- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Ideologue pays off
Timely and constructive meshing of CIA, FBI, military and legal resources ultimately led to the arrest of "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla, announced yesterday by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
But success is apparently not enough for some lawmakers, such as Rep. Barney Frank, who is still not satisfied with U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
"I think, yeah, every administration, from Reagan, even Carter, was slow to react, but I think the Clinton administration was doing as good a job as they could. Then, I think there was a priority change that caused more slippage than anything," the Massachusetts Democrat told Fox News yesterday. "It shows we have a right-wing ideologue, rather than law enforcement, as the head of the Justice Department."
Republicans in Mr. Frank's home district, meanwhile, call the region "Moscowchusetts" and say the lawmaker has a taste for a fiefdom of his own.
"Barney Frank is a big tax- and spender, who likes to build bureaucracy. He's never denied that or shied away from it," state GOP spokesman Nathan Little told Fox.

A tender moment
Heavens. There's kissing babies on the campaign trail but kissing fake presidents? Indeed, Janet Reno and Martin Sheen bussed firmly on the lips during a weekend fund-raiser for the former attorney general, who is running as a Democrat for Florida governor.
"Whoa. Oh, my God," said one WABC commentator after seeing the evidence a photo of Miss Reno, pearls and all, engulfing the star of NBC's "West Wing" lip-to-lip, and presumably Democratic ideology to Democratic ideology.
"Martin Sheen, thank you for your passion, for your caring about the humankind of this planet," Miss Reno told supporters when Mr. Sheen joined her on stage. "We're looking at something that a very large audience is going to be alarmed to see," mused another ABC analyst.
National Journal's Craig Crawford managed to snap the photo by stealing away from the designated press area during Miss Reno's campaign appearance in Coral Gables. He later posted it at the CBS News Web site.
This is not the first high-profile Democratic smooch.
"Al Gore proved a little kissy-face goes a long way toward loosening a stiff politician's image," Mr. Crawford observed, referring to the former vice president's romantic interlude on the dais with wife Tipper during the 2000 Democratic National Convention. A giddy press billed it "the kiss heard 'round the world."

A not-so-tender moment
Meanwhile, Al Gore has developed an interesting self-image in his post-White House years.
"I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America," he told the graduating class of Cambridge College in Massachusetts last weekend.
The former vice president is used to ivy-covered halls. In recent days, he has been teaching as visiting professor at Columbia University in New York and Fisk University in Tennessee.
"Or V.P., for short," he observed. "It's a way of hanging on."

The Clinton legacy
The British are blaming former President Bill Clinton's administration for a bad habit that has come to plague their government.
All that legendary civility and spirited discourse is giving way to obsessive "spin," Cabinet Minister Clare Short told the British Broadcasting Corp., and advised the Labor Party to "let the truth speak for itself. Do not try to manipulate the media. We need to reconnect with the people just be straight with them."
Former Labor minister Peter Kilfoyle took the Clinton administration to task for the rise of spinmeisters who are "entirely negative" and push the "distortion of reality," he said.
But their techniques were successful for Mr. Clinton, the BBC noted, and have been mimicked by Labor.

Sundays with George
Some are fretting over the rumored appointment of George Stephanopoulos as the lone host of ABC's "This Week," seen by many as an effort to gussy up the network's weary political programming.
"This is an important show," Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke told the New York Times yesterday. "There might be a tendency, a genetic tendency, to agree with the positions of the Democrats over Republicans, and therefore, take a different approach to Democrats on the show than Republicans on the show. And this is not to say it would be intentional."
William Kovach of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, a former editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recalled the history of the former Clinton spokesman.
"In his formative years, Stephanopoulos' experience was to use information to move people in one direction or another," he said. "That is not the kind of training that you need for a program that helps inform citizens."

Cultural moment
America rocks according to 4,672 "relatively well-educated young people in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Turkey," who answered questions for a new British Council poll.
"The U.S. was seen as the most-admired country, twice as popular as second-place Japan. Egypt was ranked third, just ahead of Britain," a survey analysis noted.

Capitol ideas
Reporters who cover state politics are becoming a rare breed. An American Journalism Review count has turned up only 510 print journalists on the statehouse beat in the 50 states 33 fewer than their last count two years ago.
Most of the times, the dearth of bill-watchers is due to budget cutbacks. The field also gets a bad rap for being boring.
"Sure, an awful lot of eye-glazing stories have been written about statehouse developments over the years," the Journal noted. "But that doesn't mean capitol news is inherently dull. It just means reporters and editors get mired in inside baseball."
It is "profoundly discouraging" to think that reporters are abdicating their role as public watchdog, the Journal said.
There is some good news, proof perhaps that some statehouses are more interesting than others. News organizations in nine states have actually hired new reporters at their state bureaus: Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Focal points
Middle East Forum founder Daniel Pipes supports CNN financial commentator Lou Dobbs' stance that the "war on terror" be renamed the "war on Islamists."
Such thinking does not sit well among those sensitive to racial profiling.
"We should be very clear that the problem that we're dealing with as Lou Dobbs on CNN, pointed out is not terror, it's militant Islam," Mr. Pipes told CNN in an interview on Sunday. "And we need to go after those people who are supporters of militant Islam."
"They can come from any nationality. They can be either gender. But the fact is, and it's a delicate and difficult fact to deal with, they will all be Muslims," Mr. Pipes said.
Both Mr. Dobbs and Mr. Pipes make the case that the term, war on terror, is "meaningless," since it does not name the enemy.
"Not all Muslims will be supporters of militant Islam, but all supporters of militant Islam will be Muslims," he said, adding, "There is no choice but to focus in on the Muslim population."

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