- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

Armey vs. Davis
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, is determined there will be debate about Social Security reform, no matter how many members of his own party object.
In an interview Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Armey was asked about remarks made by Rep. Tom Davis, Virginia Republican and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who said: "Not on your life are we going to listen to Dick Armey and debate the issue before the election of 2002. We're staying away from that."
Asked if he believes Mr. Davis is wrong politically, Mr. Armey said, "I think he's wrong realistically," adding: "The Democrats have only Social Security and the politics of fear they associate with it to campaign on this year. We will debate Social Security, and it's time the Republicans call the Democrats for what they are, which is shameless demagogues on this subject, and get busy with the process of fixing Social Security before it's too late."
Pundit Mark Shields then asked Mr. Armey why he alone "has the courage" to address this issue, when everyone else, including the White House, is "cringing" from it.
Mr. Armey responded that he "recognizes the mood of the American people," who are "thoroughly disgusted with the way Democrats have handled Social Security over all of these years."
The public, the House majority leader said, is "completely aware that something needs to be done about this" and is "impatient with those who aren't dedicated to getting the problem fixed."
But Mr. Armey may have some difficulty persuading his boss, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Mr. Hastert said that if House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt wants to debate Social Security, as he says he does, he "ought to have a package," a Social Security reform bill.
But Mr. Hastert said he will not submit such a bill. "You know, this is something that the Democrats pull out of the closet … this bogeyman. … [They] come out and shake it right before the election. It's a scare tactic."

Armey vs. Istook
Rep. Tom Davis isn't the only House Republican with whom Majority Leader Dick Armey has disagreed in recent days. On CNN, Mr. Armey said he believes Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the House panel that funds the White House, erred when he joined with Democrats in criticizing the White House for refusing to allow congressional testimony by Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge.
The Democrats "are going to try to turn whatever President Bush is accomplishing in defense and homeland security into a domestic policy failure," the Texas Republican said on "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
"I do not believe the Democrats will give Tom Ridge a fair, decent, honest, objective hearing. This is a political gambit on their part, and Ernest ought not to ally himself with them," Mr. Armey said.
In an interview Friday, Mr. Istook said he is working with the White House to find other ways to get full information about the emerging $38 billion homeland security program, as the president is standing firm against Mr. Ridge being questioned publicly by Congress.

Wounded in Illinois
"At a packed 'Unity Lunch' in Chicago the day after the Illinois primary election, hundreds of Republicans gathered for the mandatory group hug, where all the candidates who had just spent months savaging each other are suddenly expected to profess a profound admiration for one another. All eyes were looking to the head table, where the combatants from the gubernatorial race were supposed to break bread and sing 'Kumbaya,'" writes Joel Mowbray, a free-lance writer from Illinois.
"Not one of the three GOP candidates who ran for governor attended the lunch, a first since the advent of this post-election ritual. Primary winner Attorney General Jim Ryan made a brief appearance for the cameras, but hurried off before the festivities got under way rather than sit between two empty chairs. Neither of his opponents paid even a brief visit to congratulate him, and there will likely be no endorsement from either losing candidate," Mr. Mowbray writes in a column at the National Review Web site (www.nationalreview.com).
"After a 26-year lock on the governor's mansion in Illinois, the state Republican party is in disarray. Ironically, despite an unpopular Republican incumbent who is mired in a scandal that has produced 45 indictments and 42 convictions for his former employees, GOP prospects for winning the top post looked bright until the last weeks before the primary.
"In a divisive three-way contest on Tuesday, Ryan beat back liberal Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood and conservative state Sen. Patrick O'Malley, but he is undeniably wounded from an unrelenting series of assaults."

Ray and Torricelli
"Far be it for us to defend Robert Ray, the man who succeeded Ken Starr as independent counsel and now hopes to replace Robert Torricelli as a U.S. senator from New Jersey. But there is something ridiculous about Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's recent call for a federal investigation into Ray's political activities," the New Republic says in its editorial Notebook.
"Leahy, who like Torricelli is a Democrat, alleges that Ray, a Republican, 'may have engaged in improper political activity' while he served as independent counsel. The 'improper activity' in question? That Ray lined up support and made preparations for his Senate bid as his independent counsel tenure was winding down.
"If Ray did this and it's a good bet he did then he exhibited bad judgment, and the voters of New Jersey will likely punish him for it at the polls. But for the Senate to demand an investigation into Ray at this moment is more than a tad hypocritical. That's because when it comes to investigating one of its own namely Torricelli the Senate has been AWOL," the magazine said.
"It's now been more than two months since federal prosecutors ended their investigation into Torricelli's financial dealings with, and official favors for, a wealthy contributor and handed the matter over to the Senate ethics committee. The committee's staff has reportedly reviewed the prosecutor's findings and presented a preliminary report to the committee which now must decide whether to authorize an official investigation, including the retention of an outside counsel, into Torricelli. But so far it hasn't. And if it doesn't do so soon, it's doubtful New Jersey voters will have a full accounting of what Torricelli did before the fall election. Which, of course, is just what Senate Democrats want."

Next up
The Senate had just given final approval last week to a campaign-finance bill when the group Democracy 21 announced a new front in what it calls reform of electoral politics.
"Next month, Project FEC, a bipartisan task force established by Democracy 21 Education Fund and headed by Fred Wertheimer, will issue a major report calling for the creation of a new campaign finance enforcement system," the group said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
The task force will "propose a new enforcement agency" to replace the Federal Election Commission, the group said.
The FEC, the target of reformers' ire, has responsibility for implementing the new campaign rules within 90 days after President Bush signs the legislation.

Comic duo
"You gotta love this: Likely candidates for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination are already mocking each other," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Take Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's poke at Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry during the Gridiron Club dinner. 'John Kerry's been doing great; I wonder about his new campaign slogan: "Vote for the tall Dukakis."' Says a Kerry fan: 'Sage advice from the short McGovern.'"


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide