- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2001

Classified sermon

Not a few downtown United Methodist churches would like President and Laura Bush to worship there Sundays, but Asbury United Methodist may have been trying the hardest even though phone calls are not being taken at the White House.

"We were founded in 1836, before the emancipation," said Asbury trustee Leonard L. Haynes III. "We sort of broke out of Foundry, if I recall." Foundry United Methodist Church, which in those days segregated blacks, in the 1990s was attended by President and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The historic church, attended by city officials, judges and Howard University faculty, has stood at 11th and K streets NW since its founding, and is one of the key Gothic steeples in the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

"The president sets a tone by where he goes to church," said Democratic activist Terry Lynch, director of the cluster. "It would send a tremendous message if he worshipped at an integrated or black congregation."

The pastor, the Rev. Eugene Matthews, is said to be a sophisticated preacher and is able "to keep a secret." He worked 13 years at the National Security Agency.

Another Newt

The olive branch that President Bush has extended to Democrats has all but been snapped in two.

If it wasn't already broken by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Teddy Kennedy while considering the nomination of former Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general, it's been sufficiently snapped in half by Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew as Mr. Bush concludes his first week in the Oval Office.

"Whether it's imposing new restrictions on women's right to choose or delaying new health, safety and environmental initiatives, Americans are starting to ask what happened to the 'compassionate' George W. Bush they saw on Inauguration Day," said Mr. Andrew.

The DNC leader goes so far as to compare Mr. Bush to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying: "Bush is ripping a page from the Gingrich playbook."

Politics after politics

Political observers are intrigued that Al Gore's first nongovernment job after 25 years in the political arena will be to teach a journalism class at Columbia University.

Actually, the former vice president's lectures as visiting professor to the college will center on the modern-day journalistic approach to politics.

Thus, don't be surprised if the one-time cub reporter for the Tennessean in Nashville digresses to the hotly contested 2000 presidential election.

Should, on the other hand, professor Gore disappoint people in his new job, political students might consider applying to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where we're told former Education secretary and one-time Republican presidential candidate Lamar Alexander has been appointed a visiting professor, teaching a course this spring on the American presidential campaign.

Free expression

Speaking of the 2000 presidential-election circus, don't blame the television networks.

Or so says the Washington-based Cato Institute, warning against proposed congressional hearings to examine how and why major news anchors like Dan Rather and Peter Jennings prematurely called the presidential race on Election Night.

"Supporters of a free society should worry that congressional hearings would have a chilling effect on the news media," said Cato scholars John Samles, Tom Palmer and Patrick Basham, co-authors of the think tank's study, "Lessons of Election 2000."

Explain the trio: "Any government regulation of when and how the media report the results of exit polls would contravene the prohibitions explicitly stated in the First Amendment."

In other words, free expression at all costs regardless of accuracy or consequences.

Moderate cuts

If Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's unexpected remark yesterday that the economy could benefit from tax cuts wasn't ammunition enough for President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan, then try this history on for size.

While critics continue to describe Mr. Bush's tax-relief plan as "too radical" and "too big," a historical comparison of economic data released by the 300,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) draws the opposite conclusion.

By virtually any fiscal measure, the Bush package is more moderate than the sweeping tax reductions proposed by either Democratic President John F. Kennedy or Republican President Ronald Reagan.

"The facts show that John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both cut taxes deeper than Bush now proposes to do," said NTU Director of Congressional Relations Eric V. Schlecht, who labels Mr. Bush a "moderate" in this year's debate over tax cuts.

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