- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Time will tell
If you believe what you read in the new Simon & Schuster book "The Emerging Democratic Majority," Republicans on Capitol Hill might as well pack their bags and head home.
Yes, American politics has gone in cycles where one party dominated for a decade or two. It was New Deal Democrats in command from 1932 to 1968, and from 1980 to 1992, conservative Republicans prevailed, even with the House and Senate in Democratic hands.
But John Judis, a senior editor for the New Republic, and co-author Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, predict that this November's midterm elections hold the potential to launch a "tremendous political realignment," the likes of which this country has not seen before, in the form of an "uprising" in Democratic political power.
The pair of political observers suggests Americans are "turned off" by what they describe as Republican big business, a year of "devastating scandals" (so much for the Clinton escapades), and right-wing religious affiliations. They predict a large jump in support this fall for "progressive Democrats," and their emphasis on health care, retirement benefits and the environment.
While not speaking to this particular book, but rather its arguments, Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot countered recently by noting that the Republican-controlled House passed important legislation providing prescription-drug coverage for America's senior citizens, as well as pension reform to provide for retirement security for seniors who need it.
"All bills that Senator Majority Leader [Tom] Daschle has been unable or unwilling to pass," Mr. Racicot said of stalled Senate action during much of the summer.
Republicans insist the GOP has a "firm grasp" on the upcoming midterm elections, and are actually in a position to expand their House majority. The Republicans also cite an advantage over Democrats in polls, momentum and fund raising.
All 435 House seats are up for grabs this November, along with 34 Senate seats and 36 governorships.
Mr. Judis and Mr. Teixeira argue, however, that shifting demographics complement geographic, political and ideological changes that are slowly gaining force in favor of Democrats.
Rural America, they explain further, typically a bastion of Republican strength, is shrinking, while support for Democrats is growing in urban areas.
A few keys to the November voting, say the authors: college-educated women (57 percent voted for Al Gore in 2000), as well as blacks (90 percent supported Mr. Gore two years ago) and other minorities, particularly Hispanics.

The "forest fire of the week" that is raging outside Los Angeles has yet to be blamed on President Bush, but give Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and his lieutenants time.
"If you want to start a fire, do you set a match to a big tree?" the DNC's leadership asks this week. "Apparently that's how President Bush would do it, since his 'fire prevention' program allows the timber industry to go deep into our national forests and cut down old-growth trees."
Democrats charge that Mr. Bush has overstepped his original proposal to clear out brush and small trees that help fuel fires, focusing instead on the removal of "big trees" deep in national forests, an accusation the White House denies.
The DNC claims Mr. Bush's trespassing into the forest is "nothing more then a gift to the timber industry, a big donor to Bush's campaign."
They bolstered their accusations this week by posting the arguments of Princeton economist Paul Krugman, who opined in the New York Times: "Wouldn't it be nice if just once, on some issue, the Bush administration came up with a plan that didn't involve weakened environmental protection, financial breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and reduced public oversight?"
How about his plan to invade Iraq?

Tree amigos
If you must sentimentalize, do.
Wax anthropomorphic, too.
Profess love for the trees
As much as you please,
But the trees still won't care about you!

F.R. Duplantier

Being No. 2
"Just saw your item about the passport agency misidentifying our vice president as Richard M. Cheney," writes reader Anne O. Allen. "It reminded me of a visit to the Chevy Chase post office shortly after the 2001 inauguration.
"A poster advertised stamps on sale for collectors, including a set honoring our new vice president, Richard B. Chaney (sic). Guess they all figure it's close enough for government work."

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