- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

Noble: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), because the checks are actually in the mail.

It doesn't matter that the carnivores at the IRS would have rather had repeated root canals of their ruthless incisors than pass back anything that they worked so hard to collect. Nor does it matter that they had about as much to do with returning money to taxpayers as Rep. Richard Gephardt had to do with returning a Republican majority in the House.

The checks are in the mail. It doesn't even matter that the checks amount to a few crumbs off the table compared to the Leviathian's porky largess (taxpayers will receive about $300 each; Birmingham's Vulcan Monument $2 million).

The checks are in the mail. The freedom to spend one's hard-won earnings is one of our republic's most precious attributes, and thanks to the efforts of freely elected representatives, taxpayers will soon be receiving singular markers of that freedom. Just as importantly, taxpayers will have the freedom to spend that money on just about whatever they want to including lobbying to extract more of their money from the revenue collectors at the IRS.

Knave: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, for his amphibious political assault across the Atlantic.

There is a longstanding political tradition that politics is supposed to stop at the water's edge; that when the president is representing the United States overseas, even his most partisan political foes will mute their criticism of him.

No more. As President George W. Bush was traversing the Atlantic to negotiate with Europe's leaders, Mr. Daschle unleashed his rhetorical assault, accusing the president of isolationism and diminishing the United States' place in the world.

Later in the day, Mr. Daschle suggested that had he known the president was traveling, he might have chosen a different time to make his remarks. Given that the president's European trip has not exactly been kept a secret, this is disingenuous to say the least. After all, Mr. Daschle and his cohorts are leading a campaign of unlimited, continuous political warfare on the president, one that has already featured NCAAP Chairman Julian Bond comparing the administration's appointments to the Taliban, and DNC Chairman Terry McCauliffe denouncing Mr. Bush as an illegitimate president.

To that end, Mr. Dashcle made his attack in a way that was sure to become front-page news from sea to shining sea. After all, boundaries mean little in a scorched-earth campaign.

Yet Mr. Daschle's aggravated assault cannot diminish the fact that America's role in the world has been diminished by the dramatic cutbacks in the U.S. military that occurred during the Clinton years, not to mention a foreign policy so bereft of coherency that it could not have saved Private Ryan.

By his ambitious assault, Mr. Daschle has only diminished himself.

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