- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

A stale story
"One of the unnoticed after-effects of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington has been a delay in the planned release of the last and largest media recount of presidential election returns in Florida," National Review White House correspondent Byron York writes at the magazine's Web site (www.nationalreview.com).
"Though it seems strange to contemplate today, as George W. Bush goes about his business as commander in chief, under different circumstances this week would likely have seen a high-profile attempt to renew the question of his legitimacy as president," Mr. York said.
"Before the events of September 11, editors at a consortium of blue-chip news organizations the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN, and others were in the final stages of work on their analysis of voting in Florida's 67 counties. 'We were pretty much homing in [on publication],' says Dan Keating, who is running the project for The Washington Post. Now, the work is on hold, with the newspapers and networks hanging on to the story until a better time. 'At this point, I think it's safe to say that this is not what the world is focused on,' Keating says.
"But whatever happens in coming weeks, the news organizations will have to fight the overwhelming sense that the story, in which they invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, is so over. The country is facing an unprecedented crisis, Bush is president, buoyed by wartime approval ratings of 80-plus percent, and Al Gore has all but disappeared from the national scene. If anyone other than Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe and the editors of the New York Times are interested in the issue of hanging chads, they are not saying so."

Short on time
Bret Schundler, the Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, restarted his campaign Monday, six days after the attack on America had brought politics to a halt.
"Mr. Schundler, the former mayor of Jersey City, called a news conference at his headquarters to say he was resuming the business of politics, but with a new focus: on finding ways to defend the state against terrorism and to speed the rebuilding of the New York and New Jersey regional economy," the New York Times reports.
"Mr. Schundler said he would wait until Saturday to make any public speeches or appearances, but the very act of calling a news conference was a risky move, and several of Mr. Schundler's aides argued strenuously against it, one campaign official said [Monday].
"Mr. Schundler's Democratic opponent, James E. McGrevey, has been all but invisible outside Woodbridge, where he is mayor, since the attack on the World Trade Center [on Sept. 11]. He went to Jersey City with donated food and water, his aides said, and once accompanied firefighters on a ferry over to the rubble of the twin towers. On Sunday, he spoke at an interfaith memorial service in Woodbridge that was not widely publicized."
Reporter David M. Halbfinger added: "Mr. Schundler is in an almost impossible position. The last polls taken before the terrorist attack showed him trailing Mr. McGreevey by 19 percentage points, and time is running out."

A subtle conflict
The new, wartime environment has left Democratic and Republican legislators scrambling, "but the upheaval is placing congressional Democrats in a particularly difficult position," Los Angeles Times reporter Ronald Brownstein wrote yesterday in a front-page news analysis.
"They are reluctant to argue with President Bush about virtually anything during a national crisis, but they are equally reluctant to simply give him everything he wants on issues like spending or the internal-security package the administration is preparing," Mr. Brownstein said.
"Beneath the broad promises of bipartisan cooperation, that concern is producing a subtle conflict between the parties: Republicans are pressing for quick action on an array of administration priorities, while Democrats are looking to defer decisions not essential to the immediate response."
The reporter added: "Some high-ranking Democratic aides believe the contradictory desires to avoid either capitulation or confrontation with Bush may lead some in their party to push for an early congressional adjournment an idea senior Republicans also are discussing."

Witch hunts of the '70s
"Far be it for us to criticize those trying to close the barn after the horse has left. But that's the only way to understand what the Bush administration and Congress are doing with legislation designed to restore intelligence-gathering powers that are indispensable in fighting terrorism," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Had anyone done the same after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center or even October's attack on the USS Cole several thousand American families would not now wear black as they mourn lost loved ones. Though there was existing counterterrorism legislation on the Hill even before last week's attack, congressional sources tell us it will now include provisions designed to remove impediments imposed on CIA, FBI and defense-intelligence agents over the past quarter century," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"The operative word here is 'imposed.' Because the 'intelligence failure' so horribly on display last week is the result of political and legal attacks on our spymakers going back to the 1970s witch hunts of the Church committee. Americans need to understand that a key reason we don't have the intelligence we need to thwart terrorism is that we have spent many years actively discouraging good agents from getting it."
The newspaper said the nation's anti-intelligence posture began 26 years ago with attacks on the CIA by then-Sen. Frank Church, a liberal Democrat from Idaho.

'Forces of repression'
You might think the entire nation would be united in its determination to fight against the terrorists who killed thousands of American in kamikaze attacks last week.
But then there's the International Action Center (IAC).
"The Bush administration is taking advantage of the tragic human toll to strengthen the forces of repression while intensifying the Pentagon's war drive, especially in the Middle East," the IAC declared in a press release yesterday, announcing a Sept. 29 demonstration in Lafayette Park.
"The Bush administration is attempting to take advantage of this crisis to militarize U.S. society with a vast expansion of police powers that is intended to severely restrict basic democratic rights," said the IAC, whose e-mail address is iacenter@iacenter.org.
The IAC has been described as a "front" for the Worker's World Party, a New York-based Marxist group, and has organized "anti-globalization" protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
"On Sept. 29, we had planned to demonstrate against the Bush administration's reactionary foreign and domestic policy and the IMF and World Bank," the group said yesterday. "In light of the current crisis we have refocused the call for our demonstration to address the immediate danger posed by racism and the grave threat of a new war."

The right man
"Would we be better if Clinton were in charge? Is Bush equal to the task?" former Clinton political adviser Dick Morris asks.
"In many ways, Bush falls short, but in this situation, at this time, with this peril, this man is the right one to have in the White House," Mr. Morris writes in the New York Post.
"Clinton is clearly more intelligent, but Bush's mind is clearer, simpler and more easily focused. Where Clinton sees complexity and paralyzing doubts, Bush acts instinctually with a sureness born of self-knowledge and abiding confidence.
"Political considerations dog Clinton's every move, not because he is cynical, but simply because it's how he functions. Bush regards politics as an intrusion and likely loves the clarity and simplicity of a situation in which politics plays no role."

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