- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Eclipsed issues
"Suddenly, national security (encompassing both foreign-policy issues and defense spending) is the nation's No. 1 topic, replacing the shrinking budget surplus and the possible need to dip into Social Security," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes.
"Other high-profile issues, including patients' rights legislation, prescription-drug coverage and campaign-finance reform, as well as Democratic initiatives to increase the minimum wage and punish hate crimes, have been eclipsed, at least in the short term, by a new public focus on national security concerns," Mr. Rothenberg said in Roll Call.
"This change in public priorities automatically works against the Democrats, since it devalues (though does not completely eliminate) some of their best political messages — ones they hoped would enable them to take over the House next year.
"Of course, Democratic leaders are still in a position to argue that recent events prove the Bush tax cut was unwise, since that money could have been used to bolster national defense. But the Republicans have already altered their rationale for the tax rebate, noting that it is just the sort of short-term stimulus that the economy needs.
"Perhaps more important, the terrorist attacks seem to make everything that preceded them ancient history. It's a new day, with new concerns."

Praising Bush
The New York Times' editorial page, one of President Bush's most relentless critics, lavished praise on Mr. Bush yesterday.
"New York City and George W. Bush were never a natural couple until last week. Now Mr. Bush has managed to reach out in ways both symbolic and practical. In its greatest hour of need, the city must be grateful that he rose to the occasion, and demonstrated that he is president of the entire country," the newspaper said.
"Anyone who has watched the president over the last year would have been able to predict that his visit with the rescue workers at the World Trade Center would be a success. Mr. Bush is never better than when he is standing in rough territory in work clothes, talking with working men and women with dirt on their hands. We were frankly less certain that he would show equal sympathy in Washington, when the time came to make a commitment to support the enormous task of beginning restoration of lower Manhattan.
"But the president came through with a commitment that was as quick and as generous as this beleaguered city could have wished. The pleas from Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton — high-profile Democrats who could not possibly be on the administration's list of favorite legislators — were met in toto. The senators asked for $20 billion, and they got $20 billion, without hesitation."

A blaze of spite
"Where slavery and colonialism once imposed inferiority, new freedom has too often only added the fresh embarrassment of inferiority without the excuse of oppression," writes Hoover Institution research fellow Shelby Steele.
"I think the Durban conference [on racism] was inspired by this embarrassment. Its founders realized they would never get reparations of any significance. The wiser among them know that reparations are no answer anyway. I believe this conference — with its almost religious embrace of victimization — wanted to keep racism alive as a face-saving excuse, to let it temper the shame of so much ineffectuality in the face of freedom, so much correlation between independence and decline," Mr. Steele said in the Wall Street Journal.
"Today, the First World is dealing with an embarrassed Third World that is driven to save face against the anguish of an inferiority that is less and less blamable on others. The deep appeal of a Jesse Jackson or a Yasser Arafat, one reason they hang on as leaders despite every kind of public and private failing, is their ability to hide inferiority behind blame, to be the parent who sees no wrong in the child.
"But blame is only the most common defense against this embarrassment. Terrorism is another. The shame of languishing in the midst of freedom generates a touchy, narcissistic sensibility and an abiding faith that, but for the evil of others, one's superiority would be self-evident. The terrorist act is a self-referential event, a self-congratulation that smothers the feeling of inferiority in one glorious blaze of spite.
"Here, finally, is the effectiveness that is so absent elsewhere. Even if you cannot build the World Trade Center's towers — emblems of demonstrable Western superiority — you can come along of a Tuesday morning and, like God himself, strike them down."

The whip race
Largely lost amid news of the attack on America was Rep. David E. Bonior's announcement early last week that he will step down as House minority whip on Jan. 15.
The Michigan Democrat, whose seat has been gerrymandered out from under him by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, is running for governor. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, are competing for the whip's post.

Ad controversy
A California judge has ordered a Washington, D.C.-based taxpayer group that ran television advertisements criticizing Gov. Gray Davis to identify its financial backers.
The American Taxpayers Alliance must register as a political committee in California and reveal its contributors and expenses for the first six months of the year, Judge David Garcia ruled in Sacramento yesterday.
"Basically American Taxpayers Alliance has to play by the same rules that everybody else has to play by," said James Harrison, an attorney representing Mr. Davis' re-election committee.
James Bopp, an attorney for the taxpayer group, said yesterday it will appeal the ruling. The group is not a political committee, he said, but a nonprofit corporation and lobbying group that advocates conservative positions. "The First Amendment fully protects the right of citizens to praise or criticize the conduct of public officials while in office," Mr. Bopp said. "This ruling strikes at the heart of that right."
The ads, which ran for about three weeks, criticized Mr. Davis' handling of the statewide energy crisis and ended with the phrase "Grayouts from Gray Davis." The alliance is headed by Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.

The Perfect European
"You wanna know the Perfect European?" Jay Nordlinger asks at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).
"Here he is, Antonio Martino, representing the Italian government as defense minister. First, he says that under no circumstances will the Italian military join the United States in war. Then he says that the United States must not act without the consent and participation of a broad coalition of allies.
"There he is, folks: the Perfect European."

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