- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

So sorry

"A lot of Democrats are suddenly sounding very sorry they attacked President Bush on what he knew about 9/11 before it happened and the polls show why," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Less than two week after Democrats from Sen. Hillary Clinton to House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt went after Bush, it seems clear the president has won this round," Miss Orin said.

"Bush's job-approval rating is still up in the stratosphere 74 percent in a new Harris Poll and terrorism again tops the national agenda (the top concern for 30 percent of Americans vs. 17 percent for the economy).

"'In the short term, it backfired the Democrats probably helped boost Bush's numbers by pushing the agenda back to terrorism, which is his strength, instead of issues like Social Security,' says GOP pollster John McLaughlin.

"'There's a window in May-June when people can focus on politics before summer and now the Democrats have blown the chance" to use that time to focus on their domestic agenda.

Already dragging

"Now that businessman David Chang has gone to jail for making illegal contributions to Sen. Robert Torricelli's 1996 campaign, the Senate Select Committee owes it both to Torricelli and the public to decide promptly whether to take action against the [New Jersey Democrat], who is up for re-election in November," Roll Call said yesterday in an editorial.

"It's a mystery to us whether he violated the law or Senate ethics rules. Chang, as part of a failed effort to save himself from imprisonment, gave government prosecutors and a U.S. District Court judge a long list of alleged Torricelli violations. These range from demands for (and receipt of) more than $100,000 in cash, acceptance of lavish gifts and even threats that Chang might be killed by mobsters if he cooperated with prosecutors investigating Torricelli," the newspaper said.

"Torricelli has long maintained that Chang is mentally disturbed and a pathological liar. Operating in Torricelli's favor is the decision by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White not to prosecute him and to turn her evidence over to the ethics committee, which has had his file for five months now. Last week, Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, who's leading the review of Torricelli's case, told Roll Call, 'I don't think we want this matter to drag on forever.' However, it is already dragging."

GOP 'pandering'

"Earlier this month the [Republican National Committee] launched a Spanish-language television news show titled 'Abriendo Caminos '('Expanding Pathways'), a move that is co-extensive with the Republican Party's ongoing effort to include Hispanic voters in their communications," Raul Damas writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"Right on schedule, charges of 'pandering' have emanated from the Left and, more significantly, the Right," said Mr. Damas, who is director of operations at Opiniones Latinas, a bilingual polling firm.

"If the Republican Party is to remain a viable political force, knee-jerk accusations of pandering should be summarily dismissed, especially when they come from Republicans," Mr. Damas said.

"Pandering is defined as 'catering to the lower tastes and desires of others.' Why does a television program, which showcases Republican ideas and achievements, become demeaning once it is translated into Spanish?

Mr. Damas added, "Running political ads on Spanish-language television is not pandering, but simply a case of recognizing that there are different kinds of people in this country who get their information from different sources."

Kerrey's memory

Bob Kerrey has changed his recollection of a deadly raid in a Vietnamese village that put the former Democratic senator from Nebraska at the center of a national discussion last year about U.S. conduct during the war.

Mr. Kerrey now writes in a new memoir that he was aware women and children had gathered in the village before his Navy team began shooting an account that differs from the version he gave news outlets when the story broke last year, the Associated Press reports.

Last year, Mr. Kerrey said about 13 civilians were killed "by mistake" after his SEAL team was fired on and returned fire during the raid to capture or kill Viet Cong officials believed to be meeting in Thanh Phong on Feb. 25, 1969.

He said two of his men killed several people they came upon at the start of the raid because the two believed they were a threat. Mr. Kerrey said he had not ordered the killings, but he took responsibility for them. He said he did not know of the civilian casualties until the shooting stopped.

But in "When I Was a Young Man," the new memoir, he writes that his men were fired upon from the direction of women and children who had begun to gather outside the huts. The Americans fired back and the villagers were caught in the cross fire.

Mr. Kerrey, who won the Bronze Star for leading the Thanh Phong raid, acknowledges the contradiction in an author's note. He says his recollection changed when he met with members of his squad after the news reports.

Beaten at own game

"Anti-corporate protesters at ExxonMobil Corporation's annual shareholder meeting in Dallas Wednesday packed up and left after finding themselves outnumbered by free-market demonstrators," Marc Morano reports at www.CNSNews.com.

"The anti-corporate protesters began arguing among themselves about how best to deal with the large number of free-market demonstrators carrying banners such as 'Yankee Rent a Mob Go Home,' 'Capitalism Rocks' and 'Greenpeace Hates America.' They quickly decided to pack up and leave," the reporter said.

"'I think we rattled them. They're packing up their bags and they're leaving,' said Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality, one of the free-market groups conducting a counter-demonstration. 'Victory is sweet,' he added.

New in town

"The Objectivist Center, a think tank devoted to the study of public policy through the philosophical prism developed by the late Ayn Rand, is celebrating the opening of its new Washington office June 8," United Press International reports in it Capital Comment column.

"Ed Hudgins, the former Cato Institute scholar, heads up the effort. The soiree will be held at the Phoenix Park Hotel on June 5 and will feature remarks from Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, and Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith, among others. Rand, it will be recalled, penned 'Atlas Shrugged' and other books celebrating the value of human freedom in many affairs."

Still fighting Florida

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy yesterday challenged the Justice Department's limited action against complaints of voting-rights violations stemming largely from Florida's disputed 2000 presidential election.

In a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Vermont Democrat asked why the department authorized filing suits in only five out of the 14 cases it investigated.

Joined by four Senate Democrats, Mr. Leahy asked Mr. Ashcroft to "provide the Judiciary Committee with detailed information concerning the nine cases in which the department chose not to pursue litigation," Reuters news agency reports.

George W. Bush won the election after a divided U.S. Supreme Court rejected Al Gore's request for selective recounts in heavily-Democratic Florida counties after the legislature's deadline for certifying the results.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Assistant Attorney General Ralph Boyd said the department would file suits charging voting-rights violations in three Florida counties. He said it would file similar suits in a Tennessee municipality and one in Missouri.

It was later disclosed the Florida complaints deal primarily with would-be voters who needed language assistance.

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