- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

The mean of Dean

It’s official: Howard Dean is sullying the public discourse.

“Not only does this Democratic field lack a positive agenda to offer the American people, it has taken presidential politics to a new low,” noted Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie during a speech last night in Essex Junction, Vt.

“Never before in the history of our country has any major party candidate seeking the presidency used the kind of language these candidates are using against a sitting president of the United States,” he said.

Mr. Gillespie was referring to the former Vermont governor, who most recently called President Bush “the enemy,” among other things.

“I know the American people recognize that [the candidates] rhetoric goes beyond legitimate political discourse,” Mr. Gillespie notes. “This is political hate speech. And while people appreciate passion in politics, they reject hatred. And the voters instinctively know that anyone who’s willing to demean the presidency in order to gain it is not worthy of having it entrusted to him.”

Nyet, Howard

Uh-oh. Howard Dean doesn’t know his Russian Federation from his Belarus, apparently.

“The key to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union,” the former Vermont governor told MSNBC when asked about how he’d prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran mostly likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons,” Mr. Dean said. “We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union, and it may require us buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran.”

The Wall Street Journal Online’s James Taranto did the math yesterday. “That’s four times Dean mentioned the Soviet Union — a country that hasn’t existed for almost 12 years,” he observed.

Peevish liberals

The increasingly “loony Left” is still all a-dither over President Bush’s Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad, but at their own peril, writes the New York Post’s John Podhoretz.

The more they rant, the more the trip remains in the public eye.

“There are those who argue that Bush took the trip not because he wanted to spend time with the troops, but because he wanted — get this — to overshadow Hillary Clinton’s visit to Iraq,” Mr. Podhoretz observed.

“Why, others want to know, didn’t Bush stay longer in Iraq? See more troops? See more Iraqis? Why didn’t he go to Germany to visit the wounded in hospitals? Why was he wearing an army jacket?”

“These responses range from the peevish to the dyspeptic, from the merely cynical to the near-psychotic. Bush is increasingly fortunate to have such people as his enemies, because their demented anger continues to seep into mainstream Democratic Party discourse and threatens to make all anti-Bush rhetoric seem like the ravings of a bunch of lunatics. That happened during the Clinton years, and it’s happening now.”

Ten sense

Eighty determined lawmakers want former President Ronald Reagan to replace Franklin Roosevelt on the dime, which has not been changed since 1946.

“FDR believed the federal government should spend your dimes. Ronald Reagan believed the people should spend their own dimes. I think it’s clear that the dimes in your pocket should bear Ronald Reagan’s image,” said Rep. Elton Gallegly, California Republican and one of the co-sponsors of the Ronald Reagan Dime Act.

One spokesman said the Republicans were fired up over the recent brouhaha surrounding “The Reagans,” a history-bending CBS miniseries that took potshots at Mr. Reagan and his wife, Nancy.

Delano Roosevelt, grandson of the former president, insists that the whole idea is bogus, according to the Los Angeles Daily News yesterday.

“I could care less about who’s on the dime,” he said. “But it’s all about how they are going about it. And I think it’s embarrassing that the congressmen have nothing else better to do than to do some sort of grandstanding thing just to get them on ‘This Week In Review.’”

A son speaks

“I want my money back.”

So said Michael Reagan on being asked by Fox News whether he had watched “The Reagans” on the premium cable channel Showtime.

Mr. Reagan later canceled his subscription to the channel, which only managed 441,000 viewers for the Sunday night show.

Steer clear

The California Assembly overturned on a 64-9 vote a law that would have given driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign off on the bill later this week.

Advocacy groups are asking Hispanics, immigrants and sympathizers to respond to the bill’s repeal, originally approved by former Gov. Gray Davis, by boycotting work, schools and stores on Dec. 12.

“I would prefer if Dec. 12 were a day when no one was coming here illegally … Unfortunately, taxpayers can’t go on strike for all the costs of illegal immigration,” Mike Spence of the California Republican Party told the Los Angeles Times yesterday.

Some Democrats still believe the immigrants have a “right” to drive.

“Unfortunately, with a driver’s license in hand, terrorists are better able to blend into the population and avoid detection,” countered Republican Assemblyman John Benoit. “This is not conjecture or speculation. It’s exactly what happened on 9/11.”

Fond farewell

Rep. Cass Ballenger, North Carolina Republican, announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election in November for a 10th two-year term.

“The time has come for me to pass the torch,” said Mr. Ballenger, who has given 38 years of public service in local, state and federal government.

“Retiring from elected office doesn’t mean I’ll be taking it easy,” he added. “I’m looking forward to devoting more time to my company and the Ballenger Foundation, and I’m going to work hard to elect more Republicans to office. I am thankful for the unforgettable experiences I have had in Congress serving the 10th District, and now it’s time to move on to other things.”

The lawmaker, who turns 77 on Saturday, has never lost an election. He will step down Jan. 2, 2005.

Hands off

The publisher of the Nation, a left-wing political journal, has shied away from advising the nine Democratic presidential candidates, or endorsing any of them.

“Number one, I don’t have a candidate,” Victor Navasky told the news analysis Web site Media Bistro yesterday.

“Number two, I don’t particularly feel qualified or interested in advising the Democrats on what qualities a candidate should have. I do feel interested in talking about issues of policy and evaluating candidates by where they stand on issues of policy. Magazines like the Nation, the New Republic, National Review, it seems to me, their least important contribution is who they support for president of the United States,” Mr. Navasky said.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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