- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

The common thread

"Democratic efforts to make it easier for minorities to vote will also include GOP demands to fight fraud, we hear," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

"That bid is led by Sen. Christopher Bond, Missouri Republican, who has conducted a one-man probe into voting misdeeds in St. Louis. He's found dead people and a dog registered to vote and a scheme by the Al Gore-Joseph Lieberman team to use the courts to keep polls open in St. Louis and Kansas City beyond legal hours. It apparently didn't end there: Whispers learns that a similar nighttime effort was made in heavily Democratic Detroit," Mr. Bedard said.

"The common thread — the Gore-Lieberman team was the only plaintiff in all three lawsuits. Gore aides say they weren't plotting to steal the election. Nonetheless, GOP aides say Bond's discoveries have helped to temper racially charged emotions in election reform efforts and could lead to passage of a bipartisan bill this fall."

Shell organization

"In his address to the recent meeting of the NAACP, Julian Bond crowed that the group was the 'biggest, baddest civil-rights organization in the country.' President Bush's natural assumption has been that repairing the breach between himself and black Americans would require reaching out to this big bad group," John McWhorter writes in the Aug. 6 issue of National Review.

"But the NAACP's behavior in recent times has disqualified it from any claim to represent progressive black thought in this country. This year, chary of appearing before the organization responsible for an attack ad that linked him to a lynching death, Bush resorted to the fig leaf of a 'scheduling conflict.' He need not be so indirect next year. If Bush is seriously committed to the Advancement of Colored People, his first step will be to dissociate himself from this irrelevant shell of an organization," said Mr. McWhorter, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and author of "Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America."

"In their addresses, both Bond and NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume made the grand old point that today's black conservatives owe their lives to the desegregationist efforts of groups like the NAACP in the days of yore. The problem is, the NAACP that helped eliminate lynching and spurred Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 no longer exists. Since the 1970s, the organization has fallen prey to the two central fallacies of the Black Power take on civil rights: that black people should be exempt from competition or censure until societal inequity ceases to exist, and that a group cannot be expected to achieve anything significant in the presence of even residual racism. W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins are only three who would have been baffled by these assumptions."

Bush's home turf

"After Republicans retained a six-vote majority in the House of Representatives in the 1998 election, the conventional wisdom was that the place was ungovernable, hence no help to the GOP. And after Jim Jeffords split and gave the Senate to Democrats, the House was judged to be irrelevant, since the Senate would now be where the action is. Wrong on both counts, it turns out," the Weekly Standard says in its Scrapbook column.

"House Republicans, who today run the body with a seven-vote majority, are moving and shaking on two fronts with amazing success. The House has become Bush's home turf: It's where he launches his agenda. The latest is the faith-based initiative, supposedly at death's door but approved by the House last week by a comfortable margin. Absent this, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle would be free to keep the Bush proposal off the Senate floor. Instead, the pressure's on Daschle to take up the faith-based plan in the Senate soon," the magazine said.

"The other role for the House is as a graveyard for liberal legislation from the Senate, or at least improver of such legislation. It was no accident that campaign finance reform died in the House through Speaker Denny Hastert's clever use of the rules. Besides, GOP leaders had won back enough Republicans who'd earlier favored reform to deny a majority to liberal reformers allied with Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold. Next candidate for Hasterization: the patients' bill of rights. The Senate passed the liberal version. Hastert & Co. are determined to substitute a palatable scheme.

"The question is what happened to the heralded alliance of moderate Republicans and Democrats who were supposed the media told us so to run the House? It hasn't materialized. House Republicans that is, conservative Republicans — are three for three, passing Bush's tax cut in toto and a milder version of faith-based, while killing campaign finance reform. Not a bad half-year's work."

Targeting Rove

"Not too long ago President Bush asked his chief political strategist, Karl Rove, how he was holding up under a burst of media and Democratic criticism," Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot writes.

"'That depends on you, sir,' said Mr. Rove, who has long been part of the Bush inner circle.

"'They are going to need a very sharp crowbar to get between us,' replied Mr. Bush, who then added, as he often does about the criticism, 'Better you than me!'

"Mr. Rove laughs when he tells that story, which is self-serving but which also sounds true because it captures the Bush-Rove symbiosis. Mr. Bush knows no one is more vital to the success of his presidency than his fellow transplanted Texan, which is precisely why Democrats are painting a bull's-eye on Mr. Rove's back," Mr. Gigot said.

"Rep. Henry Waxman, the California spearthrower, called [last] week for a Justice Department probe of Mr. Rove over conflict of interest. That demand won't go anywhere because Mr. Waxman is in the House minority and so can't hold hearings, and because the independent-counsel law has expired, thanks to Monica Lewinsky. And besides, the charges are slight even by Beltway standards.

"But Mr. Rove had better get used to it. Mr. Waxman — a Democratic Dan Burton with 20 more IQ points is building a record for the next time the White House adviser gets caught in media/political fire. He knows that if Democrats can chase Mr. Rove out of the White House, they'll be halfway to chasing Mr. Bush out of Washington in 2004."

They love Laura

George W. Bush's pre-election prediction that his wife would make "a great first lady" has come true, at least in the minds of the public.

Just seven months after Mr. Bush took office as president, approval ratings for his wife are soaring, with a full 81 percent of Americans agreeing that Laura Bush has "improved the image of the first lady," according to the latest Harris Poll, released last week.

Public sentiment about her predecessor, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is divided with 48 percent of those polled responding that the New York Democrat had "harmed" the image of first wife, and 52 percent saying she improved it.

Forty-five percent of Americans, however, rank Mrs. Clinton as the "most intelligent" first lady, according to the poll, which looked at public opinion concerning the last nine first ladies who have lived in the White House since 1960.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis emerges as the most beloved first lady of the past 40 years, followed by Nancy Reagan, the poll found. Mrs. Onassis, a style icon who died of cancer in 1996, also was regarded by the public as first lady who "best represented the United States with the rest of the world."

Former first lady Barbara Bush came in second behind Mrs. Onassis as the first lady who was the "best role model for women in America."

The poll was conducted between June 7 and 17 and surveyed online the opinions of 1,246 adults.

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