- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

For the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Inside the Beltway begins with a political story: Voter turnout in the 2000 presidential election was up 2.2 percentage points, to 51.2 percent of the eligible electorate.
In all, 105,399,313 citizens voted up from the 96,277,872 (49 percent of eligibles) who voted in 1996, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE).
Close contests, statewide and national, helped bring the voters out. Turnout increased by 3.4 percentage points in the 16 so-called "battleground states," where both parties poured the majority of their resources because of tight races.
So, does the increased turnout mean the glass is half-full or half-empty?
"Despite the third-closest election in numerical terms in 125 years, the second-closest in percentage terms and the closest in Electoral College vote; despite the fact that this closeness was advertised ad nauseam in pre-election polls; despite the fact that more money was spent than in any election in American history; and despite the fact that both the U.S. Senate and House were up for grabs in this election, nearly half the nation failed to vote," says CSAE director Curtis Gans.
"While the turnout in 2000 was not as was the 1996 turnout the lowest since 1924, it was the fourth lowest. The turnouts of 1996, 1988 and 1948 were lower."[Tomorrow: Republicans outorganize Democrats].

Capitol response
Terrorism is the topic on Capitol Hill, as it should be.
This morning, the newly empaneled subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security will get down to business, "defining terrorism and responding to the terrorist threat."
Three of the first called to testify: leading terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman of the Rand Corp., author of "Inside Terrorism"; Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, chairman of the advisory panel to assess domestic terrorism; and L. Paul Bremmer III, chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism and former ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism.

All but our enemies
"First and foremost, we must protect our people our children, our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and neighbors."
Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, who was appointed yesterday to head a new House task force on homeland security.

Saving his job
FedEx Corp. says its founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Frederick W. Smith a Marine Corps aviator in Vietnam and fraternity brother of President George W. Bush at Yale had no say in the company's decision to pull advertising on ABC's "Politically Incorrect," after host Bill Maher took a swipe at the U.S. military, while praising the bravery of the terrorists who struck Sept. 11.
"We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly," said Mr. Maher. "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
FedEx spokeswoman Carla Richards said despite Mr. Smith's military background (he's also co-chairman of the U.S. World War II Memorial Project) and closeness to the president (Mr. Bush had considered nominating him to the post of defense secretary), it was FedEx customers who demanded the advertising be pulled.
The decision, she said, was made solely by FedEx marketing veep Brian Philips. She did acknowledge, however, that the FedEx family "certainly has quite a few military backgrounds."
Meanwhile, National Journal's Howard Mortman tells Inside the Beltway he's issuing a public defense of Mr. Maher in today's "Extreme Mortman" column.
"I count 10 cities, including Washington, D.C., where his show has gone dark," says Mr. Mortman. "The loss of affiliates, viewers, and advertisers Sears and FedEx is a serious concern for ABC and Disney. But is this really a serious matter, or a silly firestorm about a throwaway line?
"Maher called me last week with his side of the story," he continues. "He was in the midst of a quickly assembled public relations offensive, no doubt motivated in part to save his job. The essence of Maher's argument is this: He did not intend to include the military in the 'we.' He meant the policy-makers and politicians, who didn't aggressively pursue the bad guys despite mounting evidence of threats
"For the record, I don't agree with Maher's statement. But neither do I think his opinion is irrational, juvenile, unfounded, or dangerous. And it's hardly inconsistent with punditry on previous U.S. military missions it's certainly in line with criticism leveled against President Clinton and NATO for launching high-altitude bombings of Kosovo in the spring of 1999."
More of Mr. Mortman's take is free for the reading at hotlinescoop.com.

Give U.S. a bone
To the tune of "Knickknack Paddywhack," forwarded by Larry Stein:
"It's a flimflam,
"Send Bin Laden home,
"Or the age you live in will be stone."

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