- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Unhappy Republicans

"America is just wild about George W. Bush right now but some Republicans are starting to grump because their hottest political asset refuses to play any politics at all," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Until Sept. 11, Bush had pledged to come help New Jersey GOP gubernatorial wannabe Brett Schundler, and both Bush and Vice President Cheney were due to stump for the GOP candidate for Virginia governor," Miss Orin said.

"Now, all that's off," and Mr. Bush decided to skip last night's $1 million fund-raiser in Washington for Republican governors, although Mr. Cheney appeared in his place.

"Discontented Republicans argue (privately, for fear of repercussions) that Bush is unilaterally disarming on the political front, while Democrats unite behind him for the terror war but still, for instance, stall his judgeship nominees and education reforms for political reasons," Miss Orin said.

"They contend that if Republicans lose both governors' races this fall, along with the New York mayor's race, Dems will get bragging rights which will help them battle Bush in Congress on domestic issues."

However, Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who is in charge of holding the Republican majority in the House, told the columnist that Mr. Bush is "doing the right thing" by concentrating on the war against terrorism rather than domestic politics.

New Jersey equation

"In less than two weeks, New Jersey voters will head to the polls to elect a new governor and fill both houses of the state legislature. The main question now is, how good a year will it be for the Democrats?" political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

"Although Democratic nominee Jim McGreevey remains the favorite over Republican Bret Schundler in the gubernatorial race and the Democrats appear headed for a takeover of the state Assembly, Democratic prospects to win the state Senate have clearly faded," Mr. Rothenberg said.

"Polls (both public and private) have consistently shown McGreevey under the critical 50 percent mark, but with a relatively comfortable double-digit lead. A mid-October Newark Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll of likely voters found McGreevey leading Schundler 45 percent to 33 percent (50 percent to 38 percent when 'leaners' were included).

"But the gubernatorial contest is getting virtually no attention in the state media and surveys show that many voters haven't yet focused on it. They've had other things on their minds. Some Republicans (and even a few Democrats) believe that the combination of McGreevey's failure to put away the race and the public's lack of attention gives their man an opportunity to overtake the front-runner in the campaign's final days."

Conspiracy theory

"Hollywood's Harry and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, longtime supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton, are reportedly hard at work on a film documenting the efforts of the so-called 'vast right-wing conspiracy,'" United Press International reports in its "Capitol Comment" column.

"The reportedly $2 million film will follow the book 'The Hunting of the President,' by fellow [Friends of Bill] Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, well known for their editorial support of the former Arkansans. The Thomasons were frequent guests in the Clinton White House, with Harry having produced the presidential inaugural and Linda once having been photographed jumping on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom alongside actress Markie Post."

Political grandstanding

"The circus tents have folded, at least for the time being. [On Wednesday] Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced a deal to buy the anti-anthrax antibiotic Cipro from its maker, Bayer AG. But we can't let this sensible event pass without a few words about the amazing political grandstanding that preceded it. You'd think Bayer had spread the anthrax, instead of selling a cure for it," the Wall Street Journal says.

"First up was the Canadian national health service the same folks who bring you long lines for routine health care that simply ignored Bayer's patent on Cipro and bought a million tablets from a generic manufacturer. Then came inevitably New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who made his own patented lunge for the TV cameras to urge that the U.S. also ignore Bayer's property right. This coup de theatre was followed by Tommy Thompson's threat to override Bayer's patent if the company didn't meet his price," the newspaper noted in an editorial.

"This would merely be the usual federal folly except for one thing: Patents are the foundation of the U.S. drug industry," which the nation is depending on to produce vaccines against at least 15 different possible bioterrorist substances. "So somebody might explain to the political grandstanders that drug patent rights aren't a menace to national security; they're essential to it."

Don't tread on me

Michael Ledeen has named Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. "Buffoon of the Day," in honor of the Delaware Democrat's declaration that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan must end soon or else American forces will look like "high-tech bullies."

Mr. Ledeen, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said "there are a few suppressed assumptions and a hidden agenda lurking beneath his warning."

In his speech Monday to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Biden implied "that it's somehow unfair for us to smash away at the Taliban without giving them a chance to smash us back," Mr. Ledeen writes in National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

Mr. Biden makes the mistake of assuming "moral equivalence" between the United States and its terrorist enemies, Mr. Ledeen said.

"We do not want to duke it out with the terror network according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules; we want to grab the terrorists and throw them against the wall," according to Mr. Ledeen. "And we want to show them, and anyone else who might contemplate a murderous assault against America or Americans, that they better not mess with us, because they won't survive it."

Mrs. Condit speaks out

Rep. Gary A. Condit's wife broke her silence for the first time since her husband's affair with a missing intern became public six months ago, telling a crowd: "I'm behind Gary 100 percent, and I hope you will be, too."

Carolyn Condit spoke Wednesday to about 600 people in Merced, Calif. including two who are running for her husband's House seat as she accepted a plaque honoring the Democratic congressman's contributions to the future University of California campus in Merced.

Mr. Condit did not attend because Congress is in session, the Associated Press reports.

The university also honored his potential opponents, Republican state Sen. Dick Monteith and state Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza.

Mr. Condit has not formally announced his plans for re-election, but is collecting signatures to waive a ballot fee.

Republican City Council member Bill Conrad and Democrat Tom Ciccarelli, head of a Modesto charity, have also announced they are running.

Levin's demand

"As the battle over judicial nominations heats up, reports coming from Capitol Hill say that U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, wants to stop new judges from being added to the 6th Federal Circuit," United Press International reports.

"He reportedly has asked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, Vermont Democrat, to refrain from taking up the issues of 6th Federal Circuit judicial nominees as long as the White House refuses to renominate two women whom Bill Clinton had picked for spots on the same bench."

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