- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2002

Americans for Democratic Action, "the nation's oldest liberal political organization," unveiled its Liberal Agenda for a Secure Nation at the group's annual national conference in Washington this weekend.

Guest speakers told more than 200 ADA delegates that the Democratic Party can win the 2002 and 2004 elections only by adhering to a platform of "liberal values" that downplays the importance of combating terrorism and developing a missile defense shield.

"There's more to winning an election than war, education and the economy," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said on Friday. "Nationalized health care, social security and the environment are issues that still resonate with people after 9/11."

Pollster Stan Greenberg denied that liberal proposals, such as higher taxes and increased government regulation, will harm the electability of future presidential candidates. "Bill Clinton ran for president, promised he would raise taxes and won," Mr. Greenberg said.

Still other panelists downplayed President Bush's high approval and job performance ratings.

"It's slipping. George W. Bush has not abolished the laws of political gravity," said Mr. Mellman. "What goes up must come down."

"This president has an IQ of 88," Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat, said also on Friday. "That tells you something." Miss Watson added that Mr. Bush's administration actually is run by a "shadow government" consisting of "his father and the guy who calls himself the vice president."

"The '88' certainly isn't making the decisions," she said.

ADA's Friday program concluded with a lavish fund-raising banquet at the Capital Hilton Hotel honoring Ann Brown, former chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and steelworkers union President Leo Gerard.

"The Republican Party isn't comfortable using government regulation to ensure consumer safety," Mrs. Brown said, but Mr. Gerard praised the Bush administration's move to implement steel tariffs, adding that "the global economy has nothing to do with fairness and justice, or productivity."

Yesterday morning, the conference passed several resolutions on matters of trade law. ADA President Emeritus Jim Jontz said the group's 65,000 members nationwide must "hold the torch of liberalism high, in good political weather or bad" when it comes to the global economy.

An afternoon panel emphasized national health insurance as another priority.

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