- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

News blackout

The establishment press continues to ignore the contents of Senate Judiciary Committee memos showing Democrats kowtowing to special-interest groups that wanted judicial nominees blocked for ideological or racial reasons, Byron York writes at National Review Online (NationalReview.com).

“One might expect most journalists — normally the recipients of leaks and protectors of leakers — to be more interested in what the documents say than in who leaked them,” Mr. York said.

“Instead, both the Washington Post and the New York Times seem strangely incurious; a faithful reader of both papers, if he read or heard or watched no other news, would know that there was some sort of flap about Judiciary Committee memos, but would have no idea what the documents were actually about.”

Mr. York noted that one memo detailed what became a successful Democratic strategy: to delay a vote on an appeals court nominee until after that appeals court had decided a major affirmative-action case.

“All of this half-reporting has left some Republicans very, very angry. They remember the fight over the appeals court nomination of Bill Pryor (now the target of a filibuster), when Democrats made a big fuss about documents concerning Pryor’s fund-raising work for the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“The only problem was, the documents were apparently taken illegally from the organization and given to Judiciary Committee Democrats — and then to the press.

“Back then, Democrats weren’t so angry about leaks. In fact, they saw nothing wrong with using the information — which, by the way, wasn’t very damaging — against Pryor. Now, however, they’re outraged and are calling for a full investigation.”

Taking the case

The Supreme Court said yesterday it will settle a fight over whether Vice President Dick Cheney must disclose details about secret contacts with energy industry officials as the Bush administration drafted its energy policy.

The court agreed to hear an appeal from the administration, which is fighting a lawsuit brought by watchdog and environmental groups over the energy task force Mr. Cheney assembled, the Associated Press reports. The panel met for several months in 2001.

The lawsuit seeks to force the administration to provide details about the panel’s records and inner workings. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club had won permission from a lower court to gather records related to the energy task force.

Lack of nuance

“Let’s be crass and assess the politics of the capture of Saddam Hussein,” Fred Barnes writes at the Weekly Standard’s Web site (WeeklyStandard.com).

“No one is boosted more than President Bush, the beneficiary of so much good news this fall (surging economy, 10,000 Dow, Medicare drug benefit). For him, only one more thing has to fall into place to assure re-election. That’s a sharp turn for the better in the twilight war against the Ba’athist diehards and their motley allies in the Sunni triangle of Iraq. The grabbing of Saddam, a pathetic, cowardly Saddam, could lead to exactly that — but not necessarily,” Mr. Barnes said.

“The big loser is Howard Dean — potentially. Dean has embarked on an image-altering effort so he’ll be seen as a centrist on foreign affairs. In interviews with The Washington Post and New York Times, he insisted the differences between himself and Bush are not great, mainly about style, not substance. He offered this amazing statement to the Times: ‘It’s all about nuance.’ In truth, there’s rarely been a presidential candidate with a less-nuanced approach to foreign affairs.

“Dean demonstrated this once again in his response to Saddam’s capture. He praised the capture, then claimed that it had created ‘an enormous opportunity’ to adopt what amounts to the Iraq policy of France. …

“And by the way, Dean claimed last week that he had never called Saddam a ‘danger’ to the United States.”

Fighting back

“There could be a new twist in the National Rifle Association’s bid to get around speech limits in the campaign-finance law just blessed by the Supreme Court,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Instead of trying to buy a domestic radio or cable-TV station, the NRA might go gunning for its enemies from outside U.S. borders. Rifleman Wayne LaPierre tells us he may skip the whole controversy by buying or teaming with a Mexican radio station on the U.S. border. That would beat dealing with new rules and overcoming licensing hassles. ‘If I could find a radio station in Mexico with 50,000 watts,’ he says, ‘I would go with them. Fifty-thousand watts would cover over half the country.’

“He might also set sail in the Good Ship NRA and broadcast from international waters. ‘We’re going to look at every possibility,’ he says, ‘to not get shut out of the electoral process.’”

Strom’s ‘heritage’

The late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s family says it “acknowledges” a California woman’s claim that she is his illegitimate daughter.

“As J. Strom Thurmond has passed away and cannot speak for himself, the Thurmond family acknowledges Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams’ claim to her heritage. We hope this acknowledgment will bring closure for Ms. Williams,” the family’s attorney, J. Mark Taylor, said yesterday in a brief statement.

“Contacted at his office, Mr. Taylor confirmed he was speaking for the Thurmond family, but refused to give detail or answer any questions, including whether the family was in fact verifying Mrs. Williams’ claims,” the Associated Press reports.

Mrs. Williams, 78, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Los Angeles, has said she will discuss her story tomorrow.

City leader

The National League of Cities has named Selectman Charlie Lyons of Arlington, Mass., as its new president.

At the group’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., it also picked D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams to be the new first vice president and Clarksburg, W.Va., Council member James Hunt to be second vice president, United Press International reports.

The league represents officials of 18,000 cities, towns and villages across the United States.

Off the cover

The capture of Saddam Hussein knocked Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean off the cover of Newsweek.

Meanwhile, Time magazine replaced a painting of Jesus on its cover with a close-up of a bearded Saddam, Agence France-Press reports. Both magazines had to scramble to get the Saddam story into issues that hit newsstands yesterday.

According to Time’s managing editor, Jim Kelly, Saddam replaced Jesus on the cover at 1 p.m. Sunday — 12 hours after the presses had started rolling and about 30 percent of the magazine’s 4-million-copy run had been printed.

It was the first time Time had changed covers during a print run since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

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

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