- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002


Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld are "civilian warmongers driven by ideology," Newsweek magazine says.

Reporter Michael Hirsh, in a profile of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, suggested that the Bush administration is being pushed into war by bloodthirsty right-wingers.

"Powell is no dove on Iraq; like Cheney and Rumsfeld, he wants Saddam gone. But their differences over means have deep roots," Mr. Hirsh writes. "The hard-liners believe the assertion of U.S. power is enough. Powell is wary of civilian warmongers driven by ideology."

Brushing aside Mr. Powell's assertion that any differences within the administration are overhyped, Mr. Hirsh suggested that the war clouds over Iraq were produced mainly by crass partisan politics rather than concern for U.S. security.

"But election politics are at work even now," Mr. Hirsh said. "One administration official concedes that, for the president, the politics of keeping his conservative base as his father failed to do in 1992 is driving much of the debate over Iraq. 'It was not just the ["read my lips"] tax increase that killed George Bush. It was those conservative strains in the United States,' says a senior GOP official. 'If we're perceived to be driven by the U.N. and all these treaties, man, we're going to have trouble with the right the way his father did.'"

While describing Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney as "unilateralist hard-liners," the Newsweek reporter said Mr. Powell "evinces an almost Bill Clinton-like idealism about globalization."

Still in play

"The California gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Gov. Gray Davis and Republican challenger Bill Simon is still very much in play," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"A recent statewide Field poll showed Simon trailing Davis by 7 points with both candidates polling at less than 40 percent. This means that voters are still trying to make up their minds and will likely break late making a last-minute scandal or October surprise potentially devastating but also increasing the importance that solidly committed voters will play in each campaign," the wire service said.

"Therein lies some good news for Simon, according to a new poll conducted for his campaign by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies. The survey shows Simon has pulled ahead of Davis 'among voters most likely to vote' in the upcoming Nov. 5 election. Turnout is expected to hit almost historic lows on Election Day, giving the hard-core supporters of each candidate a disproportionate degree of influence on the outcome of the race.

"Among 'most likely voters,' Simon leads Davis 41 percent to 36 percent. The survey of 800 voters was conducted after the Field Poll and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. The survey also found that 56 percent of respondents say they want the state to have a new governor, while only 39 percent want Davis re-elected."

Sanford's style

South Carolina voters are "captivated" by former Republican Rep. Mark Sanford's "unorthodox style" in the campaign for governor, Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

"With no previous political experience, no following among Republicans, and zero name ID, he won a U.S. House seat in the coastal Charleston area in 1994. Sanford faced no opponent in his last two races, but nonetheless honored his promise to serve only three terms and retired in 2000. In the runoff last June for the GOP nomination for governor, he overwhelmed Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler, who was backed by most of the Bush forces in the state. Now he has an even or better chance of ousting [Democratic Gov. Jim] Hodges," Mr. Barnes said.

"If he does, it's likely to be one of the few Republican pickups of a governorship this year. And it would give the GOP full control of South Carolina the governorship along with both houses of the legislature."

Mr. Sanford is campaigning for a smaller bureaucracy, school vouchers and the phasing out of the state income tax, Mr. Barnes reports.


"Democratic leaders attempted to derail what should have been a collegial, bipartisan event in New York last Friday, when Congress held its historic session there to honor New York a year after September 11," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.

"Friday morning, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Republican Senate leader Trent Lott rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and later told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that both Democrat leaders, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, were expected to be there, but pulled a no-show.

"Not so, shot back Democratic operatives: Neither man had been invited, and due to previous obligations, neither could have made it downtown to Wall Street in time anyway.

"In fact, the NYSE had been negotiating with Gephardt and Daschle up until about midnight on Thursday, attempting to get the four leaders onto the balcony to ring the bell. Initially, Daschle had agreed to appear with the Republicans, and then do a brief solo interview on CNN and CNBC. But when Gephardt balked, the Senate Democrat did, too. Instead, Daschle did multiple TV appearances from the congressional meeting site at Federal Hall. Neither of the Democrats wanted to be seen in the center of all things capitalistic.

"'You could just see the Republican ads showing tight camera shots of Daschle and Gephardt ringing the bell, smiling as stock sales took off,' says a Democratic House staffer. 'We're the party of corporate responsibility and stock market reform. To ring that bell would make us look like hypocrites. Obviously, our Republican colleagues just don't get it. Which is the point we've been making all along on those issues.'"

Complete parity

"When it comes to state legislative control, it is fair to say that the two parties are at almost complete parity, with the Democrats hanging on to a slight edge," State Legislatures magazine reports.

"Heading into the fall election, Democrats control 18 legislatures. Republicans have the majority in 17. In 14 states, control is divided with neither party controlling both chambers, and the Nebraska Unicameral is nonpartisan. There are still 275 more legislators who are Democrats than Republicans. But Democrats have seen their numbers decline in the past 25 years. In 1976, Democrats held 68 percent of all legislative seats. That number is now down to 51 percent," Tim Storey writes in the magazine, which is published by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"Although post-election control of each legislative chamber is impossible to predict, change is inevitable. A shift of only three seats from one party to the other would change control of 24 legislative chambers, and it is almost a given that the majority party will change in at least some states. In fact, an average of 12 chambers switched party control in every election since 1984. So the question is not will any chambers switch, but which ones."

A bold statement

John Zogby has earned his spurs as a pollster, and so a statement he made in the Hill newspaper must have raised a few eyebrows yesterday.

Mr. Zogby, in claiming to ascertain a wave of anger against incumbents, told reporter Allison Stevens that Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, and two other prominent House Republicans are in danger of losing their seats in the November elections.

"In every instance, once the messages are tested, the incumbents' messages go down and the challengers' go up. Here's three entrenched incumbents who could [lose on election Day]," Mr. Zogby said, referring to Mr. DeLay, as well as seven-term Republican Rep. James T. Walsh of New York and 10-term Republican Rep. Michael Bilirakis of Florida.

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