- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Mad at McCain
Some House Republicans say they have had it with Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who made fun of the House for adjourning a day early while offices were tested for anthrax.
"It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for anything he's sponsoring," Rep. Mike Simpson, Idaho Republican, told the Hill newspaper. "He has lost any credibility in the House that he ever had."
Mr. McCain, in an appearance on the David Letterman show, ridiculed House members as "real profiles in courage" who headed "for the hills" while the Senate stayed in session.
Even Rep. Peter T. King, a New York Republican who supported Mr. McCain's bid for the presidency last year, said he was "very disappointed" in his friend, reporter Betsy Rothstein writes.
"I'm really disgusted with the Senate and John as an individual," Mr. King said. "It was a sorry time for the Senate. They showed themselves to be a bunch of pompous windbags."
Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican who has dedicated himself to promoting civility between Democrats and Republicans in the House, said: "These guys made a terrible mistake trying to thumb their nose at Speaker [J. Dennis] Hastert, who is probably the most decent politician on Capitol Hill. In the short term, it has broken down the collegiality that I'm sure existed before they started shooting their mouths off."
Mr. LaHood added: "A lot of our members kind of wonder about John to begin with, and this holier-than-thou stuff, and the pompous way he tried to carry off McCain-Feingold [campaign finance reform]. To be honest, guys like McCain owe the speaker an apology."

Spooked journalists
The war in Afghanistan has barely begun and already some journalists are seeing the ghost of Vietnam.
"Like an unwelcome specter from an unhappy past, the ominous word 'quagmire' has begun to haunt conversations among government officials and students of foreign policy, both here and abroad," the New York Times' R.W. Apple Jr. wrote yesterday in a news analysis.
"Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia," Mr. Apple said.
"For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. [On Tuesday], for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to 'a limited number of the various opposition elements.'
"Their role sounds suspiciously like that of the advisers sent to Vietnam in the early 1960s, although Mr. Rumsfeld took pains to say of the anti-Taliban forces that 'you're not going to send a few people in and tell them they should turn right, turn left, go slower, go fast.' The Vietnam advisers, of course, were initially described in much the same terms, and the government of the day vigorously denied that they were a prelude to American combat troops."

'Abuse of power'
Leaders of the D.C.-based Family Research Council held a news conference at Sioux Falls, S.D., yesterday with the South Dakota Family Policy Council to denounce what they called Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's efforts to block judicial nominations.
The groups announced they would be running newspaper ads about the South Dakota Democrat's blocking of Bush administration judicial nominees in the Argus Leader beginning today.
"Senator Daschle has ratcheted up the partisanship on judges to unprecedented levels," Family Research Council President Ken Connor said. "When Bill Clinton was president, Senator Daschle thought that 75 vacant judgeships was a 'judicial emergency.' Why isn't it a crisis when 106 judgeships are vacant now that George W. Bush is president?
"President Bush is nominating judges who will exercise judicial restraint. Yet the bitterly partisan Senator Daschle is determined to deny the president the fruits of his election using the war on terrorism as an excuse," Mr. Connor said.
Robert Regier, executive director of the South Dakota group, said: "At a time when South Dakotans are concerned about anthrax attacks on our senator and his staff, Senator Daschle is playing political games with our judicial system. While we're praying for his safety and for a spirit of national unity, Senator Daschle abuses his power in a spirit of partisan hostility."

Snookered
The Rev. Al Sharpton, the racial provocateur from New York City who plans to run for president as a Democrat, apparently snookered the Israelis into letting him meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Mr. Sharpton visited Israel earlier this week, saying he wanted to show solidarity with Jewish victims of terrorism.
But during a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Mr. Sharpton reportedly said he had been asked by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to meet with Mr. Arafat to encourage the Palestinian to take steps against terrorism.
That was enough to persuade Mr. Peres to allow the meeting, the New York Post reports, citing an anonymous Israeli official. Mr. Sharpton appeared more friendly to Mr. Arafat than Mr. Peres, an Israeli complained. Mr. Sharpton walked arm in arm with Mr. Arafat as they met with reporters.
However, a State Department spokeswoman said Mr. Powell had made no such request, although the secretary of state had accepted a phone call from Mr. Sharpton before the black activist's trip.

A smoke screen
"The Senate seems in no rush to vote on a stimulus package," William P. Kucewicz observes at National Review Online's financial site (nationalreview.com).
"Majority Leader Tom Daschle expects to get a bill to the president by Thanksgiving. Odds are the Democrat-led Senate will resist many of the tax-cut provisions of the House-approved bill. Instead, Senate Democrats want to extend unemployment benefits, including a federal subsidy to help the jobless keep their health insurance, and raise public-works spending. It ultimately will be left to conferees to hammer out a compromise," Mr. Kucewicz writes.
"What must be understood in this partisan dispute is that the Democrats' arguments against tax cuts are a smoke screen. They have said, for instance, that tax cuts would raise interest rates. Fact is, they are only using this argument, which they know strikes a nerve in voters, to disguise their true intent namely, to keep as much money in Washington's hands as possible. For example, Congress just recently raised farm subsidies by 70 percent to $170 billion over the next 10 years. So much for 'fiscal discipline.' On Capitol Hill, 'fiscal discipline' is now a code word for 'big spending.'"

Oral arguments
"Relocating oral argument to the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse after the discovery of anthrax in the U.S. Supreme Court mailroom affords the itinerant Supreme Court anthropologist an opportunity to study the justices (juris doctoris maximus) outside their natural habitat," Dahlia Lithwick writes at the Internet magazine Slate (slate.msn.com).
"The disadvantage of the anthrax discovery is that several of us itinerant anthropologists are scared out of our freaking minds. The press corps chats about who's on Cipro and who's not. My ruling, following substantial oral argument for each side: 'If you don't know where the Supreme Court mailroom is, you don't need antibiotics.' This will someday be lauded as either temperate good judgment or an appropriately ironic epitaph."


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