- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2001

Lear jet liberals
Centrist Democrats are aghast as wealthy liberals such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mario Cuomo and national party Chairman Terry McAuliffe fly down to Puerto Rico to lend support for booting the Navy out of its Vieques island training grounds, the New York Times reports.
President Bush already has announced that the Navy will quit Vieques in May 2003. But Mr. McAuliffe demands that the United States withdraw immediately. "This is a civil rights issue," he said.
Sen. Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat, thinks Mr. McAuliffe has it all wrong. "It's a military preparedness issue," Mr. Cleland said.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he feels sympathy for the people of Vieques but opposes calls to leave the island immediately.
"We can't afford to send our men and women into harm's way without the proper training," Mr. Reyes said.
Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas Democrat, was dismayed by Mr. McAuliffe's words and actions. "He may be doing this at the expense of other Democrats," Mr. Ortiz said. "We do not want to be seen as anti-military because we are not."
Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi Democrat, said many Democrats see the Vieques issue as a way of winning over Hispanic voters even if it hurts military preparedness.
"That's pandering of the worst sort," Mr. Taylor told reporter Raymond Hernandez. "It's one of the reasons that I've gone out of my way as a Democrat to say that the views expressed by Terry McAuliffe and some of my colleagues are wrong."

Talk about recycling
Earlier this year, when Democrats mounted what turned out to be a futile campaign against President Bush's tax-cut plan, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle held a photo opportunity on Capitol Hill that featured a Lexus and a muffler.
Under the Bush tax plan, the rich would get a Lexus and everyone else would get a muffler, the Democrats warned.
Mr. Gephardt must have liked the analogy because he resurrected it Thursday in what turned out to be a futile argument against a patients' bill of rights favored by Mr. Bush and most Republican legislators.
"If this bill passes, the HMO lobbyists will get to drive off in shiny new Lexuses, while the rest of the American people will get a muffler," Mr. Gephardt declared at a news conference.

Hastert's magic touch
"Democrats who once quipped that they'd miss Newt Gingrich had no idea how right they were. Speaker Dennis Hastert has proven to be a tougher foe than they ever imagined," Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot writes.
"That's the big story this [past] week, as Mr. Hastert's Republican House majority piled up victories that weren't supposed to happen. It passed President Bush's energy plan more or less intact, including Alaskan oil and gas drilling. It also struck a deal on HMO regulation that united Republicans and left Dick Gephardt sputtering," Mr. Gigot said.
"Add those to a six-month list of House accomplishments that include the tax cut, a cloning ban, modest education reform, faith-based welfare, and the delicious demise of campaign-finance reform at the reformers' own hands. Not bad for a six-vote majority."

Another dream dies
"For months, the most cherished notion of Democrats, the media, liberal interest groups, and the permanent Beltway establishment has been that President Bush could no longer govern from the right," Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
"Vermont Sen. James Jeffords' noisy defection had shifted the balance of power in Washington away from Bush. His clout on issues big and small would be lost, moderate Republicans on Capitol Hill would bolt, his popularity would plummet — all unless he scooted to the left," it was thought.
"Bush stubbornly refused. So what has happened? He's regained control of a good chunk of the national agenda, the moderate revolt fizzled, and his popularity is rising. Now there's a new conventional wisdom: Bush isn't a political cripple after all."

Hearts aflutter
"Houston City Councilman Orlando Sanchez is setting GOP hearts aflutter in his race for mayor of the nation's third-largest city," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column."Sanchez, whose grandfather was the Spanish voice of the Astros baseball team for many years, is attracting a lot of state and national GOP support in his effort to defeat lackluster incumbent Mayor Lee Brown, the former New York City police commissioner and national drug czar who was carpetbagged into office six years ago. If he wins, Sanchez would become the city's first Hispanic mayor and the nation's most important urban Republican."

False assumption
Columnist David Broder of The Washington Post points to his newspaper's latest poll to suggest that the Bush tax cut is less than popular with the public.
"Only three out of eight in the poll think the tax cut will help the economy," Mr. Broder writes.
However, independent pollster Scott Rasmussen says The Post made the mistake of assuming that the approximately 40 percent who said the tax cut would have no effect on the economy would be happier if the money remained in Washington.
Mr. Rasmussen, whose overall results were virtually identical to the Post poll, probed deeper. "Among those who believe the president's policy will have no impact on the economy, 69 percent said that the tax cuts were either too small or the right size," Mr. Rasmussen found. "As if that wasn't enough, 51 percent of that same group believes that federal income taxes should be cut again next year. Only 29 percent disagree.
"Overall, among all adults, 55 percent think taxes should be cut again next year and 72 percent believe the tax cuts were either too small or about right."

Not a syllable
"When an ABC News/Washington Post poll in early June showed President Bush's job approval level had fallen to 55 percent, it led both 'World News Tonight' and 'Good Morning America.' But week, when the same survey discovered approval for Bush's job performance had risen to 59 percent, neither 'World News Tonight' nor 'Good Morning America' uttered a syllable about it," the Media Research Center reports.
Lott staying put
Sen. Trent Lott denies having any plans to run for governor of Mississippi, contrary to speculation last week by a political pundit in his home state.
"No. That was some bizarre scenario written by a guy that generally doesn't do fiction," the Mississippi Republican and Senate minority leader told reporters Friday in Washington, referring to Bill Minor, a columnist for the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.
"I considered in 1987 running for governor, and I got into what exactly is the governor's authority and his ability to get things done are in Mississippi — they're very limited," Mr. Lott said. "The legislature runs the state of Mississippi. The speaker is more powerful than the governor. While I love the state and I'm trying to help the state project a positive image, this is where I belong, this is what I enjoy. I have no plans to run for governor."

Burrito brothers
"So where did normally Democratic union bigs watch last week's energy vote in the House? Nowhere near labor friend Rep. Dick Gephardt's office," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Instead, they snacked on burritos with the 'Hammer,' House GOP Whip Tom DeLay. And it won't be the last time," Mr. Bedard said. "Union officials and Republican sources say the two sides are hatching plans to team up on other job-creation issues."

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