- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

McCain vs. Torricelli

"In case getting 'severely admonished' for his lousy ethics wasn't bad enough, Sen. Bob Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, now finds himself going head to head with Mr. Clean: Sen. John McCain," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Which is a lot more dangerous than going head to head with 'the Torch's' real Republican challenger, Doug Forrester," Miss Orin said.

"McCain, [Arizona Republican], the man from the Straight Talk Express, [Wednesday] said all the Senate ethics records that led to the whack on the wrist for Torricelli ought to be out there in public.

"'It's information that led to the decision, just as it was during the Keating Five. I think it was probably the appropriate way to do it,' said McCain, who knows full well, since he got admonished in that savings-and-loan scandal.

"No one can accuse McCain of hypocrisy. All the information on the Keating Five influence-peddling scandal was released and he went all over Arizona answering any question that anyone wanted to ask him.

"So far, that's not at all what the Torch wants to do. He's stonewalled calls to release the transcript of his sworn testimony to the ethics panel, and his campaign had no comment [Wednesday] night on McCain's remarks."


Hailing weak minds

Gov. Jesse Ventura's office said this week the state's staunchly secular governor mistakenly proclaimed a week in October to be "Christian Heritage Week."

Mr. Ventura's office tried unsuccessfully to undo the proclamation it accidentally submitted Wednesday along with 16 others to the secretary of state's office, the Associated Press reports.

"Somehow it got in the wrong pile," Ventura spokesman John Wodele said. "It would not have been approved."

It's too late to do anything about it now, said Kent Kaiser, spokesman for Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.

"There is no deproclamatizing. Once it's filed, it's filed," Mr. Kaiser said. "It's not like every time they send something we call over and ask, 'Did you mean it?'"

The order, bearing Mr. Ventura's signature, runs counter to his long-standing opposition to religion, which he once called "a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."

Tom Prichard, the Minnesota Family Council president, called the mix-up poetic justice.

"Inadvertently, or providentially some might say, he's recognized the role of faith and religion in our society," he said. "We'll gladly accept that."


Ambiguous statement

"So having been 'severely admonished' by the Senate ethics committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Torricelli has now apologized. In other words, he's admitted he's been lying all along," the Wall Street Journal says.

"That's the only possible conclusion after the six bipartisan committee members cited him for accepting gifts in violation of Senate rules. For months, Mr. Torricelli has been saying he received no gifts, which was a change from his earlier story that while he might have received gifts they weren't 'illegal' because they came from a friend. But after his admonishment he said, 'I agree with the committee's conclusions, fully accept their findings and take full personal responsibility,'" the newspaper observed in an editorial.

"Or does he? In the very next sentence of his statement on the Senate floor, Mr. Torricelli added that, 'It has always been my contention that I believe that at no time did I accept any gifts or violate any Senate rules.' No doubt the senator worked hard to sculpt that lapidary ambiguity. But allow us to translate: I was lying, but I got caught."


Repeating an untruth

"The major nomination fight of the moment concerns Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, who is accused of being an anti-abortion zealot because she declined to punch holes in a Texas parental-notification law," Ramesh Ponnuru writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"Jason Zengerle has a weaselly piece in the latest New Republic making this case against Owen. To make the case that President Bush has an unprecedented abortion litmus test, for example, he glosses over Clinton's explicit pro-abortion litmus test for judicial nominations which was something he promised during his campaign. Zengerle also repeats a standard talking point against Owen: In one parental-notification case, her fellow justice Alberto Gonzales now the White House counsel 'blast[ed] Owen's position as an 'unconscionable act of judicial activism.'

"In fact, as Terry Eastland pointed out in the Dallas Morning News last week, Gonzales' criticism was directed at another justice, Nathan Hecht. Gonzales was in the majority in the series of rulings in the parental-notification case. Hecht, a dissenter, wrote a rather intemperate criticism of the majority as activist. Gonzales' rhetoric was a response to Hecht. Owen took a position different both from that of Gonzales and from that of Hecht.

"There is no reason for Republicans to be on the defensive about Owen or about parental-notification laws, which command the support of an overwhelming majority of the public."


Take a memo

National Journal's Hotline reported yesterday:

"If you had any doubt about the instability of the current political climate, then take a memo. In fact, two memos one Dem, one GOP are making the rounds today on ways for each party to stay/get on the offensive when it comes to the politics of corporate corruption.

"From [James] Carville/[Bob] Shrum/[Stanley] Greenberg's Monthly Memo: 'Taking the battle over corporate irresponsibility to four new fronts' where GOPers 'are in a weaker position': 1) Bush's corporate ties; 2) Move the issue to GOP handling of the economy; 3) Talk up pensions issue; 4) link it all to Social Security 'the most important extension' of the issue.

"From [National Republican Senatorial Committee's] [Mitch] Bainwol Memo: 'The Democrats have adopted a strategy to make corporate irresponsibility a political rather than a criminal issue. They believe they can convince Americans that Republicans are responsible for the criminal activities' by corporations. The lengthy memo details just about every contribution any Dem senator or Dem Senate challenger has received from questionable corporations and gives managers plenty of fodder for press hits and TV ads."


Disenfranchised

The graveyard vote no longer exists in Alabama.

The state just completed a 13-year project to clean up the voter rolls by removing more than 150,000 voters who had died. Another 50,000 were taken off because they had moved away, the Associated Press reports.

"Clean voter lists are essential to honest elections. Our voter lists are as clean now as they've been in 100 years," Secretary of State Jim Bennett said.

Mr. Bennett, a former state senator, sponsored the legislation in 1989 that called for voter rolls to be cleaned up and computerized. A lack of funding stretched out the project nine years longer than planned.

It was completed last week, making Alabama one of 40 states with completely computerized records.


Beyond parody

"I just loved this New York Times lead, under the byline of its incomparable White House correspondent, Elisabeth Bumiller," Jay Nordlinger writes in his Impromptus column at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com). "See if you love it equally:

"'President Bush directed unusually harsh criticism at the Senate today for its version of a welfare bill, which he said would hurt the people it was trying to help. Almost immediately afterward, he collected more than $1 million at a Republican fund-raiser.'

"Andrew Sullivan (and others) are right. You just can't parody even really tease the Times anymore," Mr. Nordlinger said.

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