- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

Daschle 'defanged'
Who were the big losers in the Trent Lott affair? According to David Broder of The Washington Post: the Democrats and the media.
"I think there are two losers," Mr. Broder said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," in response to a question from host Tim Russert.
"Tim, I think the Democrats lost ground, in part, my old former Senator Al Simpson from Wyoming said to me, they have defanged [Democratic leader Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota] now. Daschle can stand up there and point his finger and talk about those rotten, evil Republicans, and people are going to see Bill Frist standing across the aisle from him, who doesn't look rotten or evil.
"The other reason I think the Democrats are losers is that, when they had a moral issue in front of them, with President Clinton, they denounced him, but they never acted against him. Indeed, they rallied around him. And I think that contrast is one that people will remember."
Mr. Broder added: "Frankly, also, I think many of us in the news media also did not acquit ourselves terribly well. It took a long time for this story to develop. Many reporters at the event did not write about it in the first instance. And secondly, because we allowed anonymous sources from the administration to use us to take down Senator Lott."
Troubling questions
The New York Times, which, to say the least, has not been friendly toward President Bush and his administration, now is using the Trent Lott brouhaha to urge Mr. Bush to nominate judges more acceptable to the New York Times and its friends on the far left.
"The administration has handed judicial selection over to the Republican Party's right wing," the newspaper said in an editorial yesterday. "This has resulted in the naming of several judges whose views on race raise troubling questions."
The newspaper proceeded to list by name a number of conservatives whose dedication to equal rights has never been questioned except by far-left groups such as People for the American Way.
The newspaper urged "close scrutiny" of those whose integrity it had just demeaned, although it might just as well have asked: Are you now, or have you ever been, a racist?
Happy holidays
Bill Clinton "brought his special brand of crinkly-eyed malice" to the Trent Lott story last week, Peggy Noonan writes, "telling CNN that the growing opposition to Mr. Lott within the GOP is 'hypocritical' because, after all, Republicans are racists anyway.
"Or rather, 'I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy.' And 'he just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the back roads every day.' This from the man who gave that old segregationist J. William Fulbright the Presidential Medal of Freedom," Miss Noonan said at www.opinionjournal.com.
"You could almost see Mr. Clinton's mind whirling as Jonathan Karl interviewed him. Hmm, I could be high-minded and speak thoughtfully during what amounts to a public crisis, or I can play gut-ball politics and slam the enemy. No contest. Way to go, Bill, and happy holidays from a grateful nation."
'Strong leader'
Three-fourths of Americans believe that President George W. Bush is a "strong leader," according to a poll released yesterday.
Two-thirds of those asked approved of Mr. Bush's performance as president, according to a poll from The Washington Post-ABC News.
The poll also shows that 79 percent approved of the Republican president's policies on national strength including seven out of 10 Democrats.
Two-thirds were satisfied with Mr. Bush's efforts to protect national security.
Calio's successor
"David Hobbs has been tapped to succeed Nick Calio as the head of White House legislative affairs," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"A former top aide to recently retired House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, Hobbs is very highly respected on Capitol Hill and among key Republican constituency groups because of his knowledge of the legislative process and his reputation as someone who can bring people together and get things done," the wire service said.
"Ziad Ojakli, currently the top White House liaison to the Senate, has been elevated to the No. 2 spot in place of Jack Howard, a former aide to both Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich, who also turned in his resignation this [past] week.
"What may have tipped the balance in favor of Hobbs, aside from the ties he shares to Texas with several important administration officials, is the fact that he also ran for Congress in the Dallas/Fort Worth area a few years back. The thinking is that he, more than others who were suggested for the post, possesses a special sensitivity to the needs of legislators, especially around election time."
Election probe
The FBI has seized ballots cast in the primary and general elections in one Nevada county after accusations of improprieties were made.
"There is an ongoing investigation into election fraud, but I can't go into any details due to the nature of the investigation," FBI spokesman Daron Borst said Friday from Las Vegas.
Eureka County Clerk-Treasurer Mary Jo Castaneda said ballots from both elections were seized Nov. 18 after a complaint was made about the residency of about 85 voters.
A source familiar with the accusations who asked not to be identified said questions were raised about whether some of the voters lived in the county and whether others were even alive, the Associated Press reports.
Miss Castaneda said it was her understanding some of the voters had moved to another home in Eureka County, but Mr. Borst said the challenges went beyond simple post-election gripes.
"To open one of these investigations requires Department of Justice approval, so it's not based on a mere allegation of wrongdoing by a disgruntled candidate or citizen," he said.
In the display case
Former President Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize medal is going on display at the Carter Library in Atlanta.
Mr. Carter received the medal in Oslo earlier this month for "his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
After he returned to the United States, Mr. Carter said the medal should be shown publicly as soon as possible, said Jay Hakes, director of the library and museum in Atlanta.
The display will include the diploma awarded to Mr. Carter at the Peace Prize ceremonies, the Associated Press reports.
Unhappy reader
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says there were few low points during his first year in office unless you figure in some newspaper accounts.
"There are days when you wake up and you read the newspapers and you want to shoot yourself," Mr. Bloomberg said during his final weekly radio show of 2002. "I'm always fascinated to find out where I was yesterday and what I said."
Still, the mayor said the press had been fairly good to him, and that he was "the luckiest person in the world to get the greatest job in the world," the Associated Press reports.

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