- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

'No traction'
"Top-secret polling has convinced key Democrats that [New York Republican] Gov. [George E.] Pataki can't be beaten in the November election by either Carl McCall or Andrew Cuomo," the New York Post's Fredric U. Dicker writes.
"The polls, now circulating at the highest levels of state and national Democratic Party politics, found Pataki leading both potential Democratic opponents by more than 30 percentage points in bellwether suburban counties," Mr. Dicker said.
"'Pataki walks on water in many districts in New York,' said one of the state's best-known Democratic political operatives, who has firsthand knowledge of the polling. 'It's inexplicable, but true. People just like this guy. It's amazing.'
"Other key Democrats, including those loyal to state Comptroller McCall and former federal housing Secretary Cuomo, conceded the accuracy of the private polling data, which is consistent with several recent public polls.
"'For whatever reason, none of the issues being pressed by McCall or Cuomo is taking hold with the public. There's just no traction,' said one of the state's most important Democrats."

Rich irony
"[California Democratic] Gov. Gray Davis has pocketed political money from some of the biggest, baddest names in the corporate corruption scandals," Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton writes.
"WorldCom $109,000. Adelphia $52,500. Enron $120,000. Global Crossing execs $120,500. Arthur Andersen and its parent $54,000.
"Does anybody care?" Mr. Skelton asked.
"Republican rival Bill Simon Jr. has been hammered politically for using offshore tax shelters that the Internal Revenue Service contends may be illegal.
"Davis, it turns out, received $86,500 from the accounting firm that recommended the shelters. The firm, KPMG LLP, is being sued by the IRS.
"Other rich businessmen who used the shelters are major Davis bankrollers. They include Maurice Marciano, CEO of clothier Guess?, $125,000, and Richard J. Heckmann, former chairman of U.S. Filter Corp., $40,000."

Left-wing teamwork
"Having sharpened their knives on Charles Pickering and D. Brooks Smith, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee turn [today] to Priscilla Owen, President Bush's nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The accomplished judge had better wear her battle armor," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Borking Svengali Ralph Neas is playing the gentleman this time and letting the ladies do the mugging. This is dirty work, but the gals at the National Abortion Rights Action League, the National Abortion Federation and the National Organization for Women are more than up to the job. And when it comes to borking, Chairman Pat Leahy is an equal-opportunity interest-group mouthpiece," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"The feminists have put their wiles to work and come up with a new excuse to disqualify Judge Owens: abortion on demand for teenagers. Judge Owen must be defeated, they charge, because her rulings on the Supreme Court of Texas prove she believes a parent usually ought to be informed if his or her daughter wants an abortion.
"The pro-abortion groups are working hand in glove with Sen. Leahy to defeat Judge Owen. When the chairman rescheduled her hearing last week, that news was up on Planned Parenthood's Web site before it was even communicated to the Republicans on the committee or the Justice Department. Talk about teamwork."

Raines' agenda
"We all knew the poll was coming. At regular intervals since he took over the New York Times, hyper-liberal new Executive Editor Howell Raines has tried to get traction on a president he despises," Andrew Sullivan writes in the New York Sun.
" Raines' M.O. on this is familiar by now. You shift your newspaper's resources in large bulk to the pursuit of a single ideological theme e.g. that Bush is a corrupt businessman who supports the thieves who have stolen shareholders' money by accounting fraud. You devote legitimate story after story to this theme, weaving important news and analysis with sly insinuation and character assassination. You try and get the network news and local papers around the country to run the same line repeatedly, and, given the Times' influence in this regard, you often succeed. Then you cap this campaign with a poll 'proving' your point, taking the story to a new level of legitimacy.
"[Thursdays] front-page anti-Bush polling story was a classic of the genre. 'Poll Finds Concerns That Bush Is Overly Influenced By Business,' the headline blared.
"And then you read the poll itself. By far the newsiest part of the poll is what hasn't happened. The poll shows that, despite some of the worst economic news since he came to office, President Bush's approval ratings are still at a sky-high 70 percent. (That statistic is buried on page A12.) Is the president the uncaring plutocrat that Maureen Dowd continually contends, using fiction when the facts won't support her? The Times poll showed that 68 percent agreed with the notion that the president 'cares about the needs and problems of people like yourself.'
"Then there were questions merely designed to foment left-liberal beliefs about a president who is merely a puppet of corporate paymasters. Here's a classic: 'Do you think George W. Bush is in charge of what goes on in his administration most of the time or do you think other people are really running the government?' Who wrote that question? Terry McAuliffe?"
Mr. Sullivan's commentary is posted at his Web site, www.andrewsullivan.com.

Arnold's consultants
"Politically driven actor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken his first steps to trading his movie set trailer for the California governor's mansion," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Republican insiders say the cigar-chomping star of the 'Terminator' and 'True Lies' series is working with one of the best GOP consultants in the business as he ramps up to a 2006 gubernatorial bid," Mr. Bedard said.
"So far, he's been all talk, no action. Now, we learn, he's working with Dresner, Wickers & Associates Inc., Republican heavy hitters who've advised several senators, governors and House members and who even helped former Russian Prez Boris Yeltsin to re-election.
"Richard Dresner and Arnie talked about a 2002 run, but Arnie says lucrative movie deals got in the way of a bid for his 'dream' job. Dresner is mum, but a GOP activist says, 'It's the clearest sign yet the Terminator is running.'"

Never mind
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman apologized yesterday for what she called a "misunderstanding" in the U.S. Forest Service ordering a vacationer to remove from his summer cabin a flagpole that had been flying the American flag.
Miss Veneman said in a letter to Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California Republican, that "as a gesture of good will," her department would send a U.S. flag that flew over the Forest Service's offices in Washington to Army veteran David Knickerbocker of Linden, Calif.
The Washington Times reported on the front page yesterday that Mr. Knickerbocker was ordered to remove the flagpole outside his summer cabin in California's Eldorado National Forest. He complained to Mr. Pombo, who demanded the Forest Service "rescind this silly order."
"We apologize for the misunderstanding," Miss Veneman wrote. "Please be assured that Mr. Knickerbocker's permit will be modified to allow the flagpole to remain at his recreation residence site."
Forester Debbie Gaynor made "an honest mistake" in thinking the flagpole had to be removed instead of encouraging amending the permit to allow a construction improvement, said Mark Rey, the USDA undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service.
"Certainly, the flying of the American flag in our national forests is not discouraged," Miss Veneman said.


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