- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

Not a 'true Christian'?

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz says President Bush is not a "true Christian."

Tony Snow of Fox News, in an interview in Baghdad yesterday, said to Mr. Aziz, "You're a Christian, George W. Bush is a Christian and he often talks about the importance of his religion. Christian and Christian, what would you tell him?"

Mr. Aziz replied, "I don't believe that he's a true Christian. If he were, I would say something about that."

The Iraqi added: "He's a hypocrite because a true Christian wouldn't be a warmonger. Would not push for the destruction of countries and killings of people. A true Christian would not send tens of thousands of his own young men and women to a war which does not serve the real interests of the United States as a peaceful, loving nation and which is contrary to the basics of the Christian faith.

"That's why the church in the United States is against the war," Mr. Aziz said in what may have been a reference to the Catholic bishops and some Protestant groups that have said war against Iraq is not yet justified.

The interview will be shown this weekend on "Fox News Sunday."

Gore's mood

"In a notable shift of sentiment, several associates of former Vice President Al Gore said [Wednesday] that they were becoming increasingly convinced that he would not run for president in 2004 and would instead announce in early January that he was stepping aside to allow a new face to challenge President Bush," the New York Times reports.

"These associates emphasized that Mr. Gore had not told them his intentions and that in fact he had not made up his own mind. Given his bitter loss in the presidential election of 2000 and frequent criticism of Mr. Bush, they cautioned, he could still 'wake up one morning and decide to run,' as one put it.

"But in interviews, a half-dozen friends, advisers and other close associates of Mr. Gore, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity and many of whom expressed a wish that he would run, said his demeanor and actions since Election Day had convinced them that this was becoming increasingly unlikely," reporter Adam Nagourney writes.

"That assessment was starkly different from those previously voiced by Mr. Gore's friends, who had said they expected a run."

Silly argument

"Democrats, and many members of the national media, have spent more than a month arguing that the Republicans did as well as they did because the Democratic Party ran an 'issueless campaign.' It's time to reject that silly argument," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

"In fact, the Democratic message was very much about a set of national issues, but it failed to move voters," Mr. Rothenberg said.

"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent more than $76 million, much of it on TV spots that attacked Republicans on corporate accountability, Social Security, prescription drugs and the economy. Anyone who watched dozens and dozens of those television spots couldn't possibly believe that the Democratic Party soft-pedaled issues.

"In addition to the party [campaign] committees, Democratic House and Senate candidates hammered away against their Republican opponents in the free media, as well as in their own advertising, using many of the same issues and themes."

Absentee votes

"So Republican Bob Beauprez has won the Colorado 7th Congressional District, beating his Democratic challenger, Mike Feeley, by 121 votes. The fact that the GOP has widened its margin in the House by one is no biggie, given that Beauprez has already been voting inside the Republican caucus for the past three weeks on policy issues. No, the big headline should be that what won the election for Republicans was absentee ballots," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.

"Beauprez's narrow victory by a little more than 100 out of more than 163,000 ballots cast should be a light bulb that pops over a lot of Republican strategists' heads. That's because if the Election Day vote had been used to determine who won the seat, Colorado's 7th would have gone to Feeley. He won more votes on election day. It was absentees who pushed Beauprez over the top," the columnist said.

"It used to be that absentee ballots were the mother's milk for GOP candidates in tight or seemingly unwinnable races are you reading this Bill Simon Jr.? but in recent years, in part due to costs and coordination challenges, Republicans have not spent the capital to ensure winning the absentee-ballot battle."

'Reform' rejected

A federal judge has struck down a major overhaul of Wisconsin's campaign-finance laws, ruling one provision placed unconstitutional restrictions on the ads political groups can run in the final days of an election.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's decision strikes down all but one of the campaign reforms signed by Gov. Scott McCallum in the summer. The changes were the most significant to the state's campaign-finance laws in 25 years.

The reform package, set to take effect next year, included a clause requiring most of the reforms to be thrown out if any section was found unconstitutional. Critics predicted the reforms would fail because lawmakers included portions they knew would be struck down, the Associated Press reports.

"We knew right away this thing was doomed," said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. "The nonseverability clause demonstrated the leaders were never serious about reform."

Kissinger off the hook

The White House said Henry Kissinger, who has been tapped by President Bush to lead an independent probe of the September 11 terrorist attacks, does not need to disclose his client list for potential conflicts of interest.

The Bush administration has told the Senate Select Committee on Ethics that Mr. Kissinger is not required to disclose clients of his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., because he is an executive branch appointee in a part-time and unpaid position, the New York Times reports.

Mr. Bush's choice of Mr. Kissinger led to criticism in some quarters because of Mr. Kissinger's policy-making role during the Vietnam War and the bombing of Cambodia, as well as his current work as a high-priced private international consultant.

Senate Democratic aides, however, insist that since the commission was created by Congress, all panelists must comply with congressional rules on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, the newspaper said.

The commission is being created to investigate potential intelligence, aviation security, immigration, or other policy lapses related to the attacks on New York and the Pentagon last year.

The White House counsel's office has obtained an opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel supporting the White House position, a White House official said.

"It is our hope this will be resolved through continued discussion, not political grandstanding," the newspaper quoted the White House official as saying.

Dry humor

"Remember Irene Smith? She's the St. Louis alderman who, as we noted in July 2001, allegedly urinated in a wastebasket during a filibuster," James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.opinionjournal.com.

"Prosecutors charged her with lewd conduct, a misdemeanor, and [Wednesday] a jury found her not guilty. The Associated Press reports that upon her acquittal, she 'voiced relief.' You've gotta love that Midwestern sense of humor. It's so dry."

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