- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

Happy days

Wesley Clark was all smiles Saturday after the Christmas birth of his first grandchild — and he used the happy event to bash President Bush, the Arizona Republic reports.

The Democratic presidential candidate told a crowd in downtown Phoenix that the successful delivery was a big reminder of the importance of the nation’s health system. It’s a system, he said, that is being run into the ground by President Bush.

“George W. Bush says he’s going to fix the health care system,” Mr. Clark told about 350 people at the Wyndham Hotel. “Instead, he’s left our health care system in a fix.” Mr. Clark, who was making his third swing through Arizona, also was buoyed by a mid-December poll showing him in what his campaign called “statistical first place” in the state’s Feb. 3 primary against former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the newspaper said.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, was taken after a high-profile endorsement of Mr. Dean by former Vice President Al Gore, the Democrats’ 2000 presidential nominee. The poll, taken Dec.13-15, showed Mr. Dean with 31 percent of the Arizona vote, compared with 29 percent for Mr. Clark. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman finished a distant third with 10 percent. Clark staffers said that with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, the survey showed Mr. Clark and Mr. Dean in a virtual dead heat.

Humoring the yokels

“A few weeks ago at a ritzy fund-raiser for the Committee to Protect Journalists, my wife, Lisa, was introduced to a man named Steven Isenberg,” New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets writes.

“Isenberg was once [New York] Mayor John Lindsay’s chief of staff. Later, he was the publisher of Newsday. Now he teaches literature at the University of Texas in Austin,” Mr. Chafets said. “That gave them something in common: Lisa is a graduate of the University of Texas. “‘Are you from Texas?’ he asked. “‘No. I’m a Louisianan.’ “And he said: ‘Well, you’re the cleanest one I’ve ever met.’ “Reading Howard Dean’s Christmas Eve interview in the Boston Globe [in which he suddenly touted his belief in Jesus] reminded me of Isenberg.

Both are New York liberals who now live among people they regard as their inferiors.

“Isenberg thinks these people are too primitive to bathe. Dean imagines that they’re too stupid to think. … “This assumption runs especially strong in what Dean likes to call ‘the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.’

These people don’t believe in much, but they are fervent on the subject of their own superiority. To them, America’s red states (as identified in TV maps on Election Night 2000) are populated by ignorant cowboys, unwashed swampies, hellfire preachers, beauty parlor bimbos, redneck sheriffs, Confederate flag wavers and retarded hillbilly kids sitting in trees playing the banjo.

“This picture of Southern inferiority, like all articles of faith, is immune to both empirical observation and personal experience. To guys like Dean, Dixie is and will forever remain a vast county fair where a slick Yaleman can sell 5-gallon jugs of snake oil in return for votes.”

New Democrats

“It is a foul political season for those of us with sympathies for the New Democratic agenda,” Jacob T. Levy writes at the New Republic Online (www.tnr.com).

“Joe Lieberman’s campaign is showing a few signs of life, but they are far too little, far too late. Clintonistas have mostly gravitated toward Wesley Clark, still a blank slate on domestic policy, or John Edwards, in many ways an Old Democrat who happens to have youthful good looks and enough of a drawl to remind them of the good ole days. And presumptive nominee Howard Dean is calling for a rollback of deregulation and explicitly distancing himself from Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party,” said Mr. Levy, assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of “The Multiculturalism of Fear.”

Mr. Levy added: “In retrospect, it appears that the New Democratic moment was a fragile one, and its highlights more than a bit accidental. Welfare reform, NAFTA, and the WTO were all essentially products of the interaction between Clinton, a small minority of moderate Democrats, and a majority (but not an overwhelming majority) of congressional Republicans.

The budget surplus was the result of a bitter standoff between Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s GOP over fiscal policy; for a brief moment, both sides decided they would rather let accumulating revenues just sit there than let the other side use them.

“But the good news is that, accidental or not, some of the most important New Democratic policy triumphs of the ‘90s are more or less locked into place,” Mr. Levy said, citing among other things the establishment of the World Trade Organization. “And that may contribute to changing the political climate a few years down the road.”

Caroline and Arnold

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of President Kennedy, explained yesterday why she is enthusiastic about California’s new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican to whom she is related by marriage.

“I think Arnold really has inspired people to come together in a great way and to get involved in public service,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’d like to think that he learned a little bit of that from his in-laws.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, is Mrs. Kennedy Schlossberg’s cousin; Maria’s mother, Eunice, is a sister of President Kennedy.

The ferret issue

Thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger, there could be hope yet for ferrets, banned as pets in California for 70 years on the fear they might weasel their way into the wild and ravage populations of ground-dwelling birds. Some ferret owners believe the new governor, who worked with a ferret in “Kindergarten Cop,” will sign legislation legalizing the animals, the Associated Press reports.

“We have an inequity here, and this man is sensitive to that kind of thing,” said Jeanne Carley, founder of Californians for Ferret Legalization. “The state wildlife agency doesn’t regulate cats and dogs, so why should it regulate ferrets?” State Sen. Dede Alpert told the Los Angeles Times she hoped to move legalization through the Legislature next year. Mr. Schwarzenegger has been busy with other priorities, especially the state’s multibillion-dollar fiscal mess. A spokeswoman refused to comment Saturday on what his stand might be on the ferret issue.

Two endorsements

Democratic presidential candidates Wesley Clark and Howard Dean each picked up a congressional endorsement over the weekend. Mr. Dean won the support of New Jersey Rep. Robert Menendez, who is No. 3 in the House Democratic leadership and the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress. Mr. Clark was endorsed by Rep. Dale E. Kildee, the first member of Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation to announce a favorite in the party’s nine-way primary, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Dean now has 28 congressional endorsements. Mr. Clark has 16.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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