- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

Life or death
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's first day of public exposure as the new chairman of the Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee focused on attacking President Bush on the environment.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, said, "Some words can't express our frustration" about Mr. Bush's environmental policies. Not that they didn't try. Mrs. Boxer said the president is undertaking an "assault on the environment unlike anything I have seen in public life," citing a supposed weakening of the "dolphin-free tuna" law as especially terrible.
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, told of the shock he felt when he visited Antarctica and saw the huge icebergs, "freshwater reserves," break off and float away into the ocean. (How these "reserves" were to be used by man in the first place, was left unanswered.)
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said Mr. Bush's "rollbacks" of environmental protections have been done in a "mean-spirited way." And Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, called these "dangerous days for America" and he wasn't talking about the threat of terrorism.
Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords, an independent, said that tough fights ahead on the environment are a matter of life and death, and that Democrats must protect people "who will die" if Mr. Bush is allowed to rewrite environmental policy "in the dark of the night."
Compared with those alarmist screeds, Mrs. Clinton's comment that Mr. Bush is merely going back on his word to "be good stewards of the environment" is downright tame.
One of the main themes of the Democrat Party's environmental press conference was that President Bush has a knack for releasing announcements in changes to environmental laws on Friday afternoons.
"When it comes to the administration's policies on the environment, every Friday seems to be Friday the 13th," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. These "horror shows" are unprecedented in presidential history, Mr. Leahy said, because the Bush administration has shown such sophistication in attempting to manipulate the public.
"No administration has used polls and marketing strategies more than this administration," Mr. Leahy said, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, nodded her agreement.
Students of the Clinton presidency might dispute that statement. Indeed, former staffers who invented the Friday news drop, especially of scandal-related information, and bragged about their creative use of polling data might be insulted by Mr. Leahy's accusation.
A high-ranking Republican staffer's jaw dropped when he heard Mr. Leahy.
"I think that's truly amazing," he said. "For Senator Leahy to say that in front of Senator Clinton, whose husband was probably the most poll-driven president in American history, is not only ridiculous, but outrageous."
One might recall the frequently told story of former Clinton chief political adviser Dick Morris, who conducted a poll to determine where the first family would spend their vacation. Worried that continual trips to posh Martha's Vineyard might make the Clintons seem out of touch, their poll revealed that the people wanted to see them rest their triangulated souls in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Vazsonyi memorial
A memorial service for Balint Vazsonyi, concert pianist, author and columnist for The Washington Times who died Friday, will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Western Presbyterian Church, 2401 Virginia Avenue NW.
The family asks that in lieu of sending flowers, donations be made to the Hospices of the National Capital Region, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, Va., 22031.
Bush's bloc
Despite proposals by the White House for increased immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds no evidence of a Republican surge among Latino voters in the 2002 midterm elections.
The CIS report by James G. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, is based on Fox News Election Day polls in 10 states with key races for U.S. Senate or governor.
Among the key findings:
The Latino vote for Republican Senate candidates was similar to prior years, at about one-third.
Turnout of lower- and middle-income Latinos was much lower in 2002 than in 2000.
Latino voters who identify themselves as independents are, in fact, likely to vote Democrat. The fact that many of these independents stayed home in 2002 helped Republicans.
Despite everything we hear from President Bush and fellow Republicans, there is no Latino voting bloc. There is no difference between Latino voting and the voting pattern of non-Latino whites in 2002.
Says Mr. Gimpel: "If Latinos cannot be politically distinguished on the basis of ethnicity after we account for their income and education levels, why do we persist in the belief that we need to reach them with a distinctive set of policy proposals on immigration, illegal-alien amnesties or any other set of issues tailored only around 'their' interests?"

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