- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2001

Bad day for contrarians
Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords defection to the Democrats (hes an "independent" in name only) "gives a kick in the pole to the two-big-tents party system," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.
"Im for a strong minority within each of the major parties, battling internally in primaries, pulling both liberal and conservative extremes toward the stable center. When liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats are seen by lockstep partisans as fifth columns to be ostracized and purged, party debate withers and the system suffers," Mr. Safire said.
"The Jeffords switch feeds the appetite of the purity crowd. (Ya see? Cant trust them GOP libs; theyll stab you in the back when you need em most.) Its hard to believe this Vermonter made a decision of great national import driven by personal pique at some White House slight. Whatever his motive, by bolting Jeffords has made life much harder for independent voices within each party.
"Now hes just another Daschle Democrat, comfortable with his ideological kin. But the dwindling band of libertarian or moderate Republicans is shamed into a smaller corner. Neatness rules. Internal dissent is further suspect as disloyalty. Bad day for contrarians in both parties."

Jeffords and term limits

Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords decision to bolt from the GOP may have been made easier by the partys term limits on chairmanships, James Pinkerton writes in the Los Angeles Times.
For what the columnist called a "moderate careerist such as Jeffords," term limits "put a premature cap on a lifetime of service. As the Burlington Free Press reported on Wednesday, Jeffords, just re-elected to a six-year term in 2000, has made it clear he 'did not relish the idea of spending four years with no chairmanship."
The Democrats, on the other hand, "have offered Jeffords what could well be a chairmanship for life. If such concerns — which could affect other senior Republicans, too — seems petty in the scheme of things, maybe thats because they are. But great events … oftentimes hang on the smallest of causative explanations," Mr. Pinkerton said.

Scalia defends decision

The U.S. Supreme Courts decision in the presidential-election dispute did not tarnish the courts reputation, Justice Antonin Scalia said.
"I dont have any fears that the long-term reputation of the court will suffer because of Bush v. Gore," the conservative jurist said. "I think the opinion was the right one."
Justice Scalia, speaking Wednesday to several hundred members of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Mich., also said he didnt think that the courts reputation should be like "some shiny piece of trophy armor" mounted above the fireplace.
"Its working armor and meant to be used and sometimes dented in the service of the public," he said.
Justice Scalia made the comment while answering questions submitted by the audience. Most of his 40-minute speech as the evenings keynote speaker focused on his "originalist" interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, the Associated Press reports.

Without a clue

"The problem is that [CBS News anchorman Dan] Rather and the other evening stars think that liberal bias means just one thing: going hard on Republicans and easy on Democrats. But real media bias comes not so much from what party they attack. Liberal bias is the result of how they see the world," former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"Consider this: In 1996, after I wrote about liberal bias on this very page, Dan was furious and during a phone conversation he indicated that picking the Wall Street Journal to air my views was especially appalling, given the conservative views of the papers editorial page. 'What do you consider the New York Times? I asked him, since he had written op-eds for that paper. 'Middle of the road, he said.
"I couldnt believe he was serious. The Times is a newspaper that has taken the liberal side of every important social issue of our time, which is fine with me. But if you see the New York Times editorial page as middle of the road, one thing is clear: You dont have a clue," Mr. Goldberg said.
"And it is this inability to see liberal views as liberal that is at the heart of the entire problem. This is why Phyllis Schlafly is the conservative woman who heads that conservative organization, but Patricia Ireland is merely the head of NOW. No liberal labels necessary. Robert Bork is the conservative judge. Laurence Tribe is the noted Harvard law professor. Rush Limbaugh is the conservative talk-show host. Rosie ODonnell is simply Rosie ODonnell, no matter how many liberal opinions she shares with her audience.
"Conservatives must be identified because the audience needs to know these are people with axes to grind. But liberals dont need to be identified because their views on all the big social issues — from abortion and gun control to the death penalty and affirmative action — arent liberal views at all. Theyre simply reasonable views, shared by all the reasonable people the media elites mingle with at all their reasonable dinner parties in Manhattan and Georgetown."

Washed up

"Rudy Giuliani made his bed, but he cant sleep in it," New York Post columnist Sidney Zion writes, referring to the New York mayors messy divorce proceedings.
"And this is the least of his troubles. Now and in the foreseeable future, hes washed up in politics. No chance of returning to Gracie Mansion in four years, no chance in a statewide race and no chance the Bush administration will call, either," Mr. Zion said.
"Its a pity. Rudy may be the best mayor New York ever had, but this crazed war hes waged against his wife has turned everyone but the folks on his payroll against him. And no Vegas book would guarantee those guys and dolls.
"How did it come to this? How could a man with such terrific antennae out to moral values blind himself? How could he think that the public would accept not only his mistress, but the flaunting of her in front of his wife and children in Gracie Mansion?"

Arguments that failed

Ann Stone, national chairman of Republicans for Choice, sent Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords a letter Wednesday, urging him not to abandon the Republican Party and those in it who favor an unfettered right to an abortion.
"It is my great hope that you will decide to stay within the Republican Party and continue to work with us," Mrs. Stone said, adding that if he did leave, it would make abortion opponents stronger "and us weaker."
She enclosed a handout called "Twelve Reasons Why You Should Become Or Remain A Republican," which emphasized such things as the Republican Partys belief in lower taxes and smaller government (perhaps not the best arguments to use on Mr. Jeffords).
"And if none of the other reasons appeal to you, then please know that every pro-choice person who joins or stays in the party really annoys Phyllis Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes! As we add to our numbers — their power diminishes!!! In fact, Pat Buchanan says our presence annoys him so much, its one of the reasons he left," the handout said.

Getting antsy

At least some House Democrats hope that Michigan Rep. David E. Bonior, the minority leader, wont wait much longer before going home to run for governor.
"The pressure is coming mainly from supporters of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, one of two declared candidates to replace Bonior in the leadership," Roll Call reporter Ethan Wallison writes. "They believe that Pelosi has enough votes to beat Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and that any delay could only work to her disadvantage."


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