garden to deliver a statement about a U.S. Navy plane and its crew, which are being detained by China.

Janet Parshall, president of the Salem Radio Network in Washington, said that in their prayer, her group "asked that the Lord would keep the president humble" as he guides the nation.

"We expressed our gratitude that righteousness which is just rightness has returned to this office," said David W. Clark, president of Family Net TV Networks of Fort Worth, Texas.

Michael Little, president of the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, said Mr. Bush appealed to the broadcasters for "greater understanding and the potential of more clarity than what some of the media are currently providing" of his plan.

"The president made it very clear that he wants to empower people to listen to the Lord, he said, and capture the compassion that is there," Mr. Little said.

Daschle's double game

"Trent Lott, the Republican Senate leader, and Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, both want to kill the McCain-Feingold campaign-reform legislation. The difference is Lott has the courage to oppose it openly, while Daschle is playing a double game that would make British master spy Kim Philby blush," New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.
"Even as he postures about his support for campaign finance reform and votes for it at every turn, Daschle is working diligently behind the scenes to kill the McCain-Feingold bill," Mr. Morris said.
"In private, Daschle has concluded that the McCain-Feingold bill would vitiate his party's major financial strength" namely, soft money.
"How will Daschle kill a bill he professes to support? His first hope was a Bush veto. No such luck. The president has made clear that he's not going to take the rap for stopping this law.
"Daschle's fallback position is to let the bill go to a Senate-House conference, where the two parties will set up a pas de deux designed to defeat the bill without the blood being on the hands of either. Republicans will insert a 'poison pill' a provision that will give Democrats an excuse to oppose the final package. Democrats will scream in public but wink in private, because the poison pill will let them off the hook of having to back McCain-Feingold.
"The best poison pill available would be an amendment to prohibit unions from giving some of a member's dues money to political candidates without the approval of that member… ."

A vast conspiracy?

An attorney representing former first brother Roger Clinton on a drunken-driving charge says Hermosa Beach, Calif., police targeted his client for a traffic stop because of who he is.
Mark Geragos, appearing in court in Torrance, Calif., Monday to ask for a continuance of Mr. Clinton's arraignment, said in an interview that an officer followed Mr. Clinton's Ford Expedition, recognizing him as someone involved in an earlier incident at the Lighthouse bar on an early Saturday morning in February.
"They obviously knew who he was," Mr. Geragos said. "I believe he was targeted. I have no doubt that that's what happened."
A Hermosa Beach police spokesman called the charge "patently absurd," Copley News Service reports.
"We don't target people because of who they are," Officer Paul Wolcott said. "Clinton was pulled over because of his driving."
Mr. Clinton, the younger half-brother of the former president, did not appear before Judge Jesse Rodriguez, who scheduled his arraignment for April 30. The 44-year-old singer and Torrance resident is charged with misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, exceeding the 0.08 percent blood alcohol content while operating a vehicle, and disturbing the peace by challenging someone to a fight in a public place.

Money talks

"With Rep. J. Joseph Moakley planning to retire from Congress next year, the [Massachusetts] congressional delegation is scrambling to find a way to retain his seat on the powerful House Rules Committee," the Boston Globe reports.
Members of the delegation are all Democrats.
"One idea is to have Moakley make a personal appeal to the House Democratic leader, Richard A. Gephardt, asking him to pass the seat on to Rep. James P. McGovern. The Worcester Democrat was a longtime Moakley staff member before he won his own congressional seat in 1996," the newspaper said.
"The inducement? Have Moakley donate the bulk of the $540,000 remaining in his federal campaign account to the Democrats, so they can use it to help elect their candidates nationwide in 2002."

Fund-raising weapon

The Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, a pro-choice group, has sent out a new fund-raising letter that warns, "The radical right has a new weapon. It's not so-called 'partial-birth' abortion bans … or mandatory waiting periods … or onerous regulations on abortion clinics. It's the president of the United States." The last sentence was in bold face.

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