- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Then and now
"Don't you just love Northern liberals beating up on them racist Southerners?" leftist Alexander Cockburn writes in the Nation.
"It seems one of the benchmarks of enlightenment is whether a politician voted for a Martin Luther King Day. Here's the New York Times editorializing on December 10 of 1982: 'Why not a Martin Luther King Day? Dr. King, a humble man, would have objected to giving that much importance to any individual. Nor should he be given singular tribute if that demeans other historical black figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X.'"
"In other words, give one of them a holiday and they'll all be wanting one."
Bad omen
"While the economy stumbles through one of the worst Christmas shopping seasons in a decade, the White House is leaking word that President Bush may 'soften his stimulus package' (read: gut his tax-cutting plan) before it's even proposed next month. Which begs the question: Did the Republicans lose the November elections?" the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.
"One news leak has the president paring back his tax cut on dividends paid to individuals to 50 percent from 100 percent. Currently, this money is taxed twice once as income and again when it's distributed to shareholders and it makes economic sense to eliminate Uncle Sam's double-dipping outright. But if fairness is the other operative principle when discussing double-taxation, and the president has argued that it is, then that principle applies to all dividends, not just to half of them. Why not force the Democrats to defend the honor of double taxation?" the newspaper asked.
"White House aides also let slip that the administration is dropping plans to accelerate marginal rate cuts for higher earners. These self-described 'political advisers' are admitting, believe it or not, that they're afraid that Democrats will attack Republicans for proposing tax cuts for 'the rich.' They are apparently under the impression that Democrats will drop this objection if Mr. Bush proposes only a cut in dividends.
"Hello? Democrats are already demanding that those rate cuts scheduled for 2004 and 2006 be repealed, on the same class-war grounds. They will play their class card no matter what the president proposes, and the details of the income-distribution tables will matter less to voters than the state of the economy in two years."
The newspaper added: "Now, these leaks are coming out before Mr. Bush has made up his mind, and the president is probably the most ardent tax cutter in the White House. But we'd feel much better if his aides were at least making the right arguments instead of aping Democratic complaints in unattributed remarks to reporters. These leaks are a bad omen for the tough debate to come, and they represent an embarrassing start to the new Bush economic team of Stephen Friedman and his chief White House sponsor, Joshua Bolten."
Hillary's big mistake?
"Throughout her career, when Hillary [Clinton] is silent, she gains in popularity but when she starts talking, she loses support," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.
"Her recent decision to become a spokesperson for the Democratic Party in the wake of its fall mishap is misguided and will only lead to an increase in her negative ratings," Mr. Morris said.
The "old" Hillary, who made her husband look like a weak president and who led the Democratic Party to disaster in the 1994 elections, "seems to be re-emerging, slashing and burning against the Republican agenda, dancing on Trent Lott's grave and attacking [President] Bush for leaving Americans unsafe in the face of terrorism," the columnist said.
"She is pursuing the totally misguided and ludicrously flawed Democratic strategy of engaging Bush by trying to get to the right of him on the terrorism issue, attacking him for leaving us exposed to the threat of a new 9/11.
"But the old axiom still applies: the less she says, the better she does. In her own interest, Hillary Rodham Clinton should sit down and shut up."
Restoring the draft
Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, says he will seek the restoration of the military draft because that might make politicians and the public think more carefully about launching a war against Iraq.
Mr. Rangel, who voted in October against a bipartisan resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, told CNN he would introduce a bill imposing mandatory registration for military service once Congress returns in early January.
"I'm going to introduce legislation to have universal military service to let everyone have an opportunity to defend the free world against the threat that is coming to us from the Middle East," the Korean War veteran said Sunday on "Late Edition."
Mr. Rangel said politicians have been "cavalier" about the prospect of sending U.S. troops off to war.
"Realistically, when you talk about a war, you're talking about ground troops, you're talking about enlisted people, and they don't come from the kids and members of Congress," he said.
Defending Murray
"The Newark Star-Ledger weighs in with an astonishingly lame defense of Washington state's Sen. Patty Murray, whom the paper styles 'a patriot in the proudest tradition' for her recent comments about Osama bin Laden's purported humanitarian works. The Star-Ledger pats Patty on the back for having 'the integrity to tell uncomfortable truths,'" James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com.
"But at the same time, the paper acknowledges that Murray wasn't telling the truth: 'Murray was wrong to suggest that Osama bin Laden's appeal is based on decades of charity work. That's true of some radical groups, but bin Laden has been busy fighting dirty, first against Russian soldiers in Afghanistan and later against unarmed citizens in Manhattan and Washington. In the division of terrorist labor, bin Laden provides more muscle than munificence.'
"The editorial goes on to argue that 'democratic reformers in the Arab world have good reason to view the United States as their enemy.' America, after all, backs dictatorships in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That's a fine point, but not the one Murray made. The Star-Ledger's defense for Murray's indefensible comments is to change the subject.
"Murray's remarks, incidentally, probably reflect stupidity more than a genuine animus toward America. In the Washingtonian magazine's annual survey of Capitol Hill staffers, conducted several months ago, Murray placed first among senators in the 'No Rocket Scientist' category, edging out Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, and Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican.
"The senator voted 'Brainiest'? Bill Frist, now the majority leader. Of course, he's no rocket scientist either. He's not even a brain surgeon, though he is a surgeon."
Swift looks back
As she leaves office this week, Massachusetts acting Gov. Jane Swift the nation's first governor to give birth in office says motherhood sometimes clouded her political judgment.
In an article in the January issue of Boston magazine, Mrs. Swift writes that she is troubled that her decision as lieutenant governor to ask staffers to care for her oldest daughter may define her legacy in some circles. The "baby-sitting scandal" led to a $1,250 ethics commission fine in 2000.
"I was consumed with maternal guilt," Mrs. Swift writes. "I know now that it was virtually impossible for me to take advice and make decisions when I was responding emotionally as a mother, not thinking rationally as a public official."
On Thursday, Mrs. Swift, 37, ends a rocky stint as acting governor that began in April 2001, when Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned to become U.S. ambassador to Canada. Mrs. Swift, Massachusetts' first female governor and the youngest governor in the nation, established another first a month into the job, when she gave birth to twin girls.

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