- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Convention mania

The competition already is under way for the right to host the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2004.

"Cities vying for the chance to host the political extravaganzas include Chicago, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Orlando and San Antonio. But Boston has gotten a head start," USA Today reports.

"Political, civic and business leaders from the city began the courtship last month by hosting a clambake for the Republican National Committee on the seaside terrace of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library. Everyone got a plush red lobster beanbag as a party favor and a twilight cruise on the harbor," reporter Richard Benedetto said.

"In the spirit of nonpartisanship, top Democrats were invited to a breakfast last Thursday in the Parkman House, overlooking the oldest public park in the country, Boston Common. Again, lobster beanbags all around."

While Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe says the race for his party's convention is "wide open," he expects Miami to go all-out to impress party bigwigs when the DNC meets there Sept. 13-15.

Because President Bush will make the final decision on where to hold the Republican convention, San Antonio and Houston have emerged as early favorites, Mr. Benedetto said. "Both cities have large populations of Hispanics, a group the GOP has targeted in upcoming elections."

The parties plan to name site-selection committees in January, with visits to bidding cities coming next summer. The winners are expected to be named in January 2003.

Surprise, surprise

Tobacco companies, after passing along the costs to smokers, have paid out $21 billion so far to states that sued for reimbursement of health care costs. But less than half of it has been used for health care, and only 5 percent to help Americans quit cigarettes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Instead, lawmakers in state after cash-strapped state have tapped the money for needs deemed more pressing: college scholarships in Michigan, new schools in Ohio, flood-control projects in North Dakota. Illinois used part of its money to give a tax rebate last year. Tennessee is spending every penny of its bounty to plug a budget gap," reporter Stephanie Simon writes.

"The trend alarms health care experts who say most states should be spending three to four times as much on anti-smoking campaigns if they hope to bring future tobacco-related medical costs under control. And it depresses those who fought a legal battle for years to get the settlement, only to see the funds, in their eyes, squandered."

The new 'Senator No'

"With Jesse Helms' retirement in 2003, the U.S. Senate may lose its 'Senator No.' But never fear — another solon is already doing her best to earn the moniker," the New York Post says.

"And it's about as ironic a successor to Helms as can be," the newspaper said in an editorial. "Meet the new Senator No: New York's own Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"During a career of three decades, Helms was tagged with the label because he turned out to be the sole opponent to so many bills and executive-branch nominations.

"Hillary Clinton has been in office for barely eight months, and already she stands head and shoulders above her colleagues as the most doctrinaire foe of George W. Bush's administration.

"Already, Clinton has voted against the confirmation of more Bush nominees than any other senator. For two Justice Department nominees, she was the only vote against confirmation.

"And much of her voting is hard to dismiss as politics-as-usual. Indeed, many of Hillary's actions seem to be motivated more by pique and a thirst for revenge than by principled ideology."

The newspaper added: "It would appear that New York's newest senator has taken the 'permanent offense/war room' culture of the Clinton White House and moved it to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue."

Religious Democrats

"A few days ago, an ordained minister launched a committee to explore a presidential campaign. A few weeks before that, his party's leader in the House implored colleagues to vote against a procedural rule 'in the name of God and common sense,'" observes John J. Pitney Jr., professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and author of "The Art of Political Warfare."

"If the people in question were Pat Robertson and Dick Armey, commentators would complain of GOP religious extremists. Alan Dershowitz would urge rejection of the party leader's position as 'a vote against fundamentalism' (his actual words in attacking Clinton's impeachment). But since these stories involved the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dick Gephardt, they've eluded the punditocracy's guns of August," Mr. Pitney said in a column at nationalreview.com.

"The silence is typical. Religious influence on the Democratic party ranks among the least-reported aspects of American politics. That influence has a long history. The Social Gospel philosophy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries inspired the settlement-house movement, which in turn supplied an important model for the New Deal. Since the 1930s, black churches have been a key power base for the party, producing political leaders such as Adam Clayton Powell and Andrew Young.

"Apart from Michael Dukakis, every Democratic presidential nominee of the past three decades has had visible religious roots. George McGovern and Walter Mondale were the sons of Methodist ministers, and both bore the mark of Social Gospel teachings. Jimmy Carter introduced the term 'born again' to the national press corps. Al Gore told a black Baptist group that life's purpose is 'to glorify God.' And of course, Bill Clinton had a thorough command of Scripture though he seemed to regard the more salacious passages as a 'how to' manual."

Absurd and feckless

"As the economy limps out of a quarter of zero growth, our solons are engaged in a great debate over their $160 billion budget surplus. Democrats contend it's too small; Republicans that it's just right," Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley writes.

"This is absurd. Worse, feckless, since the fortunes of 275 million Americans are involved. For decades if not centuries, economists of all stripes have taught that in a recession, a deficit is appropriate. The Keynesians (where have they gone?) argued that the deficit itself was the key to stimulating the economy. Classicists and supply-siders look for stimulus in tax cuts to improve incentives, and recognize that overcoming an economic pause justifies some borrowing. Just when the economy needs some help, the political class has been seized by cockamamie economics."

Liberal spin

Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center points out what he calls "the laughable extremes" to which the so-called mainstream news media are willing to go to discredit the Bush tax cut.

"Pushing the liberal spin to laughable extremes, the latest Newsweek 'Conventional Wisdom' box gives Bush a down arrow: 'Adios, surplus. When retired boomers dine on dog food, will they say thanks for that $600?'"

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