- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Edwards' boycott
Sen. John Edwards, in an attempt to boost his presidential campaign in South Carolina, announced Saturday that he will boycott the state.
Mr. Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat, said he will honor the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's boycott of the state because the Confederate flag continues to fly over a Confederate monument on the Statehouse grounds. The flag was moved there in 2000 after the NAACP successfully demanded that the flag be taken down from atop the Statehouse.
"I think the Confederate flag should come down, period," Mr. Edwards said during a campaign visit to Charleston that included a reception in an antebellum mansion.
Mr. Edwards said he will not stay in motels or hotels during campaign visits as "a personal statement of respect to the NAACP and their strong feelings about the issue." But, he added, his campaign will have to spend money to compete.
The NAACP says its boycott allows for "essential business."
"We realize to run an effective campaign, there will be spending in the state," James Gallman, president of the state NAACP, told the Associated Press.
Fighting a filibuster
"As he seeks to get his ambitious agenda through Congress, President Bush is going to learn that his chief legislative opponent isn't Tom Daschle or Nancy Pelosi," Kate O'Beirne writes in National Review.
"The legislative roadblock that threatens to derail his initiatives and nominations is Senate Rule XXII, the provision allowing a senator to mount a filibuster, thereby blocking a vote, unless a supermajority of 60 senators invokes cloture to end the protest. In recent Congresses, the mere threat of mounting a filibuster has been sufficient to prevent a simple majority of senators from acting. The opening volley in the liberal assault on the GOP agenda is the threatened filibuster of judicial nominees," the writer said.
"Democrats have disruptive designs on much of the Bush agenda, but since the announced offensive against fully qualified judicial nominees is unprecedented, so too should be the response of the Senate's new majority. A threatened filibuster alone should not allow 41 senators to block the confirmation of federal judges. Rather than surrender pre-emptively to the need for 60 votes to confirm a judge, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist should call the Democrats' bluff, and bring back the traditional filibuster. Let Kate Michelman, leader of the abortion lobby, man the cots and wipe the brows of weary Democrats forced to talk 'round the clock.'
"In response to Democrats' threats to filibuster Miguel Estrada's confirmation, Sen. Orrin Hatch has vowed to make them put up or shut up. Hatch, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently told GOP colleagues that, as far as he is concerned, 'If they want to talk about him for two weeks, they can talk about him for two weeks.' If Bill Frist shares Hatch's welcome resolve, it would be a sharp departure from the Senate's present practice, which allows a single senator to disrupt legislation simply by asserting his intent to mount a filibuster."
End of a program
The mayor of Boston has abolished an affirmative-action program that gave preferences to minority- and female-owned businesses in awarding city contracts.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the 25-year-old Minority and Women Business Enterprise program is unlikely to withstand a court challenge, the Associated Press reports. He issued an executive order last week giving contracting preferences to "small and local-owned businesses."
"It's unfortunate that in cities across the country programs similar to Boston's MWBE program are being struck down," Mr. Menino said in a statement released Friday. "But I am proud that our mission of encouraging business development will continue through our new Small and Local Enterprise Program."
Black political leaders, who said Mr. Menino's move came as a surprise, criticized him for failing to defend the program.
"It's premature for the administration to abandon the city's commitment to assuring that all people can participate on a level playing field particularly in light of the horrendous disparities in prime contracting based on race and gender," City Councilor Charles C. Yancey told the Boston Herald.
Gephardt's challenge
"In times of national crisis, voters often prefer established political figures to unproven newcomers. That should be good news for [Missouri] Rep. Richard Gephardt, who has been on the national political scene longer than any of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.
"As the House Democrats' leader from 1995 through the 2002 elections, Gephardt has been one of his party's most visible faces in the media. With a legion of loyal operatives, innumerable contacts developed from his fund-raising travels across the country and plenty of chits accumulated over the years, the Missouri Democrat has more than enough assets to build a top-rate national campaign," Mr. Rothenberg said.
"But the early signs are not what they might be for the former House minority leader, and Gephardt faces nagging and uncomfortable questions about his ability to excite Democratic activists.
"While Gephardt prefers to be seen as 'experienced' and 'tested,' he is vulnerable to being characterized as recycled and passe. That would be fatal in a party that has often rushed to embrace new faces, and it is almost certainly why his strategists are already talking about how to reposition the congressman for his White House bid."
Appeasing Sharpton
"According to Al Sharpton, the behavior of Al Sharpton is synonymous with the cause of civil rights, and therefore any criticism of Al Sharpton is, by definition, an attack on racial justice," Peter Beinart writes in the New Republic.
"By running for president, Sharpton is effectively asking the Democratic Party to bless that proposition. He knows that, by treating him as a legitimate candidate, the party is ratifying his self-coronation as the leader of black America. And, if the Democratic Party and the media accept him as the leader of black America, the post-Martin Luther King Jr., post-Jesse Jackson civil rights movement will become, in effect, whatever Sharpton says it is.
"So far, the five legitimate Democrat candidates are helping Sharpton achieve his goal. Howard Dean, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman, for instance, have begun publicly joking about which of them the reverend might pick as his running mate. All involved see this affectionate banter as win-win. Shapton wants legitimacy; the other candidates grant him legitimacy so he can't accuse them of racism. Were any one Democratic contender to slight Sharpton, he would instantly become the target of the reverend's ire, and the political mud-wrestling match that would ensue would lower his stature while his opponents looked on opportunistically," Mr. Beinart said.
"The problem is that this strategy of appeasement while wise for any given presidential candidate is devastating for the party as a whole," and will leave Mr. Sharpton as "the most important black leader in the Democratic Party."
NATO's future
"France and Germany continued this weekend to gamble with the institutions that have kept something called the Western alliance united for half a century," the Wall Street Journal says.
"The question to contemplate now is whether that alliance, formally known as NATO, continues to serve the interests of the United States," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"This may seem a radical thought, but it is certainly warranted by the astonishing recent behavior of nations thought to be U.S. allies. Three countries France, Germany and their mini-me minion, Belgium have moved from opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq into formal, and consequential obstructionism. If this is what the U.S. gets from NATO, maybe it's time America considered leaving this Cold War institution and reforming an alliance of nations that understand the new threats to world order."

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