- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

Don't be fooled again
"The legislative part of President Bush's faith-based initiative died in the Senate last week, the victim of Democratic intransigence and a failed White House political strategy," Marvin Olasky writes in World magazine, which covers the news from a conservative Christian perspective.
"The final blow came on Nov. 14 when Democrats refused to give 'unanimous consent' to consideration of the Senate version of a bill the House of Representatives passed last year. Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and other Democrats said that they needed more time to consider a decisive change in church-state relations. Senate leaders said there was no time for that during the short, 'lame duck' session " Mr. Olasky said.
"But Republicans also contributed to the demise by developing a bill so weakened, in an unsuccessful attempt to win substantial Democratic support, that conservative Christian groups did not fight to keep it alive. It's uncertain whether a bill more consistent with the compassionate conservative vision would have fared any better, but it's clear that on this issue the White House departed from its usual procedure of securing the base and then casting about for allies. Under the leadership of John DiIulio last year, the attempt to solicit liberal allies appeared to drive the whole process."
Mr. Olasky added: "A renewed legislative attempt is likely next year, and a White House fooled once by the hope of picking up broad support on the left for the faith-based initiative should not be fooled again."

Deeply troubling
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finds himself troubled by some aspects of Bob Woodward's book "Bush at War."
Mr. Gingrich, in the Wall Street Journal, concluded a review of the book this way:
"One last note: Confidentiality and secrecy go to the heart of governing in wartime. Some of what is contained in this book should be deeply troubling to the Bush administration and to those who worry about national security. Mr. Woodward admits that 'this book includes contemporaneous notes taken during more than 50 National Security Council and other meetings. Many direct quotations of the president and the war Cabinet members come from these notes.' He goes on to assert that 'war planning and war making involve secret information. I have used a good deal of it.'
"It makes no sense for an administration that has jealously guarded its executive privilege to allow a reporter the access it denies to members of Congress. Most important, presidential advisers should not have to worry that their thoughts and judgments might selectively appear in a book by Bob Woodward, whether this one or the next one."

The new team
"Conservatives may have mixed feelings about Trent Lott's tenure as leader of the Senate's Republicans, but he will now have a capable team of lieutenants to reinforce his better instincts," National Review says in an editorial.
"The majority whip (number two in the lineup) will be Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is smart and relentless. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has the third-ranking slot of conference chairman, and Jon Kyl of Arizona will run the Republican Policy Committee. If this crew threatens to succumb to any uncharacteristic accommodationist impulses, Jeff Sessions of Alabama will be keeping an eye on them from his perch at the Steering Committee," the magazine said.
"Meanwhile, the Republicans who will be chairing regular Senate committees are an improvement on their Democratic predecessors and, in some cases, on their Republican predecessors as well. Don Nickles of Oklahoma has been term-limited out as majority whip, but will now become chairman of the Budget Committee replacing Pete Domenici, whose reputation as a 'budget hawk' owes more to his historical caution about tax cuts than to any disinclination to spend taxpayer dollars.
"Senate liberals don't know what's about to hit them."

Devil's advocate
"How dismal was election night 2002?" Katha Pollitt asks in the left-wing magazine the Nation.
"At the party I attended, the mood was so glum that one young man stood up in the TV room and announced that he had just the thing to cheer us up: a five-minute compilation of commercials from Paul Wellstone's first campaign. He popped it into the VCR, and we all stared at the screen as the dead candidate ran for the Senate in 1990," Miss Pollitt said.
"I know what I'm supposed to say about the Democratic losses: The Dems stood for nothing/were indistinguishable from Republicans, so why not vote for the real thing? The last part of that argument has never made much sense to me why would you vote for the more intense version of something you supposedly don't like in the first place? True, overall the Dems fumbled just about every issue in hot pursuit of the ever-rightward-moving center. But may I play devil's advocate for a moment? As Nation readers were endlessly informed, there were a number of contests in which the differences between candidates were quite marked," but most of "the progressive-endorsed Democrats" went down to defeat.
The columnist added that "it's hard to look at the election results and see much confirmation for the view that voters are panting to surge left but the Democratic Party won't let them."

President Davis?
"Just when we thought the news from the Democrats' midterm elections debacle couldn't get any worse, along comes Gray Davis," the New Republic says in its editorial Notebook.
"It seems that the newly re-elected California governor has been emboldened by his success (and his fellow Democrats' failures) at the polls. So much so, in fact, that Davis who only a year ago seemed like a certain one-term governor thanks to his sorry performance during California's energy crisis now sounds like a man with his eyes on the White House," the magazine said.
"A recent article by the New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports that Davis, 'who had [emphasis ours] been discredited chortled as he pointed to his eventual victory to suggest what his colleagues in Washington might have done differently.' Davis told Nagourney: 'Unlike Washington, the Democratic Party stands for something in California. If you're in Congress, it's hard to go back to your constituents and say, "Look what the Democrats have done." You could do that in California.'
"But before Davis starts measuring the Oval Office for curtains, let's look more closely at what his California constitutents actually think of him. Facing a woefully inept Republican opponent in Bill Simon Davis won by a mere 5 percent. This despite the fact that he raised $65 million and outspent Simon nearly three to one. Davis received 1.4 million less votes than he did in 1998 and was outpolled by three down-ticket Democratic incumbents. Meanwhile, a recent poll shows that 60 percent of California voters held an unfavorable impression of Davis, and 61 percent don't like the way he has handled his job as governor. It sounds like the basis of a pretty good presidential run to us."

The court game
"Finished calculating the results of your Election 2002 office pool? Now you can test your prognostication of something just as weighty: the upcoming Supreme Court docket," National Journal reports.
"FantasyCourt.com, modeled on 'fantasy football,' asks participants to guess the outcome of, and voting split for, cases being heard this year at the Supreme Court. The service opened for business on November 4 and offers a $2,500 grand prize, to be awarded at the end of the court's term in June," the magazine said.
"The game is free to all participants as long as they have a law degree. That's because creator Rob Scott the head of Lawfinders Associates, a Dallas-based legal-support firm wanted legal practitioners to become more involved with the high court. 'Not every lawyer deals with the Supreme Court, but it behooves everyone to keep an eye out for the more important decisions,' spokeswoman Jessica Northrop says. Alas, the site does not offer a chance to pick which sitting justice will retire first."
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/635-3285 or [email protected].


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