- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2002

Distressed Democrats
Former Vice President Al Gore's speech Monday, in which he announced his opposition to U.S. military action against Iraq, "may have complicated his party's political tasks in this midterm election year," New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney writes in a news analysis.
"Several Democratic strategists said [Tuesday] that Mr. Gore's speech was likely to feed into a Republican strategy of portraying Democrats as antiwar during the final weeks of a close congressional election. It could also encourage the few Democrats on Capitol Hill who have argued against the war to persevere in a debate that many Democratic Party leaders would like to end as soon as possible so they can clear the floor for a return to domestic issues," Mr. Nagourney said.
The reporter added that "there is clearly a split in the party between those who view the debate on Iraq as an important issue, and Democratic strategists, who are arguably more attuned to winning control of Congress than finding the best way of dealing with Saddam Hussein."

Understating Gore
"Distasteful as it may be, some notice should be paid to the speech that the formerly important Al Gore delivered Monday at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco," columnist Michael Kelly writes in The Washington Post.
"This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore's big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond the pale," Mr. Kelly said.
"Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate."

Thune's lead
Republican Rep. John Thune has pulled out to a 5 percentage point lead in the U.S. Senate race in South Dakota, according to a Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted for another statewide Republican campaign.
Mr. Thune led Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson 48 percent to 43 percent, with 2 percent favoring other candidates and 7 percent undecided.
The survey of 400 likely voters, taken Sunday and Monday of this week, had a 4.9 point margin of error.

The Iowa tapes
The Senate tape scandal in Iowa will become a criminal investigation.
Officials with the Polk County Attorney's Office told Des Moines TV station KCCI that they plan to begin a probe today of the surreptitious taping of a strategy meeting involving Republican senatorial candidate Rep. Greg Ganske.
An unnamed supporter of Mr. Ganske yesterday admitted surreptitiously taping the meeting and then giving the tape to the campaign of Democratic incumbent Sen. Tom Harkin.
The Des Moines Register's Web site (www.dmregister.com) quoted a statement issued by the supporter's attorney as saying he was "incensed" by Mr. Ganske's saying in his speech that "you've never seen a campaign where anyone will attack him like we're going to attack him, with a smile on our face."
The supporter provided the tape to a member of Mr. Harkin's staff, who passed along a transcript to a reporter.
Republican Party Chairman Chuck Larson said he's pleased that the person who recorded the meeting has come forward, but he still believes a crime has been committed. Mr. Larson said he's happy that the man who taped the meeting will cooperate with investigators and that law enforcement officers have decided to move ahead with an investigation.

Cornyn's dissent
Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, locked in a bruising battle for Phil Gramm's soon-to-be-vacant seat in the U.S. Senate, has taken issue with the Bush administration on the White House's refusal to release records from the energy task force headed by Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
This comes only hours before Mr. Bush is scheduled to appear at a massive fund-raiser in Houston to benefit Mr. Cornyn.
In March, Mr. Bush helped the Cornyn campaign raise $1.4 million by appearing at a Dallas fund-raiser.
"I'm very skeptical of their arguments, frankly," Mr. Cornyn said. "If there's one thing I could change [if elected Nov. 5], it would be to try to persuade the administration to be less closed when it comes to what they're doing."

An environmentalist
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., in an appearance Friday on CNN's "Talk Back Live," linked the recent attack by two baseball fans on Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gambola to the Bush administration's vow to oust Saddam Hussein as leader of Iraq.
"All right, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., what say you, sir, about this scandal in sports?" the Illinois Democrat was asked.
"Well, we're living in a violence-charged environment from sports, but also from the very top of our administration," Mr. Jackson replied. "We need to take a deep breath. We need to obviously get back to some basic values and try and find alternative dispute resolutions."

Out of retirement
Barbra Streisand is emerging from self-imposed retirement to help out her old pals in the Democratic Party, Reuters reports.
Two years after bidding farewell to her career as a public performer, the 60-year-old entertainer and devout liberal will headline the Sunday benefit for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. She will share the bill with Barry Manilow and comedian Steve Harvey, among others.
"Barbra's passionate belief in the importance of the Democratic Party's regaining control of the House is so deep that she has decided to sing three times as many songs as was originally planned," said David Foster, producer of the upcoming event. One number will be a "political parody that will raise a few eyebrows," he said.

The welfare bill
The House Ways and Means Committee last night released language of a proposed resolution to extend the current welfare law for three months.
The nation's major cash-assistance, work-support and child care programs expire Monday, but the Senate has yet to pass a bill reauthorizing them.
By extending current welfare programs through Dec. 31, states and recipients will have some "continuity and stability" and allow "the House and Senate to complete work on a five-year reauthorization during the remainder of the 107th Congress," a spokeswoman said.

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