- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Weaver's new gig
John Weaver, who managed Republican Sen. John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, has not only abandoned the GOP he has signed up with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"I'll do everything and anything they ask of me," Mr. Weaver told Roll Call.
Mr. Weaver will serve as a consultant to the campaign wing of House Democrats with the goal of attracting Republican and independent voters in the fall elections.
Mr. Weaver plans to peg Republicans "as extremists who don't tolerate moderate views," Roll Call said.
As for Mr. McCain, he blamed the White House for Mr. Weaver's change of party affiliation.
"He was made totally unwelcome in the Republican Party," Mr. McCain said. "I'm sorry, it's regrettable. I can't deprive a guy of making a living or feeding his family."

Band of zealots
"The campaign-finance story last broke off in the Oval Office as President Bush signed McCain-Feingold in the presence of his dog Spot," John Samples writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"John McCain and his allies were not amused. If you had spent tens of millions of foundation dollars to rid Washington of the influence of money, you too might think you had a right to a White House-fest recognizing your moral superiority and all-around service to the republic. Denied their party before a fawning media, McCain and the regulatory crowd are back on the warpath demanding an overhaul of the Federal Election Commission (FEC)," said Mr. Samples, director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute.
"The Common Causers have complained for some time about the FEC. They say tie votes among the six commissioners preclude tough enforcement of federal election law. They say the commissioners lack the will to go against partisan interests. McCain and company want an FEC that looks and acts like the FBI, headed by a Hoover appointed by the president. Democrats in Congress may doubt the wisdom of G-men led by a Republican appointee looking into their last campaign.
"The FEC does have problems, just not the ones cited by McCain and company. Votes end in ties less than 3 percent of the time. It's true that the commission can't march people off to jail for speaking out during elections. But the design of the FEC reflects our larger disagreements about the partisan and constitutional implications of regulating political campaigns, as well as legitimate differences over interpretation of existing law. In a democracy, the FEC can hardly be faulted for not following the wishes of a small band of zealots otherwise known as 'the reform community.'"

Mindless labeling
"What does it mean to be 'far right'? Who qualifies as a right-wing 'extremist'? Anne Applebaum asks in a column published by the Internet magazine Slate (slate.msn.com).
"Quite a lot of European politicians think that they know. [On Sunday] British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called on 'democratic people of all persuasions to stand together in solidarity against extremist policies.' Romano Prodi, president of the European Union, has also recently joined many others in congratulating France on the rejection of 'extremism' in French politics. Expect to hear more of them weigh in later this week, after the Dutch elections Wednesday," the columnist said.
"Quite a lot of journalists think they know, too. Two weeks ago, the Economist published a neatly drawn chart listing 'far right parties in Europe,' showing what percentage of the vote each one had obtained, country by country. The BBC's Web site also now contains a nifty chart that lets you click on an interactive map and thereby gauge the state of the 'far right' in each nation of Western Europe.
"I am as guilty as anyone else in overusing these terms: Sometimes 'far right' is just a simpler phrase to use than 'anti-establishment, pro-free-market, anti-immigration, possibly racist right,' when you don't feel you have enough space to explain the details of a particular party or politician but I won't do it again.
"In the wake of Jean-Marie Le Pen's somewhat freakish success in the first round of the French presidential elections, and the shocking murder of the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn almost immediately afterward, I have concluded that it is now time to call a total moratorium on the use of the phrases 'extremism' and 'far right' in political debate, since it is becoming clear that nobody has the slightest idea anymore what they mean."
The columnist, after noting that "'conservative' is now a word commonly used to describe the communist leadership of North Korea and 'extreme left' is now a word used to describe the backward-looking ex-communist politicians of Eastern Germany," said "we might be better off giving up altogether the attempt to use 19th-century political terminology in a post-1989, post-9/11 world."

The Hindu right
The New York Times, which seems to revel in label slinging, has discovered a new and potentially dangerous political force: the "Hindu right."
"The nearly 300 boys here [in Mandoli, India] at the Sewa Dham school, most of them from what are called the tribal belts of central and northeastern India, hew to a rigorous daily schedule from 5 in the morning until 10 at night," reporter Somini Sengupta wrote yesterday in a front-page story.
"They learn Hindu chants in the ancient language, Sanskrit. They are taught to give up their meat-eating ways and to become vegetarians. They are regaled with tales of brave Hindu warriors and saints and quizzed on the ravages of the Muslim emperor, Babur.
"Patriotic to some, frightening to others, this school represents a central project of the increasingly militant and powerful Hindu right," the reporter said.
The article did not say whether there is a Hindu left.

Celebrity journalists
"Why do stars travel from Hollywood to attend the [White House Correspondents] dinner? I think it's for the same reason journalists invite them: It's for validation they're important," Fred Barnes writes at the Weekly Standard's Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).
"There's a type of journalist in Washington who loves to attend dinners with Cabinet members, senators and House members, and other Washington bigwigs. It validates the journalist as significant figure in Washington, too. And by hobnobbing with Hollywood stars, if only for one night a year, reporters and columnists and TV commentators prove they are celebrities in their own right," Mr. Barnes said.
"Who better to mix and mingle with than Ozzy Osbourne, whose MTV show about his family life is currently the hottest thing on television. He was invited by Greta van Susteren of Fox News Channel, who didn't need any validation because she's already a star (cover of People magazine). But for nearly everyone else in the Washington media, huddling with Ozzy and having a picture taken was proof they matter professionally.
"There's nothing evil about the love affair with Hollywood celebrities. But it shows how frivolous Washington can be. And it permits the rest of America to regard a town that takes itself so seriously without much seriousness at all."

Moseley-Braun's future
Former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, Illinois Democrat, says she is considering a rematch with Republican Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald in 2004.
"I am being encouraged to stand for the Senate. I have not said, 'No,'" Mrs. Moseley-Braun told the Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington, Ill. "I haven't closed the door on it."
Mrs. Moseley-Braun, after her loss to Mr. Fitzgerald in 1998, served as U.S. ambassador to Samoa.


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