- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

An amazing season

"Almost two years ago, I came to the conclusion that I had just witnessed the most amazing election cycle possible. Now I'm not so sure," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

"What could possibly top John McCain's primary bid, a roller-coaster presidential race, the Gores' kiss, the Mel Carnahan tragedy and Florida? Nothing, right?

"How about the attacks of September 11, the Jim Jeffords switch, WorldCom, the Torricelli-for-Lautenberg switch, the Paul Wellstone tragedy and a fight for the Senate that is impossible to handicap intelligently?

"As the final hours of Campaign 2002 tick away, three things seem clear. First, barring a last-minute wind shift or divine intervention, the Republicans are going to keep control of the House of Representatives. Second, the Democrats are headed for a big pickup of governorships. And third, I haven't a clue about who is going to win what in the Senate."

War of ideas

"The Democrats have lost the intellectual glue that held together their imposing political coalition, at one time combining Southern segregationists and Northern blacks, urban ethnics and Harvard dons," Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley writes.

"Their claims of unique expertise in foreign policy, built with World War II and the greatest generation, sank in the rice paddies of Vietnam. Their commendable civil rights accomplishments turned away from individual opportunity and into group entitlements. Their agenda of using the government to uplift the poor reduced itself to absurdity with the Great Society. Their economic policy, based on Keynesian demand management, dissolved in the stagflation of the 1970s. Under Bill Clinton, their one-time moral authority became a sick joke," Mr. Bartley said.

"Today's Democrats are little more than a collection of narrow interest groups unions, tort lawyers, minorities headed by an ossified leadership. They are clever, tenacious and increasingly nasty in defending their perks, as establishments typically are when they're being displaced by upstarts. So Democrats desperately scratch to hold power by their fingernails, with a frantic switch in New Jersey and by turning the Paul Wellstone memorial service into a partisan spectacle.

"Democrats have recently prospered by delivering their voters, occasionally with overtones of fraud. They're helped because the worldview of the media hive frames issues in the categories of a now-quaint 1960s liberalism. The academy, where Democrats once held sway, now indulges the unelectable left with causes such as disinvestment in Israel. In the face of all this, Republicans are generally intimidated by their long-time conquerors."

Mr. Bartley added: [Todays] elections will of course have tactical meaning if Democrats carry the House or the Republicans carry the Senate. But the larger results may be strategic, measured by whether they move the Bush administration and the Republican Party toward realizing that they have the advantage in the war of ideas, that they can win if only they stop apologizing and take their own ideas on the offensive."

Immigrant issue

Arkansas Republicans are hitting hard at state Attorney General Mark Pryor's silence about whether he paid taxes for a Mexican housekeeper he once employed, airing a last-minute TV ad aimed at the Democratic Senate candidate.

The ad says Mr. Pryor "is avoiding questions" about whether he paid cash to Ortenzia Osorio "to evade the law requiring that he pay Social Security and income taxes the rest of us have to pay."

Republicans charged Sunday that Mr. Pryor had hired an illegal alien, but Miss Osorio a native of Puebla, Mexico, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette filed an affidavit yesterday in Little Rock declaring that she was a legal resident of the United States. Yet the Pryor campaign did not respond to questions about whether payroll taxes had been paid for Miss Osorio, as required by federal law.

"Mark Pryor's statement [denying Miss Osorio was an illegal alien] raises more questions than it provides answers," said Arkansas Republican Chairman Marty Ryall. "The fact that the woman was paid in cash raises serious questions about whether Pryor paid the legally required taxes."

The last-minute accusation about the housekeeper first reported by Matt Drudge on his Web site, www.drudgereport.com adds an element of uncertainty to the Senate race in Arkansas, where Mr. Pryor had led Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson by 11 percentage points in the most recent poll.

Down and out

"The plunge in AOL Time Warner stock has hurt the Democratic Party and its chances of controlling both houses of Congress after [todays] elections," the New York Post reports.

"Many Democratic candidates across the country were pinched for campaign funds which they might have gotten in years past from Jane Fonda. The ex-wife of Ted Turner is reported to have given $11 million to leftist groups in the year 2000. But since most of her fortune is in AOL Time Warner shares, and the share price has plummeted from a high of $100 since then to less than $15 on Friday, Fonda has not been as generous," the newspaper said.

"And it's not just liberal politicians feeling the pinch. Groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club, past recipients of Fonda cash, cut back on their advertising budgets this year. 'The left-leaning organizations are spending less because they've raised less,' said one media consultant. Planned Parenthood is only spending $2 million, compared to $10 million in 2000."

The church vote

Georgia's top candidates spent Sunday morning at church, asking the believers to demonstrate faith in them, the Atlanta Constitution reports.

Gov. Roy Barnes and Sen. Max Cleland worked churches with large black congregations a key constituency for Georgia Democrats.

"The right to vote has been paid for by folks who shed their blood on the battlefield," Mr. Barnes told parishioners at Big Miller Grove Baptist Church in Lithonia. "If you sit back and don't vote, you don't have the right to complain."

"We all have a great opportunity Tuesday to come together as a people, to come together as a state. Reach out and touch someone on that screen," said Mr. Cleland, referring to the new touch-screen voting system that debuts statewide today.

In middle Georgia, the Republican candidate for governor, Sonny Perdue, attended Sunday services at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins, his home congregation, with his wife, Mary, three of his children and the couple's twin granddaughters.

Republican Senate hopeful Rep. Saxby Chambliss traveled into the heart of the Republicans' suburban base, attending the 11 a.m. service at the Snellville First Baptist Church, reporter Rhonda Cook said.

In the pulpit was the Rev. James Merritt, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who asked Mr. Chambliss and his wife to stand as he highlighted the challenger's conservative values and endorsement by a national Right to Life group.

Morris' predictions

Dick Morris, the former political adviser in Bill Clinton's White House, says Democrats probably will sweep the U.S. Senate elections today.

The New York Post columnist, after citing a series of polls by John Zogby, writes: "So Democrats are poised to pick up seats in Arkansas and Colorado. They might take seats in Texas and New Hampshire. Except for a possible upset in Georgia, the Republicans aren't likely to come up with any Democratic scalps.

"What went wrong for the Republicans?" the columnist asked.

"They don't have any issues after Clinton cut welfare and crime. Voters are mad about Wall Street's shenanigans and worried about the economy's doldrums.

"And President Bush lost the sense of urgency he had generated about Iraq in September by miring himself in U.N. negotiations with France. Bush's popularity dropped as he appeared to be too much of a politician and too little of a wartime leader in recent weeks."

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