- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

Giddy 'populists'
"Once they express their requisite sympathy for stockholders and investors in Enron, many Democrats are downright giddy over the company's implosion," the New York Times' Richard L. Berke wrote yesterday in the newspaper's Week in Review.
"Not since Watergate and Richard M. Nixon's cozying up to corporate bigwigs wielding bags of money, they say, has their party had such an ideal vehicle to arouse the citizenry and skewer a Republican president as favoring monied interests," Mr. Berke said.
"'It's Teapot Dome,' said Jim Hightower, the former Texas agriculture commissioner who has built a career on speaking for the disenfranchised. 'It's a perfect populist crusade.' Though, unlike the Harding administration scandal, no one in this administration is known to have acted illegally regarding Enron.
"Stanley B. Greenberg, who helped devise a populist theme for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential campaign, said the Democrats' rallying cry in the November elections should be: 'The greed is real. The pain is real. The excesses are real.'
"And the reality is that the issue could be potent for the Democrats, though some are wary of rushing headlong into making Enron a political issue and caution that the company spread its bounty to both parties. Yet Enron was far more generous to Republicans and has closer ties with Republican officials in government."
In fact, Mr. Berke and Times reporter Janet Elder had a story on the front page describing supposedly ominous news for Republicans in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, mostly concerning Enron. But the same poll found that President Bush's approval rating was at 82 percent and that 58 percent of respondents rated the Republican Party favorably, compared with 33 percent who saw it unfavorably and 9 percent who gave no answer almost exactly the same as the Democratic Party rating of 58 percent to 34 percent, with 9 percent giving no answer.

Dingell's answer
Rep. John D. Dingell, ranking Democrat on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is investigating Enron, was asked on CNN why he repeatedly accepted campaign contributions from the one-time energy-trading giant that is the subject of a criminal probe by the Justice Department.
"Very simple. The system is dependent upon campaign contributions and voluntary support. … When somebody gives me money, they, I assume, are supporting one thing: good government. And that's what they got, and that's what Enron got," the Michigan Democrat said Saturday on CNN's "Target Terrorism."
Mr. Dingell then pointed out a number of issues on which he opposed Enron, including the deregulation of electrical utilities.
Show host Jonathan Karl said he agreed the "record is clear on that." But he went on to say: "Campaign contributions don't fall from the sky. Did you or anybody with your campaign solicit contributions from Enron over the years, ask them to give money?"
Mr. Dingell replied: "I don't know whether it was solicited or whether they gave it. Raising money is always something which is bottomed, in part, on solicitation."
The congressman did not speculate how the scandal would affect Democrats. "I will talk about what John Dingell did. John Dingell is probably the most independent fellow in the Congress, does exactly what he thinks is right," he said, adding: "If Enron thought they were making an investment by giving me a campaign contribution … the only worse investment I can think of is perhaps Enron's stock."

Clinton vs. Reagan
"The right wing never seems to give up bashing Bill Clinton or glorifying Ronald Reagan," writes Al From, founder and CEO of the Democratic Leadership Conference.
"Their beat goes on and on. Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing talk show host, still rants about President Clinton. A band of Republicans in Congress led by that right-wing stalwart, Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, is constantly looking for new things to rename as memorials to President Reagan," Mr. From said in his group's magazine, the New Democrat Blueprint.
"Now, I have nothing against President Reagan. In fact, though I disagreed with him, I rather admired him. But there's no drumbeat for President Clinton's legacy despite the fact that he led our country to eight years of progress and prosperity. So you'd hardly guess that Reaganism is on the wane and Clintonism is alive and well in American politics.
"But that's the reality," Mr. From said.
"Think about it. The Reagan formula big tax cuts, cultural conservatism and anti-government rhetoric carried Republican candidates for most of the last two decades. But it has become increasingly out of date since the mid-1990s and seems hopelessly outdated since September 11.
"In contrast, Clintonism remains the formula for political success in the first decade of the 21st century. In the simplest terms, Clintonism stands for economic growth and opportunity; for fiscal responsibility; for work, not welfare; for preventing crime and punishing criminals; and for non-bureaucratic, empowering government. It promotes cultural tolerance, inclusion, a sense of community, and an ethic of mutual responsibility by asking citizens to give something back to their country."
Mr. From added: "The bottom line is this: Reaganism may be getting the memorials, but Clintonism is reshaping American politics. Rush Limbaugh's rants and Bob Barr's raves won't change that."

Krugman's sins
"Back when economist Paul Krugman was on an advisory board of Enron's, he wrote an article for Fortune that lauded the company and mentioned that he was on the board, though not that he got $50,000 for his services," National Review notes.
"When he became a columnist for the New York Times, Krugman left the board. He now flays Enron for practicing a corrupt 'crony capitalism' and the Bush administration for 'dissembling' about its ties to Enron. Should the Times can Krugman because he lacks journalistic ethics? No. These sins failure to disclose relevant information, hypocrisy seem fairly petty."
But, the editorial in the magazine's Feb. 11 issue continues, "The Times should end his column for other reasons. It's repetitive and predictable: Krugman seems to have only three or four column ideas (tax cuts are bad, private accounts in Social Security are bad, Republicans are bad). It's intellectually thuggish: Krugman caricatures opponents, falsely presents his opinions as 'cold, hard fact' accepted by all his fellow economists, and attributes all disagreement with him to crankiness and dishonesty.
"He has become, to some extent, a partisan hack, willing to make abrupt 180-degree turns if necessary to criticize President Bush. Finally, he's a mediocre writer at best, even making allowances for his being an economist. That companies like Enron go bankrupt is a sign that markets work. The canning of a lousy columnist would be another."

Bad sign for Reno
Janet Reno failed to crack the 50 percent mark in a South Florida Sun-Sentinel poll on November's gubernatorial election, earning 49 percent support among 404 Broward County voters from past general elections. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they would vote for Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.
The finding is significant, because Broward is one of a few counties where the Democratic former attorney general would need to win big to offset the inevitable weak performance in the state's more conservative areas.
"For a person who is as well known as she is, she should be doing much better in highly partisan Broward County," said Jim Kane, whose firm, Florida Voter, conducted the survey. "Unless her standing improves, I think her chances of a statewide win are remote."

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