- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

Undue influence

Good-government types the same people who have been hollering the loudest for so-called "campaign-finance reform" always complain that lobbyists have undue influence in Congress. For that reason, it comes as something of a shock to learn that the campaign finance "reform" bill that passed the House yesterday was written by lobbyists.

"An eleventh-hour error by attorneys drafting language for the final version of the Shays-Meehan bill threw supporters of the legislation into turmoil Wednesday," Roll Call reporters Amy Keller and Ethan Wallison write.

"Supporters of the bill on both sides of the aisle said the error was made by one or more lawyers from the reform group Common Cause, which had been working behind the scenes to draft the final language."

Embracing Bush

"Democratic strategists like James Carville can issue all the memos they like claiming President Bush is vulnerable on domestic policy despite his popularity as war leader but Dem candidates are still running very scared," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"In fact, one vulnerable Democrat in a key race is now trying to hide behind Bush after Republicans unveiled a TV ad starring Bush and accusing targeted Dem senators of opposing Bush's economic-stimulus plan," Miss Orin said.

"And that could be a pointed reminder to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle because the embattled Democrat is fellow South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson.

"Instead of firing back at Bush, Johnson [on Wednesday] pledged allegiance to the president with a TV ad of his own that says he 'has strongly supported President Bush, the war against terrorism, his tax cuts and his education reforms.' …

"Insiders say other targeted Dem senators in Montana and Missouri are also feeling the heat and mulling response ads."

Ironic accusation

The campaign arm of Senate Republicans yesterday accused Democrats of violating current campaign laws on the very day that they were creating new ones.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) says it has notified television stations in South Dakota that the advertisements running on behalf of Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, are "blatantly illegal."

"The 'issue ad,' paid for by the Democratic Party of South Dakota with funds transferred from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), is, in fact, a candidate-advocacy ad, which is expressly forbidden under the rules that allow non-federal dollars to be spent in issue advertising," the NRSC said in a prepared statement.

"Isn't it ironic that on the very day that campaign-finance reform passes the House, the Democrats ruptured current law?" said Mitch Bainwol, NRSC director.

"The Tim Johnson ad, erroneously classified by the Democrats as an issue advertisement, clearly shows Johnson giving a campaign speech from a podium decorated with his campaign poster," the NRSC said. "Showing the candidate with a campaign poster is a clear violation of that law. Secondly, if the stations were to continue to show the ad, it would constitute a breach of their FCC-licensing requirement to operate in the public interest."

Said Mr. Bainwol: "The Johnson campaign and the Democratic Party must immediately remove their ad from the airwaves to avoid further deliberate violation of the law."

'Enemigos del estado'

Democrats accused Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, of calling Hispanic green-card holders in the United States "enemies of the state."

During Wednesday night's debate on campaign-finance reform, Republicans offered an amendment to prohibit permanent residents from contributing to federal election campaigns.

Mr. Hayworth, speaking in favor of the amendment, said it would keep "enemies of the state" from influencing U.S. politics, citing questions about Chinese nationals, and other foreigners with ties to communist China, who gave to Democrats during the Clinton administration.

But Democrats, particularly members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said his remarks impugned every legal noncitizen resident.

"The Republican message to Hispanics is loud and clear: Stay out of politics," said Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat. "By labeling Hispanics as enemies, it clearly shows that they are not welcome in the Republican Party."

Mr. Hayworth's spokesman, though, said the congressman never mentioned Hispanics in his two-minute speech.

"Obviously, the Democrats are uncomfortable in being reminded of the efforts of the Chinese communists to pervert the American political system in 1996," said Larry VanHoose, a spokesman for Mr. Hayworth.

Lawyers, not warriors

"Sometimes, as we stare at the ceiling at night, we wonder if these columns are too hard on lawyers," the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

"And then we go to work and hear what defense attorney Neal Sonnett said recently before the American Bar Association:

"'Our system does not work, democracy does not live, unless we are willing to give the same rights to the worst of us as to the best of us.'

"That was just before the ABA voted 286-147 for a resolution calling illegitimate any U.S. military tribunal that doesn't treat al Qaeda captives exactly like any American criminal defendant.

"Earth to ABA: There's one small problem here. The guys you're talking about aren't 'us.' Those guys are 'them,' foreign enemies who want to kill 'us.' They've already killed more than a few."

The newspaper noted that the Bush administration had implored the ABA to put off a vote on the subject until the administration had actually promulgated rules for the tribunals.

"But the ABA went ahead anyway, in what has to rank as one of the all-time snubs of a U.S. president, in peace or war. This is the same ABA, remember, that professed to be shocked last year when George W. Bush pulled its privileged vetting role of federal judicial nominees on the grounds that it had become too politicized."

How romantic

Gennifer Flowers, who almost sank Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 when she revealed their long-running affair, went to court yesterday Valentine's Day to press her defamation suit against Hillary Rodham Clinton, James Carville and George Stephanopoulos.

Miss Flowers accuses Mrs. Clinton and the two former aides to Mr. Clinton of embarking on a "smear campaign" to destroy her image.

Representing Miss Flowers at the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco was Judicial Watch, the busy legal group that has been dogging Republicans as well as Democrats. Representing Mrs. Clinton was David Kendall, her husband's former impeachment attorney.

Tribute to Waylon

Nobody on Capitol Hill was more touched by the death of Waylon Jennings than House Majority Leader Dick Armey, an aficionado of country music.

"There will never be another one like him," the Texas Republican said. "Waylon Jennings just knew things that the rest of us never knew. To our good fortune, he put those things in his songs."

Missile shield backed

The New Hampshire House of Representatives yesterday approved a resolution endorsing a national missile shield. The vote was 186-135.

"We are pleased to have the measure passed. And we want to express our strong support for the president to complete his homeland-defense efforts and missile defense is an important part of that," said state Rep. Steve Avery, who lead the floor debate in favor of the resolution.

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