- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Vermont shake-up
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a doctor who championed child health care and ushered in a law allowing same-sex unions, said yesterday he will not seek re-election next year.
At a news conference on the Statehouse lawn, the Democratic governor said he had accomplished what he set out to do. "The baton has to be passed sometime," Mr. Dean said.
"What we have done is extraordinary," he added, and detailed what he saw as his accomplishments, placing at the top of the list his decade-long emphasis on children's issues, including health care and early education.
Mr. Dean told his Cabinet of his plans at a meeting earlier yesterday morning and received a standing ovation, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Dean, 52, became governor in 1991 when Gov. Richard Snelling died in office.
A former chairman of the National Governors Association, Mr. Dean previously has flirted with a presidential bid. Analysts suspect he may run for president in 2004.
Two Republicans, state Treasurer Jim Douglas and former Human Services Secretary Cornelius Hogan, already are campaigning for the governor's office. Two Democrats, Lt. Gov. Douglas Racine and state Sen. Peter Shumlin, have indicated they would run if Mr. Dean did not. A Progressive, Anthony Pollina, who ran last year, is also expected to seek the office again.

North Carolina hopefuls
The field of hopefuls is shifting in next year's U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, McClatchy Newspapers reports.
On the Democratic side, former U.S. Ambassador Mark Erwin of Charlotte announced Tuesday that he won't run and former state Sen. Clark Plexico confirmed that he is taking a serious look at the 2002 race.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, a woman from Salisbury, N.C., announced that she will join the field, but it wasn't Elizabeth Dole, who may say more about her intentions by the end of this week.
Ada Fisher, a retired physician and educator, announced her long-shot candidacy Monday on the steps of the Rowan County library. She will face former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot in the Republican primary and possibly several other contenders.
There is speculation in Republican circles that Mrs. Dole will announce this week that she is forming an exploratory committee.
The move would allow her to continue traveling and gauging interest among Republican activists without formally becoming a candidate at this point.
Other Republicans eyeing retiring Sen. Jesse Helms' seat include U.S. Rep. Richard M. Burr of Winston-Salem, former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth of Clinton, and Lexington lawyer Jim Snyder.

Ricochet shot
"In pool it would be called a ricochet shot: Al Sharpton's endorsement of Fernando Ferrer assures that Mark Green will be New York's next mayor," New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.
"Sharpton's backing guarantees that Ferrer will make the runoff against Green — and also makes it impossible for him to win it," Mr. Morris said.
"In defining himself as the Sharpton candidate, Ferrer has assured that he will add enough black votes to his Hispanic base to make the runoff. Alan Hevesi, who is crashing and burning, and Peter Vallone, whose white ethnic base is just not big enough, will come up short," the columnist said of the other Democratic candidates for mayor.
"But by falling into Sharpton's embrace, Ferrer has made himself unacceptable to white voters, guaranteeing his defeat in the runoff."

The Nostalgia Party
"The Democratic National Committee recently test-marketed its pre-election themes in a back-to-the-future commercial that ran in a few media markets," USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro writes.
"In the ad, a picture of a long-dead Democratic president flashes on the screen as the narrator declares: 'The Bush budget violated one of Harry Truman's basic principles: protecting our seniors. The Bush budget raids the Medicare trust fund. Now he's using gimmicks to hide a raid on Social Security.' …
"What is revealing about this TV spot is how easily the Democrats fall back on the politics of nostalgia, portraying themselves as the vigilant defenders of Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security and Lyndon Johnson's Medicare. Medicare passed Congress 37 years ago, and it sometimes seems as if Democrats have been resting on their laurels since then. But the Democrats are veteran warriors on the barricades of Social Security; they perfected this survival technique back in 1982," Mr. Shapiro said.
"… You almost get the feeling that every Democratic congressional candidate is handed a fire alarm with the instructions: 'In political emergency, break glass and scream, Social Security.'"

The Stupid Party
"Long ago, the Republican Party was nicknamed the 'Stupid Party,' and at times Republicans have done their best to live up to the label. But after the past week, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that when it comes to brainless, self-destructive behavior, the Democratic Party has achieved a level of excellence that will be unsurpassed in our lifetime," David Brooks writes in the Weekly Standard.
Mr. Brooks was referring to what he called the "collective aneurysm" suffered by Democrats at news that this year's federal budget surplus is now smaller than projected.
"If you closed your eyes last week and listened to the hysterical charges coming from Democratic mouths, and to the sound of the shuffling press conference props, you might have thought that Ross Perot had taken over the Democratic Party. But even if he was a little wacky, Perot at least hyperventilated about deficits when the U.S. government was actually running them. Dick Gephardt et al. are hyperventilating about fiscal rectitude in a time of surpluses."
By becoming a party that believes in green eyeshade accounting, "Everything liberals hold dear — education spending, anti-poverty spending, subsidies for offensive art — is being subjected to a steady squeeze by these rapacious entitlement programs" such as Social Security, Mr. Brooks said.
"This is a world in which liberalism ceases to be a progressive force. Unable to launch new initiatives, Democrats will sit around in their musty studies with portraits of Harry Hopkins on the wall and blunderbusses on their knees, in case anybody ever mentions Social Security reform."

Psychic legislator
During a morning devotional message, a Georgia state legislator told her House colleagues that she can communicate with the dead and has been "visited" by missing former intern Chandra Levy.
Rep. Dorothy B. Pelote told fellow lawmakers that she has psychic abilities, the Associated Press reports.
"The last person who visited me was — I don't know if I need to call her name," the Savannah Democrat said from the speaker's rostrum. "Maybe I should not, because it's a controversial death now. She's missing. You know who I'm talking about. She has visited me. She has."
Ms. Pelote did not mention Miss Levy's name on the House floor but confirmed later to the Macon Telegraph that she was referring to the 24-year-old California woman who has been missing since April 30.
Ms. Pelote, a former teacher elected in 1992, told lawmakers her psychic experiences began after she nearly drowned as a child.
She had a vision of a bright fireball in the sky and later began having visions of dead people, she said.
"And the older I get, the stronger it becomes," Ms. Pelote said.

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