- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

The weakest link
"Prominent national Democrats now regard Sen. Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey as their party's most vulnerable Senate incumbent, prompting concern that his endangered seat might cost Democrats control of the Senate," the New York Times reported yesterday in a front-page story, just a few days after a poll showed him trailing by 14 points.
"Many Democrats said they had expected Mr. Torricelli to overcome his ethics troubles more easily. Instead, his predicament has roiled the party and stirred resentment toward him among fellow Democrats," reporter Raymond Hernandez wrote.
"Some of them say that Mr. Torricelli's wounds are self-inflicted and that he opened himself to attack not to mention gave ammunition to his Republican challenger, Douglas R. Forrester by engaging in behavior that led the Senate Ethics Committee to reprimand him in July for improperly accepting gifts from a campaign donor.
"Echoing a sentiment that is widespread among party leaders in and out of Congress, Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he now viewed Mr. Torricelli as the most endangered Democratic incumbent in the Senate."
Mr. McAuliffe told the newspaper: "He's dead-even at best."
A SurveyUSA poll released Thursday found Mr. Forrester leading Mr. Torricelli, 52 percent to 38 percent.
Crawford cooling
An article in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly blames global warming for severe thunderstorms and hail at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, during a recent visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"But that possibility apparently seemed as remote to Bush as the likelihood that the storm was a sign from God," said Stephanie Mencimer, an editor at the magazine.
Christopher C. Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition, responded, "There's a good reason why this twaddle may not have crossed President Bush's mind. It turns out that, according to data from the United States Historical Climatology Network, it's getting cooler around Crawford.
"The nearest long-term temperature station to the Bush ranch is in Temple, Texas, 34 miles south of Crawford. It shows a cooling trend since 1890, and since 1920 the yearly average temperature has fallen by well over 2 degrees Celsius."

The tax issue I
New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, denies assertions by her Republican rival for the U.S. Senate, Rep. John E. Sununu, that she is a big taxer.
"That's just a partisan attack," Mrs. Shaheen said Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
Asked if she would roll back President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut if elected, she said, "No, I wouldn't."
Mrs. Shaheen contends that she has been "very fiscally responsible as governor of New Hampshire the last six years. We still have the lowest tax burden in the country, just as we did when I got elected."
Mr. Sununu, who also was on the show, has been characterized by Mrs. Shaheen as being in the palm of special interests. Asked on CNN whether he favors new tax cuts to help improve the economy, he said he is for cutting capital-gains taxes.
"Where the tax code is concerned, the most important thing [to] do right now is simply reform it," said Mr. Sununu, whose father, John H. Sununu, served as chief of staff to the first President Bush.

The tax issue II
"Apparently forgetting the bruising electoral battles ahead in the struggle for control of Congress, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels Wednesday dashed hopes for more tax cuts before politicians skip town in less than a month," Joel Mowbray writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Citing the costly, almost-certain war in Iraq, Daniels announced that the White House would not promote any new tax cuts before November although his office suggests that his remarks were not intended to undermine modest measures currently on the table in Congress," Mr. Mowbray said.
"With investor confidence tanking, many congressional Republicans are itching for a tax-cut package tailored specifically for investors, who make up the solid majority of the electorate and now outnumber jobholders, according to a new poll by Democrat pollster Mark Penn. The White House also had tax-cut fever back in August but Daniels's comments likely signal that Iraq is becoming the administration's all-consuming focus.
"For a whole host of reasons tax cuts aimed at investors have not yet managed to gain traction. The best solution from a policy and political standpoint slashing the rate for capital-gains taxes has not even been raised as a goal by either the White House or congressional Republicans."

McCain's future
In his new book, "Worth the Fighting For," Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, says he doubts he will make another run for the U.S. presidency.
"I've had a bout with cancer, and the immortality that was the aspiration of my youth, like all treasures of youth, has slipped way," Mr. McCain writes at the conclusion of his book, an excerpt of which was read yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I did not get to be president of the United States, and I doubt if I shall have reason or opportunity to try again," wrote the 65-year-old lawmaker, who gave George W. Bush a run for his money in the 2000 Republican primaries.
In his book and on the air yesterday, Mr. McCain said he has had 44 years of public service and must soon decide if he wants a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. "My third term will end in 2004," he said.
Pressed by host Tim Russert, Mr. McCain said, "I am inclined to continue in public service. I am inclined to continue to fight."
Asked if he would "probably not" seek the presidency again, Mr. McCain replied: "As I said in my book, I don't see the opportunity or the reason."

Rating the governors
"The Cato Institute has released its annual report card on the nation's governors, giving them each a grade for their performance on taxes and spending," United Press International notes in its Capital Comment column.
The grades, given out by economist Stephen Moore and Steven Silvinski of Arizona's Goldwater Institute, are based on 17 objective measures of each governor's fiscal performance, the wire service said.
"Governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades. Those who have increased spending and taxes the most receive the lowest grades.
"The two governors bringing home A's to the voters are Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, both Republicans. Those governors bringing home F's were Democrats Gray Davis of California and John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Republicans Don Sundquist of Tennessee and Bob Taft of Ohio. Fortunately for the voters in Oregon and Tennessee, their governors are retiring and will not be held back and forced to repeat the year."

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