- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Stickin' it to Carville
James Carville, the Democratic strategist and showman, once wrote a book called "Stickin': The Case for Loyalty," in which he explained why he stood by President Clinton through scandal after scandal.
But Raymond Strother, a fellow Democratic consultant, accuses Mr. Carville of the worst kind of disloyalty.
"He's an ingrate who puts politics over friendship," Mr. Strother says, citing Mr. Carville's demand last year that Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, give back a $1,000 campaign contribution.
"Carville wanted his donation back because Zell supported President Bush's tax-cut issue in the Senate," Mr. Strother told colleagues during a break at a American Association of Political Consultants meeting in San Diego.
"Zell, who thought Carville was his friend, told me, 'I'm crushed Carville made $300,000 from managing my 1990 gubernatorial campaign and now he wants his $1,000 back,'" said Mr. Strother, who ran Mr. Miller's Senate campaign in 2000.
"I told Zell, 'I'm sorry to hear James said that.'"
The more he thought about the Carville demand, the more steamed Mr. Strother got, reports Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times.
Mr. Strother recalled that a decade ago, "Zell called Bill Clinton and got him to hire Carville, which made Carville a superstar."
Mr. Strother said he recently wrote a $1,000 check to Mr. Miller and delivered it to the senator, who long ago had given Mr. Carville his money back.
Mr. Strother, who is advising the re-election campaigns of Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landreau and Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, both Democrats, said he penned in the lower left-hand corner of the check "Carville refund."
"And the check just cleared the bank," Mr. Strother said with a gleam in his eye.

It's personal now
"lllinois Sen. Dick Durbin's vote against Judge Charles Pickering in the Senate Judiciary Committee may have far-reaching implications for his constituents," according to the Prowler column at www.americanprowler.com.
"For several years, Durbin has been pushing big federal financial guarantees to help fund the expansion of O'Hare International Airport outside Chicago," the column said.
"It is a pet project of Mayor Richard Daley and former Clinton-Gore crony William Daley. The airport expansion has been fought by Illinois Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.
"The Bush administration had expressed a desire to help Durbin and the Daleys get the funding. But while dining with the Daley brothers in Chicago during St. Patrick's Day festivities [recently], Bush told them that Durbin's refusal to support Pickering may very well doom their sky-high airport plans.
"'Durbin wouldn't even speak to Lott about the Pickering matter,' says a Republican leadership source. 'This is personal now, and the Pickering thing is going to have some far-reaching effects on pet legislation on the Democratic side.'
"Fitzgerald has struggled in the past to keep the airport financing deal off the books, but has been told by Lott that this year's fight won't be half as hard. Republicans won't let the deal go through. Across the Capitol, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a fellow Land of Lincoln resident, has similarly agreed to keep O'Hare expansion backing off the books to spite Durbin's and the Daleys' dreams."

Florida's updated map
"Florida's new congressional lines look as though they will help the Republicans maintain control of the House in the fall," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"The new lines should add two seats to the GOP majority outright, while strengthening the Republican base vote in previously vulnerable districts. The new lines also make at least one Democrat-represented seat competitive for the first time," the wire service said.
"The new 24th Congressional District is comprised of parts of Seminole, Orange and Volusia counties, strong GOP areas. President Bush carried the seat with 52.2 percent of the vote in 2000. The likely GOP candidate is state House Speaker Tom Feeney, who has already raised $397,786.
"The new 25th Congressional District is based in South Florida's Miami-Dade, Collier and Monroe counties. It voted for Bush by 54 percent in 2000. GOP state Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the brother of current U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, is the likely Republican candidate in this seat.
"The redrawn 5th Congressional District, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman, Florida Democrat, gives the Republican a shot at the seat for the first time. Bush won the new 5th with 52.4 percent of the vote in 2000."

Confidence gap
"It's not as tangible an asset as money or good poll numbers. But for a political party, confidence in its message, its ideas, even its mission is usually a critical ingredient of success in an election year," the Los Angeles Times' Ronald Brownstein writes.
"Right now, the confidence gap may be the biggest difference between the parties. Just over seven months before the midterm elections, Republicans are swaggering. Democrats look lost," Mr. Brownstein said.
"Republican candidates for the House and Senate already appear to have settled on the central messages they'll trumpet in this fall's campaigns: Defend President Bush's tax cut; endorse his call for big spending increases on defense and homeland security; and, above all, link themselves to Bush's popularity, particularly the public support for his handling of the terrorist threat."
Mr. Brownstein added: "Congressional Republicans have clearly decided they have enough confidence in Bush's agenda to face the midterm election arm-in-arm with the president. Vulnerable Democrats have just as clearly signaled they intend to succeed, or fail, on their own. Republicans seem to be taking their cues from the blood-brother fellowship in 'The Lord of the Rings.' For Democrats, the operative text these days looks to be the 'Lord of the Flies.'"

Outdated strategy
"Pity the poor Democrats. They thought they had discovered the perfect issue: 'fiscal discipline,'" Ruy Teixeira writes in the American Prospect, an unabashedly liberal magazine.
"By draping themselves in the mantle of fiscal rectitude, Democrats discovered they could oppose tax cuts without advocating any specific government spending thereby avoiding both the potentially controversial nature of any new outlay and the generic 'big spender' label (as in 'Democrats who just want to spend the taxpayers' money instead of letting them have some of it back'). Even better, with the invention of the 'Social Security lockbox' which would wall off surplus revenues coming into the Social Security trust fund from the rest of the budget it became possible to present fiscal discipline as a way of protecting the very popular Social Security program from 'raids' by tax cut-loving Republicans. Fiscal discipline, it seemed, could be the Democrats' political Holy Grail," said Mr. Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.
He added: "The party has finally succeeded in becoming the undisputed party of fiscal discipline and nobody cares! Circumstances clearly have made their favorite political strategy outdated as mainstream political commentators like [Charlie] Cook have begun to note but the Democrats are in denial. Why else would they continue to emphasize an issue that has so little political traction? How else to explain their hysterical attempts to assert the imminent meltdown of Social Security if the lockbox is discarded and some of that money is actually spent?"

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