- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

PACs R Us
Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, refused to accept money from political action committees when he won his Senate seat three years ago. But the likely 2004 presidential candidate is now busy setting up his own PAC, the New York Times reports.
"The committee, the New American Optimists, will raise money that Mr. Edwards can then pass along to other Democratic politicians for their campaigns," reporter Philip Shenon writes. "The group will be led by Erskine B. Bowles, a North Carolina investment banker who was White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration."
Mr. Edwards had no comment on the formation of the PAC, but an aide to the senator told the paper that the Edwards PAC would accept no PAC money.
As for whether creation of the PAC places Mr. Edwards in an awkward position, the unidentified aide said his boss "can't play touch football when everyone else out there is playing tackle."

Of polls and pundits
"'Bush Gets Low Marks in Europe' proclaimed the Paris-based International Herald Tribune last week in reporting the results of a Pew Research poll it had commissioned.
The New York Times and The Washington Post, proud parents of the Trib, also gave the damning data prominent play, as indeed did other newspapers and wire services around the globe. Avuncular commentators opined that Europe's low opinion is a serious matter for the American president," Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan writes.
"But Pew's reputation for probity notwithstanding, this was only an opinion poll. It's amazing that the researchers could even unearth anyone to answer their questions at a time of the year when sensible Europeans have shed heavy thoughts and are enjoying the beaches and mountains.
In fact, the poll came up with a rather heavy proportion of 'no-opinion' respondents in Britain, Italy and France," Mr. Melloan said.
"Only in Germany did a substantial proportion of those questioned respond to the IHT's need to enliven the summer doldrums. A whopping 88 percent had an opinion on Mr. Bush's conduct of international policy and 66 percent were critical.
By contrast, 34 percent in laid-back Britain told the pollsters, in effect, to get lost, and only 49 percent gave Mr. Bush the raspberry. Maybe Germans have a lot more grievances than Brits and want to take them out on someone. Who better than George Bush?
"Yet contrary to much recent punditry, heavy majorities in all four countries felt that the U.S. and Europe are as close as ever, or even growing closer. Mr. Bush's decision to keep troops in the Balkans won strong support, as did his free-trade sentiments. The signs of continued Atlantic friendliness rather tangled up the IHT poll designers.
They apparently had assumed in advance that Europeans would say the two continents are becoming more estranged, so their follow-up questions were designed to tease out why this was happening. But opinions about why the U.S. and Europe are drifting apart lose some of their punch if they in fact aren't."

No criticism, please
An attorney for California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis has asked a state judge to block a TV ad criticizing Mr. Davis' handling of the energy crisis.
The judge was told that the D.C.-based American Taxpayers Alliance broke state law by not registering as a political organization with the secretary of state and that it must disclose the identities of its donors, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The judge "indicated he was leaning toward blocking broadcast of the ads," the newspaper said.
The group, which is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit, planned to spend $2 million on the ad, which does not mention any election or political rivals of Mr. Davis.
An attorney for the taxpayers group said it was an issue ad protected by the First Amendment.
Time magazine reports that Reliant Energy, a target of the governor's, is a major contributor to the American Taxpayers Alliance.

Clark to CNN
"Just when Arkansas political bigs figured that local-boy-done-good Wesley Clark was set to make a bid for public office, he's surprised them all by signing on as a military and current-affairs analyst with CNN," Paul Bedard writes in the Internet version of U.S. News & World Report's "Washington Whispers" column (usnews.com).
"Clark, a retired Army general who was one of the U.S. military bosses in Bosnia, is expected to be a regular on the cable network as it scrambles to recover viewers who've switched to Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Since retiring, Clark has been a fixture on the Arkansas political trail, speaking at key events normally reserved for campaigning pols.
That's led most state politicians to assume he's planning to run for Senate or governor. Clark, however, keeps them guessing. And not just about his future: folks don't even know if he's a Republican or Democrat."

Crisis of leadership
"An Al Sharpton race for the White House is yet another sign of the radical despair and crisis of leadership in black America," New York Post columnist Rod Dreher writes.
"The best-recognized black community spokesmen today are Jesse Jackson, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and Al Sharpton. What a sorry statement that is," Mr. Dreher said.
"Jackson is little more than a shakedown artist. He has turned the civil rights movement into a morally corrupt, but very lucrative enterprise.
"The NAACP's Mfume also appears to be feathering his own nest.
"His organization says the TV networks lack minority programming, but he has taped a pilot for a possible syndicated talk show to be produced, in part, by NBC.
"Now comes Sharpton," who represents victimology and separatism, the columnist said. "Al stands for the problem, not the solution."

Temporary gig
"It's not exactly the White House, but Doug Hattaway, spokesman for former Vice President Al Gore's failed presidential campaign, has landed a temporary gig, handling media for Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle," the Boston Globe reports.
"The Boston-based Hattaway, who once massaged media for New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, will serve as Daschle's communications director for a few months during the maternity leave of Ranit Schmelzer. Hattaway plans to return to [Boston] after that to start up his own consulting firm," the newspaper said.

Green growth
"Inspired by Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign, the Green Party is on the rise in Pennsylvania," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
"It has won state recognition as an official party, and is fielding 30 candidates in local elections this November for offices ranging from school board to mayor. The Greens are drawing new support from many liberal Democrats who believe their party has drifted rightward," reporter Thomas Fitzgerald writes.
Mr. Nader, the Green candidate, captured 103,392 Pennsylvania votes in November, more than 2 percent of the highest vote-getter's statewide total, and in more than 10 counties, meeting the state's threshold for recognition as a political party. The Constitution Party, the Libertarians and the Reform Party all fell short, the Inquirer said.


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