- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

Civil war’

“Al Gore made it crystal clear [Tuesday] that one of his prime goals in endorsing Howard Dean for president is to kiss Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party goodbye,” Deborah Orin writes in a news analysis for the New York Post.

“‘We need to remake the Democratic Party,’ Gore said as he threw his support to Dean at a breakfast just down the street from Clinton’s Harlem office and gave the front-runner a big boost toward the 2004 Democratic nomination.

“Gore singled out Dean’s opposition to the Iraq war as the reason why he’s endorsing a candidate who disagrees with him on everything from the assault-weapons ban to middle-class tax cuts to Medicare,” Miss Orin said.

“That puts Gore directly at odds with Sen. Hillary Clinton — who voted for the war — and sets up a civil war inside the Democratic Party over Iraq. …

“Gore tried to set himself up as the Democratic kingmaker and in effect the party leader — usurping a role that Bill Clinton sees as his by right.”

Democratic doubts

“Al Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean on Tuesday ended any question about whether the former Vermont governor has become the contender most likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination,” Susan Page writes in a news analysis for USA Today.

“But the former vice president’s embrace didn’t settle concern among some senior Democrats who believe that President Bush is vulnerable — but probably not to a candidate with Dean’s hot rhetoric and lack of national security experience,” the reporter said.

“For them, the question is: Can anyone stop Dean?

“‘There are a lot of people wringing their hands and talking to each other,’ says Patrick Griffin, a senior aide in the Clinton White House. He hears nervousness from members of Congress about whether Dean on the ballot would dim their re-election prospects.”

Twist of the knife’

“Once upon a time, the Clintons and the Gores shared everything, from political tickets to intimate White House dinners,” reporter David Saltonstall writes in the New York Daily News.

“But those days seemed long gone [Tuesday] after the former vice president charged that the Democratic Party — the party of Bill and Hillary Clinton — needed to be ‘remade’ as ‘a force for justice and progress and good in America.’

“The usually loquacious Sen. Hillary Clinton offered a stony, one-word answer when asked whether she agreed with her husband’s once-loyal veep.

“‘No,’ said Clinton.

“Behind the scenes, observers said the frosty response had more to do with 2008 — when both Gore and Hillary Clinton are projected as potential presidential contenders — than current affairs,” the reporter said.

“Under this view, Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean [Tuesday] was aimed at seizing long-term control of the Democratic Party, in part by gaining favor with front-runner Dean and his growing base of active, left-leaning Democrats.

“That Gore chose to make his endorsement in Harlem — down the street from former President Bill Clinton’s office — was just an added twist of the knife.”

Last refuge

“Democrats routinely complain that President Bush and his political team call them unpatriotic for criticizing Bush on the war in Iraq,” the Weekly Standard observes in an editorial by Fred Barnes.

However, a search of the records shows that nobody in the administration has ever even insinuated that Democratic congressional leaders or presidential candidates were unpatriotic, the magazine said.

“There is, however, one political figure who’s been accused time and again of being unpatriotic: President Bush. The accusers? Democrats.

“[Florida Sen. Bob] Graham said Bush’s Iraq policy is ‘anti-patriotic at the core, because it’s asking only one group of Americans, those soldiers in Iraq and their families, to pay the price of the occupation.’

“[Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry was harsher. In a candidate debate last September, he said Bush ‘lives out a creed of greed for he and his friends. I’m tired of seeing chief executives be permitted to take their millions or billions to Bermuda and leave the average American here at home stuck with the tax bill. You know what I call that? Unpatriotic.’

“Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton complained of Bush, ‘Real patriots don’t put troops in harm’s way on a flawed policy.’ And [Howard] Dean has questioned the patriotism of Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft.”

Hitting a nerve

The Club for Growth TV ad that criticizes Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for advocating all manner of tax increases “has hit a nerve,” the Wall Street Journal says.

Joe Trippi, Mr. Dean’s campaign manager, “denounced it as a ‘bald-faced lie,’ and the Dean campaign quickly released its own counter-spot,” the newspaper noted in an editorial.

“What makes the Dean response so interesting is what its rejoinder leaves out. Far from denying the substance of the Club for Growth charges, the Dean campaign changes the subject. The former Vermont governor, runs his defense, is a ‘fiscal conservative who cut state income taxes — twice.’

“As it happens, even this claim has come under fire. To begin with, at least one of those Vermont state tax cuts — the largest of the two — was signed into law by his Republican predecessor. Then, too, while the Dean folks like to talk about how they got rid of the sales tax on clothing, the Boston Globe notes that under his administration the overall sales tax actually went up.”

An opinion journal

The American Conservative Union, warning that limited-government conservatism is in danger, presented a new online journal of opinion yesterday.

Current features at www.ConservativeBattleline.com include the following: the Republican Party as the new welfare state party, the limits of the Bush plans for democracy in Iraq, the culture wars, the “GOP sellout on Medicare,” and critiques of National Review, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

“The $7 trillion unfunded liability of the new Medicare prescription drug bill created by a Republican Congress and signed by President George Bush this week is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as it is the largest expansion of non-defense discretionary spending since the Great Society. We are forced to act,” said Donald Devine, a vice chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation, who will serve as editor. David Keene will be publisher.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.


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