- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2001

Mythical mandates
The press is giving Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, "the kid-glove treatment. This is especially true when compared to the coverage of President Bush. The coverage is not only fawning, its excessive," notes Stephen F. Hayes of the National Journals Hotline.
Mr. McCain is "elbowing his way back onto TV and movie screens with a public service announcement on guns. Hes vowed to fight Bush on a patients bill of rights. And he declared in a forthcoming interview with Rolling Stone that he is fast becoming an 'environmentalist, this last area — perhaps coincidentally — being President Bushs chief vulnerability.
"McCain earned some of this coverage, having won a few GOP primaries … but the 'McCain Majority" never materialized. His key issue — campaign finance — remains as important to average Americans as Arbor Day. (Not journalists, mind you, average Americans)," Mr. Hayes writes.
"Yet many of the same reporters who regularly suggest that Bushs narrow victory means he has no mandate rush to cover each McCain pronouncement as if he is anything more than a Senator. Whats more, McCain is given a free pass when he claims that his five primary victories give him a mandate.
"How is it that McCain, who won five primaries, has a mandate, but Bush, who won the Republican nomination and the general election, does not?"

Full of gas

A new buzzword to relish: "SUV Democrats," this courtesy of the American Spectator.
"DNC chief Terry McAuliffe is driving around town in a giant Cadillac Escalade that gets about 10 miles to the gallon. House minority leader Dick Gephardts Ford SUV gets just a little more mileage out of its tankful of fuel. And Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle? His staff wont say what he drives at home, preferring to point to a more economical GM luxury car he gets driven around in when in the capital. But after the Democratic leaders learned that Republican operatives were driving around town filming their gas-guzzling cars at the same time that these honchos were saying the Bush energy plan was folly, the DNC is making a move to put the men in more fuel-efficient automobiles," the magazine notes on its Web site.
"Those SUVs are going into the garage and youll see them all in more modest wheels before this energy debate gets hot," says a DNC source, who says that Mr. Gephardt already has arranged to have a sedan and driver tool him around town for the next few weeks. Ditto Mr. McAuliffe. "We arent going to let the Republicans point the finger at us for being wasteful with energy," says the DNC source. "Were smarter than that."

President Sharpton?

The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning to run for president in 2004, Time magazine reported yesterday.
"I feel that the Democratic Party must be challenged in 2004 because it didnt fight aggressively to protect our voting rights in Florida," he said. "I think we need to look at running a black in the primary. I have said I would be available to do it."
Mr. Sharpton said the idea came to him while he sat under a tree in Sudan last month.
He denied that he was taking advantage of Jesse Jacksons tarnished image. "Im not one to think that Reverend Jacksons finished," he said. "My rise is not at Jesses expense. If Im rising its because Ive done the work on issues like police brutality that affect huge numbers of our people."
Mr. Jackson, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, acknowledged fathering an out-of-wedlock child.

Fighting for freedom

The National Rifle Association is taking aim at Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, for his campaign finance law that the NRA says impinges on freedom of speech.
"Its an American tradition that citizens … get to say anything we want anytime we want about these politicians," Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said of the bill Mr. McCain cosponsored with Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat.
Appearing on ABCs "This Week" yesterday, Mr. LaPierre called the McCain-Feingold bill "Big Brother with a baseball bat."
But Mr. McCain fired back on the same show, saying the NRA and other lobbying groups oppose the legislation because "they will lose their influence and access if they are required to restrain the amount of money theyre able to contribute. And thats really what this is all about."

A matter of faith

"Religion infuses the presidents daily life," says USA Today. "Bush, 54, starts every day on his knees, praying. He reads the Bible each morning and studies a daily Bible lesson. He often asks a Cabinet secretary to lead a prayer at the beginning of Cabinet meetings. He says he frequently prays in the Oval Office. He sometimes prays on the phone with a minister friend who lives in Houston."
His faith, friends and family say, is part of the president. Some disapprove, though.
"When a president wears his religion on his sleeve as visibly as this one does, he isnt simply using the bully pulpit to speak his mind," said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Hes trying to impose his religious views on other people."
Senior pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston is the Bush friend who sometimes prays with the president over the phone. Mr. Caldwell says Mr. Bushs faith is "such a significant part of his life that he cant help but talk about it."
"The presidents faith is extraordinarily important to him, not just for spiritual reasons but for professional, emotional, social and family reasons," Mr. Caldwell says. "The president allows his faith to permeate his entire being. He does not keep his faith in a box and open it when hes in trouble."

The show-me guy

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has turned party boy. Four months ago, he spent $1 million in mostly private money on an inauguration that treated several thousand visitors to a barbecue buffet, four dances and a gala emceed by actor Tony Randall. Now Mr. Holdens inaugural committee is more than $417,000 in debt, making Missouri the only state in the union with such a dubious honor.
Meanwhile, Mr. Holden, a Democrat, has taken other cost-cutting steps like shutting off fountains at the Capitol.
"This was extremely extravagant for the times and we cant even find out how the governor spent the money or where hes getting donations," complained state Rep. Jason Crowell, a Republican from Cape Girardeau.

Waiting on Wade

The factions are weighing in as Wade F. Horn awaits confirmation as assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services. He is a known champion of marriages and dutiful fathers.
"He clearly recognizes the linkage between marriage and reducing child poverty and other problems that affect children," said Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. "Hell be the best assistant secretary in that position ever."
"He can shift back and forth between broad policy questions and intimate psychological issues of family breakdown," noted David Popenoe, a sociologist at Rutgers University. "On that level, I find him quite remarkable."
"I dont mind emphasizing marriage, but I dont want this country to forget about the millions of children of divorced families," said David L. Levy of the Childrens Rights Council. "We forget them at our peril."
"Horn reflects the heavy-handed, Big Brother conservatism of the Bush administration," said politics professor Gwendolyn Mink of the University of California. "The idea is not only that fathers should get all sorts of rights and 'carrots. It is also that single mothers must forfeit the rights to make intimate decisions that the rest of us hold dear, because they are poor and unmarried."

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