- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2001

Racial McCarthyism

Notice the "liberal two-step" being used against Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft and, by inference, against all conservatives, National Review editor Richard Lowry urges in an article in the magazine.
"New York senator Chuck Schumer has allowed he doesn't think Ashcroft is a racist, 'but at certain instances, I don't think he's shown enough sensitivity toward America's long and troubled history with race.' Activist Ralph Neas goes further: 'We do not contend that he is a racist. That's a straw man erected by his supporters.' Actually, it is a straw man erected by his detractors but that is a mere quibble. Neas finds Ashcroft unsuitable because of his 'extraordinary racial insensitivity.'
"There is a reason 'insensitivity' became the most famous watchword of campus political correctness. It was useful to campus liberals because its elasticity served to make anyone potentially guilty of it. 'Racism' is a word with a fairly precise meaning animus against individuals or groups based on race. The charge of racism is largely falsifiable, in that it can be evaluated in fairly objective terms (hence, its inconvenience to Ashcroft's critics even Pat Leahy must admit he never heard Ashcroft 'make a racist comment'). 'Insensitivity,' in contrast, is more subjective; it's a moving target that doesn't depend on any identifiable attitude on the part of the offender, but on the sensibilities of those taking offense," Mr. Lowry said.
"In the case of John Ashcroft, of course, it is black-activist groups ('civil rights groups' is a misnomer) that are offended. It is on the authority of their professed outrage or fear that the likes of Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt chary of calling Ashcroft a racist himself hang their anti-Ashcroft case. Watch the two-step at work: 'No one should doubt Mr. Ashcroft's sincerity [i.e., by any objective standard, he's not a racist],' Hunt writes. 'But neither should anyone doubt that collectively, to many African-Americans, [his] positions suggest an insensitivity, or even hostility.' "

Mikulski's complaint

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, filed a complaint at Friday's confirmation hearing for Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, who will have oversight of the Food and Drug Administration as secretary of Health and Human Services.
FDA Commissioner Jane E. Henney was called Thursday night and told to be out of her office by close of business Friday, Miss Mikulski told Mr. Thompson when he appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The Bush administration should not be politicizing agencies such as the FDA, she said. "I hope this dismissal is not the future of a battleground," she added, asking Mr. Thompson to look into the matter.
Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican and a member of the committee, told the hearing she could sympathize with Miss Henney's predicament.
As a political appointee in the Bush administration, Mrs. Collins said she was fired by fax "at 12:01 a.m. on Inauguration Day" by the Clinton administration.
"In a way, I envy Dr. Henney. She got the courtesy of a phone call instead of a fax," Mrs. Collins said.
Mr. Thompson later said he had been told that all Clinton administration political appointees were asked to resign Thursday night, but he was willing to review appointees such as Miss Henney if asked.


Robert Schlesinger, chief congressional correspondent for Voter.com, hears that Arkansas Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a former U.S. attorney, "is under serious consideration for the No. 2 spot at the John Ashcroft Justice Department."
"Hutchinson, whose older brother, Tim, is the Razorback State's senior senator, could be put through the same wringer that Ashcroft has become so familiar with over the last week," Mr. Schlesinger writes.
"Hutchinson gained national notoriety as one of the more visible House managers during President Clinton's impeachment trial, a fact that still makes Democratic partisans see red.
"The other bull's-eye on Hutchinson's back is his diploma from Bob Jones University, the school with controversial policies regarding Catholicism and interracial dating, among other things. Democrats have blasted Ashcroft for having spoken there. 'If Democrats had a problem confirming someone who visited the campus, I can't wait to see what they do to an alum,' one Democratic strategist said."

The tax debate

"Having drained any sense of morality out of the word 'values,' Clinton used his Thursday [farewell] speech to spin his own record in office. And so once again, it's the economy, stupid," syndicated columnist James Pinkerton writes.
"He warned against George W. Bush's proposed tax cut; that's a note he will no doubt strike again and again in his post-presidency. And he is well-advised to do so, in spite of the obviously softening economy, since it would be disastrous for Clinton's 'legacy' if Bush were to cut taxes and the economy were to rebound in 2001.
"Then people might think that maybe Clinton's 1993 tax increase wasn't quite the turning point in American history that the Arkansan makes it out to be.
"In fact, the economy only started booming after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, putting an end to Clinton's dreams of activist big government," Mr. Pinkerton said.

The latest strategy

"I suppose I should no longer be shocked by conventional wisdom among many Democrats," Andrew Sullivan writes in the New Republic.
"But my naivete continues. I was taken aback that they tried, for the first time in history, to overturn the result of a certified, recounted presidential election. I was amazed that they tried to do this by relying upon a method of vote-counting that had never previously been used in national politics those cursed dimples and upon a state court in Florida so intent on electing Al Gore that it actually helped defeat him. But little prepared me for the strategy now being deployed in the wake of Gore's narrow loss. It's now clear that, for many Democratic partisans, George W. Bush may get to take the oath of office, but he has no right to actually be president."
Mr. Sullivan added: "Hence the early assault on Bush's Cabinet nominees, in particular former Missouri Senator John Ashcroft. To read the liberal press, you'd think nothing out of the ordinary was going on. Just advising and consenting, Your Honor. And, of course, the Senate has a constitutional right and duty to vet Cabinet appointees.
"But it doesn't have the right to pick the Cabinet of its own preference, and it never has… ."

'Silly' idea

"President Bush's plan to run a West Wing lean on staffers is being met with resistance on Capitol Hill," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"Congressional sources say Bush is being 'silly' by refusing to ask that the 25 percent staff funding cut put in place by former President Clinton be restored. Bush aides say he doesn't plan to copy Clinton's model of robbing Cabinet agencies to fill empty West Wing desks. But Hill leaders have a warning. 'He'll need the extra staff just to answer our questions or investigations into his actions,' says one."

Curious moment

"When Bush stated, 'We will reduce taxes,' a curious moment occurred" during the inaugural address, UPI National Political Analyst Peter Roff writes.
"The crowd of dignitaries sitting in the plaza remained quiet while from the base of Capitol Hill a thunderous shout of approval burst forth, rushing forward across the crowd so that, within seconds, most all assembled were applauding and cheering."

Reed's new job

Bruce Reed, who served as President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is returning to the Democratic Leadership Council.
Mr. Reed was policy director and editor of the DLC's magazine before joining the Clinton campaign in 1992. He now becomes the group's president.
Al From, who made the announcement, had served as DLC president and chief executive officer. He will retain the latter position.
Ellen Tauscher, California Democrat, will serve as vice chairman of the group that touts itself as the centrist voice of New Democrats.

Wilkinson's new job

Jim Wilkinson is leaving his post as director of marketing and communications for the National Republican Congressional Committee to join the Bush administration.
Mr. Wilkinson will serve as special assistant to the president and deputy director of communications for planning.

Punch line

On the "Tonight" show Thursday, Jay Leno had fun at the expense of Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat.
"Hypocrite of the month goes to Senator Paul Wellstone," Mr. Leno said. "… He was one of the loudest voices about congressional term limits. When he ran, he said he would only serve two terms and then get out. He announced yesterday that he is running for a third term. I guess two terms wasn't enough time to break all his campaign promises."

Illegal voting

MILWAUKEE At least 361 felons voted illegally in Milwaukee on Nov. 7, breaking an often-misunderstood Wisconsin law that disqualifies felons from voting until they are off probation and parole.

The votes almost certainly sweetened Al Gore's narrow margin of victory in Wisconsin over George W. Bush, but by themselves did not put him over the top, according to the Journal Sentinel's review of 203,000 Milwaukee votes.

If disqualified felons elsewhere in the state voted illegally at the same rate as they did in the Milwaukee votes that were examined, as many as 1,100 votes could have been wrongly cast, according to the newspaper's analysis.

Mr. Gore topped Mr. Bush statewide by just 5,708 votes, or 0.2 percent, briefly causing Republicans to consider seeking a recount.

Blacks living in central-city neighborhoods cast nearly 90 percent of the illegal votes, according to the report.

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