- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

Sharpton's shadow

"On his debut day as a presidential candidate, Al Sharpton upstaged most other Democratic wannabes at the first 2004 cattle show and showed why he gives big-time agita to a lot of Dem strategists," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"His rivals embraced the driving force behind the Tawana Brawley hoax as an equal aspirant to the Oval Office and even competed to curry favor with him. Both former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts claimed Sharpton had offered them the vice presidency," Miss Orin said.

"In fact, most other Democratic candidates seemed a bit cowed while Sharpton and Dean the two Democrats who are farthest to the left and the most passionate speakers got the loudest cheers from activists at Tuesday's dinner for the pro-choice lobbying group NARAL.

"'If Sharpton does well, it's going to be hard to deny him a place at the podium at the Democratic convention in prime time,' frets a party strategist already worrying about how heartland America will react. …

"One Democratic strategist says: 'We pray for Carol Moseley-Braun' the former Illinois senator who's the only black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. The hope is she'll join the race and draw some support away from Sharpton."

Sharpton's shadow II

"Al Sharpton and Washington, D.C., gave the Democratic Party real headaches this week," John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

"Mr. Sharpton, the demagogic New York minister, filed his papers as a presidential candidate and then shared equal billing at a dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The other five Democratic candidates tiptoed around him in their remarks as if they were navigating a minefield. No one wants to be accused of giving Mr. Sharpton an excuse to say he was 'dissed,'" Mr. Fund observed.

"Dissed is exactly what Democrats in the District of Columbia feel. When their party controlled all three branches of government, in 1993 and 1994, Congress wasn't able to pass a constitutional amendment to make the District a state.

"Republicans, of course, are loath to add two new Democrats to a closely divided Senate and suggest instead that District residents rejoin Maryland if they want more voting rights. So District Democrats are getting ready to vote to move their presidential primary to Jan. 10. They thereby hope to gain new leverage and clout for their city. But that would upset Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe's apple cart."

Mr. Fund added: "What party officials fear is that turning thumbs down on an early D.C. primary may come across as a slight to blacks. The real reason for their wariness goes beyond logistics. Mr. Sharpton would be the early front-runner in a field of six candidates running in a D.C. primary. Other candidates would feel compelled to compete with him, and they wouldn't have an excuse not to campaign in the nation's capital, where all of them but [former Vermont Gov. Howard] Dean work."

Springer eyes Senate

TV talk-show host Jerry Springer says he may run for the U.S. Senate next year.

Mr. Springer, a Democrat, said he will decide by summer whether to challenge Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, who has said he will run for a second term in 2004.

He acknowledged that his nationally syndicated "The Jerry Springer Show" could work against him, the Associated Press reports. Guests divulge their intimate secrets and frequently strip down to their intimate apparel on episodes with titles such as "Your Lover Is Mine!" and "Explosive Betrayals!"

"There are pluses and minuses," Mr. Springer said. "The plus is that I'm known by everybody. The minus is that I'm known by everybody."

Mr. Springer, 59, figures it would take $20 million to beat Mr. Voinovich and as much as $5 million to win a Democratic primary.

"I have the resources," the millionaire said Wednesday night before speaking at the winter meeting of the Ohio Democratic Party Chairs Association.

Mr. Springer is a former Cincinnati mayor and council member who lost the Democratic primary for governor in 1982 and considered running for the Senate in 2000. He said he also may run for Cincinnati mayor in 2005 or governor in 2006.

"I want to be helpful in rebuilding the party," he said.

Tale of two marches

"True to the historical pattern and despite the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, ABC, CBS, and NBC studiously ignored Wednesday's March for Life in Washington, a stark contrast with the Bush-bashing anti-war march just four days before," the Media Research Center's Tim Graham writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

"On broadcast network morning and evening news shows, the anti-war rally drew 26 segments, 14 of them before the rally began. On the same ABC, CBS, and NBC shows, the abortion issue and anniversary (with some oblique references to the March for Life) drew nine segments, four of them Wednesday morning, a few hours before the rally began," Mr. Graham said.

"The March for Life count should be considered to be zero. None of the preview stories explored the pro-lifers coming to Washington. Both NBC mentions on 'Today' merged the pro-life rally of tens of thousands with pro-abortion rallies of around 100. NBC's Lester Holt said, 'Rallies are scheduled in many places including Buffalo, New York.' CBS's abortion story had no mention of rallies. Only ABC's Robin Roberts noted 'President Bush prepares to address an anti-abortion rally.' (None of the morning shows touched on abortion [yesterday].)

"[Wednesday] night, only 'NBC Nightly News' focused on the debate in Washington. ABC's 'World News Tonight' went to Pennsylvania. 'CBS Evening News' traveled to Buffalo to highlight a handful of protesters cheering the five-year-old killing of abortionist Barnett Slepian. Reporter Jim Axelrod called that shooting 'an example of how abortion is redder than any other red-meat social issue in America. It's the one producing the most violence.' He meant the violence outside the clinics, not inside."

Zell's diet plan

Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, says he is in favor of tax cuts, but it is also time to put the federal government on a diet.

"We now have the biggest, most expensive federal government in history. Federal employees are thicker than maggots on a rotting carcass. So, why not start by abolishing vacant positions in every department except Defense and Homeland Security?" Mr. Miller writes in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"Congress could set the example by cutting our own staff to show that we are willing to stop feeding the hungry beast. …

"It's been said the Democrats blame the deficit on Republican tax cuts and the Republicans blame the deficits on the Democrats' social programs. And as long as they can blame each other, they will never solve the problem," Mr. Miller said.

"So, we need that tax-cutting Texan to also become a budget-cutting president. We need more members of Congress to decide that now is the time to cut taxes and at the same time tighten our belt. It's simple: Collect fewer dollars; spend fewer dollars. In the '80s and '90s, we 'drank that free Bubble Up and ate that rainbow stew,' as Merle Haggard sings. Now, it's time to go on a diet."

Comedy crew

South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas and former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman are just a few of the well-known names who will compete for the title of Funniest Celebrity in Washington.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the National Press Club, will benefit Work, Achievement, Values & Education Inc. (WAVE), a nonprofit organization aiding at-risk youth in Washington and across the nation. Chuck Conconi, editor-at-large of Washingtonian magazine, will serve as master of ceremonies.

For more information, phone 301/294-4690.

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