- The Washington Times - Friday, November 16, 2001

Bush's rating

President Bush's job-approval rating remains in the stratosphere and that's not all.

"In the history of Gallup polling, no prior presidents have been able to sustain their high approval levels, with no apparent decline, this long," the polling organization says at its Web site (www.gallup.com).

The latest Gallup poll, conducted Nov. 8-11, measures the president's approval rating at 87 percent. Mr. Bush's job approval has remained at 86 percent or higher in seven Gallup polls conducted over two months.

In the same poll, 89 percent of Americans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling the war on terrorism, topping a list that includes 10 individuals or organizations involved in the war effort. After Mr. Bush, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell gets the highest approval score at 87 percent, followed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (80 percent), Attorney General John Ashcroft (77 percent), and Vice President Richard B. Cheney (75 percent).

"Sixty percent approve of the way Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is handling the war on terrorism, making him the lowest rated among the government officials. However, just 14 percent disapprove of the job Ridge is doing, while 26 percent have no opinion," Gallup said.

"Congress gets very high marks from the public as well 73 percent approve of the job Congress is doing overall and 77 percent approve of the way it is handling the war on terrorism. More than seven in 10 Americans approve of the way the United States Postal Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are handling the war, two agencies at the forefront of the anthrax situation in the United States."

Civil rights appointee

President Bush has appointed former Vice President Dan Quayle's staff assistant, Jennifer Cabranes Braceras, to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

She replaces Yvonne Lee, a liberal Democrat, on the left-leaning, eight-member panel.

Miss Braceras is currently the John M. Olin fellow in law at Harvard University Law School. She worked for Mr. Quayle in 1990 and 1991.

"I'm sure to upset some of the less-conservative members of the commission," Miss Braceras said yesterday. "I think that because they are the majority, they have used the commission as an instrument of agitation. It is an organization that is mismanaged for political purposes."

Miss Braceras, who plans to attend the commission's next meeting, Dec. 7, described herself as a "compassionate conservative."

Miss Braceras' father is federal Judge Jose Cabranes, a Clinton and Carter appointee.

Real competition

"Despite a pledge to renew his commitment to Rhode Island earlier this year, high-profile [Democratic] Rep. Patrick Kennedy seems headed for his most competitive race since being elected in 1994," Roll Call reports.

"The announcement by Rhode Island Department of Human Services Director Christine Ferguson Tuesday that she would resign her post and enter the GOP primary race gives Republicans what they believe to be their best chance to oust the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2002," reporter Chris Cillizza writes.

Poisonous well

"Have New York Democrats learned any lessons from the mayoral debacle of 2001? Or are they crazy enough to continue drinking from the poisonous well of ethnic politics?" New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes.

"The City of New York is going through its toughest period since the Great Depression. Terrorism has left thousands dead. The World Trade Center, the skyline's most distinctive feature, is a mixture of dust and memories. Neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little Italy are struggling to survive. Jobs are vanishing by the scores of thousands. Enormous budget deficits are coming, and perhaps a state takeover of municipal finances as well," Mr. Herbert said.

"The city, as they say, has some issues.

"And yet the last time the Democrats were heard from, they were squabbling over insults to this group and appeals to that crowd, and ugly pictures and nasty phone calls everything except the profoundly important issues of the day.

"Last week, the voters told them to sit down and shut up. Michael Bloomberg, a nominal Republican with astonishingly deep pockets, was elected mayor in a town that has approximately the same percentage of registered Democrats as the Kennedy family.

"Warning bells don't come any louder."

Another Thompson

The brother of former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson announced yesterday he was joining an already crowded field of candidates in the race for governor in 2002.

Ed Thompson, mayor of the small central Wisconsin city of Tomah, said he would run as a Libertarian on a platform of smaller taxes and smaller government, the Associated Press reports.

"I'm no big-time Charlie. I'm just a common hard-working man," he said in his announcement on the steps of the state Capitol in Madison.

He said his decision to run was inspired by the success of Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. Mr. Thompson has worked as a professional poker player, prison cook, snow plow driver and boxer.

Mr. Thompson, who favors legalizing video gambling and legalizing marijuana, said he has raised more than $80,000 in campaign contributions so far.

Mr. Thompson left the Capitol in a 1982 Pace Arrow recreational vehicle nicknamed the "War Wagon" and planned to fly to six other cities in a rented jet to announce his candidacy.

He joins several candidates in the race, including incumbent Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican, and Attorney General Jim Doyle and state Sen. Gary George, both Democrats.

Mr. McCallum, who was lieutenant governor for nearly 14 years, ascended to the post earlier this year when Tommy G. Thompson resigned to become the health and human services secretary.

Ed Thompson said he was a Republican until four years ago when a club he owns was raided for supposedly operating illegal video-gambling machines.

No siesta, please

Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., chairman of the House Republican Conference, had some fun yesterday with the news that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri plan to spend today and tomorrow in Mexico.

"For weeks, the House has been patiently waiting for the Senate leadership to catch up and pass some bills. Today, I open the paper and find out the top two Democrats are packing their bags for Mexico. Ay caramba," Mr. Watts said in a press release.

"The Senate's got a whole lot of work to do. This is not the time for the Democrat leadership to be skipping town when a pile of appropriations bills, an economic-growth package, judicial nominees, an energy plan and a host of other issues sit idly in the hopper."

The Senate is so backed up that Mr. Daschle has suggested Congress may have to remain in session through December, Mr. Watts noted.

"The Speaker has said we'll stick around and work every day to pass an airport-security package and other critical matters of importance to the American people. The Senate needs to get serious and match our offer," Mr. Watts said.

"Hey, Democrat leaders, no siesta for you," he added.

Bad news

When it comes to the war on terrorism, "the only organization that gets a negative rating by the public is the news media," the Gallup Organization reports.

"A majority, 54 percent, disapprove of the way the media are handling the war on terrorism, while 43 percent approve," the polling group said.

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