- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2001

The Democrats' task

"It's starting to get monotonous. Once again, House Democrats are looking to the next election as a good opportunity to win a majority in the House of Representatives. They are right to do so, considering that they need to gain just five seats to make Rep. Richard Gephardt the next speaker," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

"However, although the midterm trend of losses by the president's party suggests that the Democrats have a serious shot at attaining 218 seats, there are other reasons (which for the moment are more compelling) to believe that the Republicans won't give up their House majority," Mr. Rothenberg said.

Although the president's party has lost House seats in 33 out of 35 midterm elections since the Civil War, there is an another trend that favors Republicans: The Democrats have picked up House seats in three straight elections, and no party has gained seats in four straight elections since World War II, the columnist noted.

"There is, of course, a reason why it is difficult for one party to gain House seats in four consecutive elections. Weak incumbents normally get weeded out with each successive election, finally leaving the beleaguered party with a solid core and ready to bounce back after voter sentiment turns around… .

"Finally, in order to win a House majority, the Democrats will probably have to overcome modest but important losses through redistricting. Those losses, though they may only be in the range of two to four seats, are an additional impediment to Democratic control of the next House."

Advice for Bill

"I refuse to join the thundering herd of disgusted liberal columnists and irate Democratic politicians in their stampede to castigate our former president for appearing to sell a pardon to a fugitive billionaire," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"That's because I feel no sudden need to 'get right on Clinton.' As longtime enablers rush to kick him when he's down in the polls and out of office, my contrarian impulse is to come to his defense," Mr. Safire said.

The columnist advised Mr. Clinton to go on the offense with, for example, the following argument:

"If you're ashamed of my standards, the fault is yours, not mine. Say this: I stonewalled and intimidated witnesses and gave false testimony under oath and

copped a plea, didn't I? So why are you kicking about my denials now? I got huge contributions from my Asian connection, then reversed my China policy and got away with it, didn't I? So why are you whining about bribery now?"

Mr. Safire added: "That last defense is Clinton's clincher. Having applauded his shamelessness through eight years, only hypocrites among his steadfast supporters can complain about his shaming the presidency on his way out."

Brother Bill

"Having made himself undesirable white trash for office space in midtown Manhattan with his personal quirks and political pardons, the former president fled uptown," Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson writes.

"During his impeachment he found refuge in black churches, and now, having again rolled craps with white America, he selected 125th Street for his post-presidency office. Clinton said, 'Harlem is the perfect place for me to be. I'm close to the Apollo Theatre. I'm close to soul food. I feel like I'm home.'

"Harlem responded in kind, with crowds chanting, 'We want Bill!' Individual women screamed 'I love you!' Sylvia Woods of Sylvia's soul-food restaurant told reporters Clinton's arrival 'has just as much impact as the first time the astronauts took off.' Percy Sutton, the former Manhattan borough president and Harlem business giant, said Clinton's presence would so increase investment and real estate values in Harlem that 'it would be the height of my dreams.'

"To see how delusional this all gets, it helps to remember that Sutton and Sylvia's also hosted a Harlem welcome-home rally in 1995 for convicted rapist Mike Tyson, who had just gotten out of prison. Six years ago, Harlem was praising an ex-con. Today, Harlem welcomes with open arms a man who feigns being our brother, yet has sent more brothers to prison than any president in the history of the United States."

Shuster nominated

Bill Shuster, son of former Pennsylvania Rep. Bud Shuster, has won the right to carry the Republican banner in the May 15 special election to succeed his father.

The elder Mr. Shuster resigned from Congress earlier this year when, because of a six-year term limit, he was forced to give up the chairmanship of the Transportation Committee.

The younger Mr. Shuster, an automobile dealer, won 69 of the 133 delegates at the 9th District Republican nominating convention Saturday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Five others divided 64 delegates and another five hopefuls received no votes at all.

He will now face Democrat H. Scott Conklin, a Centre County commissioner, and Green Party nominee Alanna Harzock in the heavily Republican district.

Rocking the boat

"The president's nomination of Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci to be ambassador to Canada may force several pew-loads of 'family values' groups to choose between lofty principles and political get-realism," National Journal reports.

"Cellucci alienated some of these very groups by approving the allocation of $1.5 million a year to gay organizations within the commonwealth's public school system and by refusing to meet with conservative activists last year after they taped a controversial, state-sponsored talk about homosexuality," the magazine said.

"Groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council, which opposed President Clinton's nomination of gay-rights advocate James Hormel for the American Embassy in Luxembourg, face political pressure not to rock the Republican boat."

Another Kennedy

Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, the 36-year-old ninth child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy, is the latest member of that clan to be touted for political office.

Political speculators are eyeing Mr. Kennedy to fill the shoes of Rep. Joe Moakley, Massachusetts Democrat, who announced last week that he suffers from terminal cancer and will not seek re-election.

Max Kennedy "would be a very strong candidate and a very qualified candidate," state Democratic Chairman Phillip W. Johnston told the Boston Globe. "I would not be surprised at all to see him run."

However, a Kennedy candidacy might run aground against political heavyweights such as state House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. And what's worse, brother Joseph Kennedy is considered a possibility to run for governor in 2002.

"It's just sort of a rule," an anonymous Democratic operative told Globe reporter Steven Wilmsen. "You don't want too many Kennedys at one time."

Widow vs. widow

"Publicly, she's not interested, but Missouri Republicans are pushing Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to take on new Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan in a special election in 2002," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"How to neutralize the widow issue with Carnahan, whose husband died near the end of a successful bid to oust former Sen. John Ashcroft, the new attorney general? Emerson is the widow of former Rep. Bill Emerson and won his seat in 1996."

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