- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2001

Escaping chastisement
“Outrage really is a matter for a sliding scale. Case in point: Mary Frances Berry, the pugnacious chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,” United Press International’s Peter Roff writes.
“After spending months on point for Democrats seeking to delegitimize Bush’s win in Florida and, by extension, the entire Bush presidency, Berry has recently been trumpeting her commission’s controversial report on election procedures in the Sunshine State,” Mr. Roff said.
“Speaking to the NAACP convention in New Orleans , Berry revealed herself to be militantly anti-Republican as she shared her joy at the takeover by the Democrats of the United States Senate. Before the switch by Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, she told the assembled delegates, ‘I was just wondering when Strom Thurmond was gonna die.’
“The remark was received with laughter and applause, and Berry received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her talk.
“Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican, is 98. Such ghoulish oratory, had it come from a Republican appointee within the U.S. government, would have been met with widespread protest and demands for resignation. Instead, some applaud her remarks, others discuss them, a few condemn them while Berry escapes official chastisement.”

Guerrilla tactics
Sen. John McCain remains confident the House will vote this year on campaign finance reform, even though reform supporters killed the bill on a technicality last week rather than risk defeat.
“We’ve got to cool this thing down,” Mr. McCain, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve got to sit down and move forward.”
Mr. McCain, who already has succeeded in pushing the legislation through the Senate, said there were a number of options that proponents of the legislation were considering to resurrect the measure to ban unregulated “soft money” donations to national political parties.
The Arizona Republican said he has talked with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who “was agreeable” to attaching a campaign finance proposal to any Senate bill that has to be passed by the House.
Mr. McCain said conservative House Democrats also are prepared to push for a so-called discharge petition, which could force a vote if 218 members sign it.
“We’ll get a vote sooner or later, as I’ve always said,” Mr. McCain said, restating that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert “did promise us a fair vote on this” and that “hasn’t happened yet.”
Mr. McCain said he believed that Mr. Hastert “would do the right thing.”
Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and co-sponsor of the campaign finance bill in the House, told CNN’s “Late Edition” that “we simply will have a vote on this bill,” otherwise he would resort to guerrilla tactics.
Mr. Shays said if the House Republican leadership does not reschedule a vote, Republican campaign finance proponents would use House procedures to tie up other bills.

A wasted performance
“Maybe it was the brisk sea air or the beer at Kennebunkport’s Federal Jack’s pub. Whatever it was, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer went wild on the karaoke machine during President Bush’s recent visit to the family retreat,” Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
“Fleischer sang the old hip-hop song ‘Bust a Move,’ from Young MC. ‘He was unbelievably good, but who could remember? We were all drunk,’ says a reporter.”

Taboo subject
“Remember all the news reports a few weeks ago about President Bush’s perilous drop in the polls? The media treated the June numbers, which had Bush’s approval rating in the low to mid-50s, with a grave seriousness usually reserved for obituaries. Never before had reporters seemed so concerned about the plight of a Republican,” John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponuru write in National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com ).
“Well, the July numbers are starting to roll in, and Bush’s approval rating is back in the upper 50s, where it’s been for most of his six months in office. CNN/USA Today/Gallup now has him at 57 percent, up from 52 percent a month ago. In addition, The Washington Post has him at 58 percent.
“We await a series of stories on Bush’s rebate rebound.”

A dishonest ad
“The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation has just produced a beautiful, moving television ad. It’s about a pretty, lively little girl named Samantha — and the evil people who want her to keep suffering from diabetes,” the Weekly Standard says in its “Scrapbook” column.
“You might wonder who, exactly, is in favor of juvenile diabetes. Well, the ad makes it clear: The people who oppose the use of stem cells. And even though ‘stem cell research has broad support … across the country,’ these people are using ‘politics’ politics, mind you — to ‘prevent a breakthrough in medical science.’ So we had all better telephone President Bush this minute to record our support for stem cell research.
“The Scrapbook could make that phone call. So could everybody else in America, because there isn’t anyone involved in the debate who opposes stem cell research. Adult and other nonembryonic stem cell research has shown potential for treating diabetes, and everybody is glad. But that’s not what the Samantha ad is really about. What the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation wants you to do is phone the president to register your support for embryonic stem cell research, a word that never appears in the ad.
“This is what disingenuousness looks like in the debate over embryonic stem cells. If you’d prefer that stem cells were obtained nondestructively from adults, if you think there’s something creepy about creating human embryos for the purpose of destroying them to extract their stem cells (the kind of research, according to the Wall Street Journal, that the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation has already given $650,000 to support in Spain), why, then, you must want little Samantha to suffer forever. Funny, the usual watchdogs of political advertising haven’t barked on this one.”

Mystery affiliation
ABC, CBS and NBC have downplayed Gary Condit’s political affiliation throughout their coverage of the Chandra Levy story, the Media Research Center reports.
“From May 14, when Chandra’s mother, Susan, appeared on ‘Good Morning America’ to plead for her daughter’s safe return, through July 11, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs aired a total of 179 stories about Gary Condit 121 full-length reports or interviews, plus 58 brief anchor-read items,” Rich Noyes writes at mediaresearch.org.
“MRC researchers reviewed each story, and found that Condit was labeled a ‘Democrat’ only 14 times, or in fewer than 8 percent of stories. Six of those labels, or almost half, came aired with adjectives such as ‘conservative’ or ‘right-wing’ which distinguished Condit from other members of his party.”
Mr. Noyes added: “Condit’s ideological ratings, however, place him squarely in the middle of the spectrum: After 12 years in Congress, Condit gets a 48 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and a 52 percent score from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.”

Time to go
“Did Gary Condit murder Chandra Levy? Did the 24-year-old intern, reported missing on May 6, kill herself in despair over her alleged affair with the 53-year-old congressman? Did the young woman fall victim to random street crime? Or is a safe but vengeful Levy in hiding somewhere, watching her ex-lover’s life unravel? Who knows,” the New Republic says in an editorial. “But Condit’s fitness for public office does not depend on the answers. It is time for him to resign.”

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