Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s recent letter to a Saudi prince in which she bashed Israel and begged for money to be used exclusively for poor black people in the United States did not sit well with Democratic consultant Chris LaPetina, who wonders why his party has given a pass to the Georgia Democrat.
Miss McKinney made her entreaty to Prince Alwaleed bin Tala after New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani turned down a $10 million check because the Saudi had tried to link the September 11 terrorist attacks to U.S. support for Israel.
Mr. LaPetina, in a “Dear Fellow Democrat” letter published yesterday by United Press International, said:
“As a registered Democrat who makes his living as a consultant to my party’s candidates, these words should be absent of angst. Not this time however, because this time I am writing to my fellow Democrat, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga.
“The way I see it, Ms. McKinney, one of us needs to leave our party.
“One of us is completely out of touch with the institution created by the Thomas Jefferson, which still, I believe, best represents the political interests of the vast majority of Americans.
“I find it impossible to believe that any elected official who has a ‘D’ after his or her name could reveal themselves as racist, anti-Semitic, anti-American and just plain dumb all in just a couple of weeks.
“But, like I said, maybe I’m the one who is out of touch. Criticism of you from within the party has been hard to find. Let me start and maybe I will trigger something over at the Democratic National Committee.”
Mr. LaPetina added: “Maybe I’m the dumb one and you represent the majority of the Democratic Party. I sure hope not, but with all the silence, I can’t really tell.”
Ending weeks of speculation, Rep. Bernie Sanders, one of only two independents in the House, ruled out a run for governor and announced instead yesterday that he will seek re-election.
Mr. Sanders, who has held Vermont’s lone seat in the House for 11 years, said he felt he could be more effective staying in Congress in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Associated Press reports.
After Democratic Gov. Howard Dean announced in September that he would not seek re-election in 2002, Mr. Sanders said he was giving serious thought to running for governor.
Mr. Sanders, a socialist, is usually considered a sure vote for the Democrats. The only other independent in the House is Virgil H. Goode Jr. of Virginia, who usually sides with the Republicans.
Lt. Gov. Douglas Racine is the only announced Democrat in the race for governor. State Treasurer James Douglas is considered the Republican front-runner.
Riordan enters race
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan officially entered the California governor’s race yesterday, joining the field of Republicans seeking the nomination to unseat Democrat Gray Davis.
“I’m running for governor for a very simple reason I love California,” Mr. Riordan, 71, said at rally in Los Angeles after being introduced by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A poll last month showed Mr. Riordan roughly even with Mr. Davis but ahead of his two likely Republican rivals in the March primary, the Associated Press reports.
Republican opponent Secretary of State Bill Jones has seized on Mr. Riordan’s ties to Democrats including more than $1 million in campaign donations over the years to question whether the mayor is a committed Republican.
The third major Republican candidate is Los Angeles businessman William Simon, who was encouraged to run by Mr. Riordan before he decided to get into the race himself.
A changed landscape
If the 2000 presidential election were held today, Republican George W. Bush would sweep to victory, USA Today reports.
“The political landscape is unrecognizable compared with 12 months ago. Most Americans no longer view the 2000 presidential election as a constitutional crisis or major problem, as most did last December. If the election were held today, President Bush would not have to worry abut a few hundred votes in Florida he’d be the flat-out winner over Democrat Al Gore, by 61 percent to 35 percent, according to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll of 1,012 adults,” reporters Jill Lawrence and Jim Drinkard write.
The reporters added: “What haven’t happened are the changes one would expect after the mechanics of democracy, such as voting equipment and ballot design, failed in spectacular fashion.” Most people who voted in yesterday’s off-year elections were using the same voting machines and procedures as last time, and that certainly will be the case in the 2002 elections.
“We have always rallied around our leader in a time of crisis, but the continuing and even rising ratings for Bush reflect more than a genuflection to authority in a moment of stress,” New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.
“Americans feel George W. Bush is growing before our eyes and reflect an increased admiration for their president in polls,” Mr. Morris said.
“According to the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey of Nov. 1, Bush’s job approval rating at 84 percent is even higher than the 80 percent he got in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Confounding fears that he was not up to the job, 59 percent of all Americans, including 57 percent of Democrats, say Bush is doing better as president than they expected, while only 3 percent say he is not living up to expectations. By 56 [percent] to 5 [percent], they say that Bush is a ‘stronger leader’ than they had thought he would be.”
The columnist, citing the patience of the American people expressed in that same poll, added: “George Bush is growing, and America is maturing before our eyes. Our political environment and our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history. It won’t go back any time soon.”
Gary Bauer, the social conservative who sought the Republican presidential nomination last year, announced yesterday that his group, American Values, is forming the Citizens’ Committee to Win the War.
“In the last five weeks, I’ve traveled widely around the country and found a renewed patriotism and resurgence of faith. But I’ve also found a deep frustration among average Americans who don’t know what they can do to make a difference for their country,” Mr. Bauer said in a prepared statement.
“They don’t just want to hear about terrorist alerts and anthrax mailings and be told to go about their business as usual. They want to help. They want to make a difference. They want an agenda. And the Citizens’ Committee will provide that,” he said.
The committee will “provide average Americans with ways that they can encourage our military and support the morale of our sons and daughters in harm’s way,” the press release said, and “alert our citizens on the status of public-policy debates in Washington that directly affects the war effort,” such as defense spending, immigration reform, air safety, and vaccine availability.
The only problem
“Both Rep. Edward J. Markey and newly elected Rep. Stephen F. Lynch engaged in a bit of revisionism last week in the hours around the new congressman’s swearing-in ceremony,” the Boston Globe reports, referring to two Massachusetts Democrats.
“Lynch, who faces the challenge of filling the shoes of the late Rep. J. Joseph Moakley, told reporters he took comfort in his predecessor’s reminder that he had a similar tall order when he took over in Congress for the late House Speaker John W. McCormack. Markey noted the same McCormack-to-Moakley-to-Lynch lineage when he introduced Lynch to the other 434 members of Congress before the current House Speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, administered the oath,” the newspaper said.
“The only problem is that Moakley did not succeed McCormack, but Louise Day Hicks, who succeeded the former speaker for one term from 1971 to 1973.”