- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Axis of opportunism
Congressional Democrats are counting on European criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy to boost their own campaign to undermine Mr. Bush's credibility, according to an article in The Washington Post yesterday.
The Democratic effort to question Mr. Bush's honesty on domestic issues was designed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, reporter Jim VandeHei wrote.
"A top strategist for House Democrats, who declined to be identified, said party leaders are intensifying the campaign now to coincide with criticism of Bush's Iraq policy from world leaders. 'What's happening in Europe has been the trigger,' the strategist said. Daschle has encouraged activists in labor unions and environmental groups to spread the 'credibility gap' message, too. 'You will see this coming from all corners of the Democratic operation,' spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer said."
A Bush backer
Sami Al-Arian, the Florida professor arrested last week and accused of being a U.S. leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000 and later visited the White House.
The University of South Florida engineering professor boasted of his "role in electing Bush" at an Islamic fund-raising dinner in April, NBC News reports.
"I wanted to talk about the last elections, because I think I personally played a big role in electing Bush," Mr. Al-Arian is seen telling the gathering on a tape obtained by the network, which also showed a photograph of candidate Bush meeting Mr. Al-Arian and his family in 2000.
Mr. Al-Arian urged Mr. Bush to fight discrimination against Arab-Americans and said he received a better response from the Republican candidate than from Democrat Al Gore.
"Gore ignored us. Bush did not ignore us, in fact, everything we asked him for, he did," Mr. Al-Arian is seen telling the April gathering.
Mr. Al-Arian visited the White House in June 2001 as part of large Muslim group that met with top presidential adviser Karl Rove, although Mr. Al-Arian had been under FBI investigation for six years.
So long, Liberals
The New York Liberal Party, billed by members as the longest-existing third party in the nation, has shut down after nearly 60 years of helping to elect candidates from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Rudolph W. Giuliani.
The Liberal Party failed to collect the 50,000 votes it needed in November's gubernatorial race to maintain its status as a recognized party.
As a result, the party lost its automatic ballot slots in New York and its members officially became unenrolled or independent voters for election purposes.
Party leaders decided to shut down, rather than petition their way onto each ballot. They closed their state headquarters in December and last month announced the party's demise.
"We will continue to be proud to call ourselves Liberals, despite the loss of state recognition," reads a letter posted on the party's Web site. Party chief Raymond Harding declined comment yesterday.
The final blow came last year when Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate Andrew M. Cuomo quit the race for the Democratic Party nomination a week before the Sept. 10 primary. His name stayed on the general election ballot as the Liberal Party candidate, and he got just 15,761 votes on that line.
Kerry's 'socio-babble'
"To understand why Democrats lack credibility in the war against terror, consider the under-reported comments of current presidential front-runner John Kerry," the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.
"Asked after a Feb. 9 speech (televised later on C-SPAN) about the U.S. war on drugs, Sen. Kerry referred to the recent bombing at Club Nogal in Bogota, Colombia. 'It seems to be a renewal of a kind of chaos fueled partly by guerrillas who have legitimate complaints and the combination of drugs and war and the drug lords,' he said (our emphasis).
"The guerrillas in question are Colombia's notorious FARC terrorists, whose Club Nogal bomb killed 35 innocent civilians. They followed that up a week later by pouncing on the wreckage of an airplane that went down in the jungle, killing one American, execution-style, and kidnapping three others. …"
A spokesman for the senator told the newspaper that Mr. Kerry was referring to corruption in the Colombian government and a lack of investment in rural areas.
The newspaper concluded: "To take back the White House in 2004, any Democratic candidate is going to have [to] convince voters that he or she is serious about the war on terror. The start of being serious is to drop all the socio-babble about root causes and 'complaints,' and declare that we'll kill them before they kill us. Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt have shown signs they understand this. Sen. Kerry has a long way to go."
Bias? What bias?
New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines has been criticized for his paper's increasingly liberal slant on the news. But last week, Mr. Raines fired back, saying he is the victim of an "attempt to convince the audience of the world's most ideology-free newspapers that they're being subjected to agenda-driven news reflecting a liberal bias."
Accepting the George Beveridge Editor of the Year Award at the National Press Foundation's awards dinner on Thursday night, Mr. Raines worried that "those of us who work for fair-minded publications and broadcasters have been too passive in pointing out the agendas of those who want to use journalism as a political tool."
Mr. Raines said: "The most important development of the post-war period among journalists, American journalists, was the acceptance throughout our profession of an ethic that says we report and edit the news for our papers, but we don't wear the political collar of our owners, or the government, or any political party. It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship. To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now under way to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise in disinformation of alarming proportions."
McCain's complaint
Republican Sen. John McCain yesterday accused his party of misleading Republican activists about the nation's new campaign-finance law and employing "scorched earth" scare tactics to make the rules look more restrictive than they are.
Mr. McCain sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot accusing Republican lawyers of spreading "falsehoods" about several aspects of the law during recent briefings for party members, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. McCain said RNC lawyers inaccurately told party members, including state party leaders, at recent briefings that the law:
Puts everyone "severely at risk of going to jail for engaging in local political activity."
Requires every local and county party committee to register with the Federal Election Commission and pay for local expenses out of a federal account.
Support for war
Blacks are somewhat less supportive of war against Iraq than whites and Hispanics, according to a new poll.
A Pew Research Center poll found 44 percent of blacks support a war with Iraq, the lowest level of any group surveyed.
Overall, 66 percent of Americans favored military force, with support at 73 percent among whites and 67 percent among Hispanics.
The February survey of 1,254 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and slightly larger for the subgroups.

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