- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Thune and Daschle
Has South Dakota Republican John Thune, fresh from a razor-thin loss to Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, lost his mind by considering a race against Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004?
"Nope," says political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.
"I, for one, think he's perfectly sane. In fact, challenging Daschle in 2004 looks like an entirely reasonable option for Thune," Mr. Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.
"The case against a run by the former at-large representative is clear. Thune, who turned 42 earlier this month, has plenty of years ahead of him to run again for higher office. By challenging the popular Daschle, the Senate minority leader, Thune risks back-to-back losses and a developing reputation as a loser."
But if Mr. Thune does challenge Mr. Daschle, "the Republican begins with considerable strengths and assets," the columnist said, including high name identification and a 65-28 percent favorable/unfavorable rating in a recent statewide poll."
"Finally, and maybe more importantly, Daschle wouldn't be able to attach himself to Bush the way Johnson did effectively," Mr. Rothenberg said.
Bring back Nixon
"President George W. Bush is so awful in the eyes of Newsweek's Eleanor Clift that on 'The McLaughlin Group' over the weekend she yearned for the return of Richard Nixon to the presidency," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.
The Clift quote: "I'd like to have Richard Nixon back actually. I think he'd be a huge improvement."
Said Mr. Baker: "Clift's pining for Nixon came after she charged that Bush's new economic team 'will be a disaster' because they are selling 'the same stupid policy' as the old team, yet before she awarded Bush an 'F' grade for his first two years in office.
"Assessing President Bush at the halfway mark of his term, Clift asserted: 'Old economic team was a disaster. The new economic team is selling the same stupid policy. They'll be a disaster, too. Ari Fleischer is a mouthpiece. He gives away nothing. The press can't stand him. The president loves him because this is the most secretive and arrogant administration we have seen probably since the days of Richard Nixon.'
"John McLaughlin, who worked in the Nixon White House, jokingly cautioned Clift: 'Be careful now, Eleanor.'
"Clift responded: 'I'd like to have Richard Nixon back actually. I think he'd be a huge improvement.'#"
Master strategist
Rep. Robert T. Matsui, the Californian chosen by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "may be the man (along with former Speaker Tom Foley) most responsible for losing the House for the Democrats in the first place," Mickey Kaus writes at www.kausfiles.com.
Mr. Matsui was the legislator who, even as Bill and Hillary Clinton's health care plan went down to disastrous defeat in 1994, "made sure Clinton's welfare plan stayed bottled up in the House Ways & Means committee (on which he served). The Clinton 'two-years-and-go-to-work' plan was too conservative, he explained to me at the time. …
"When smart liberals, sensing a potential voter revolt, approached Matsui privately in mid-1994 and suggested that it might be politically wise for the Democrats to pass some bill to reform the despised welfare system even if it was a bill far more liberal than Clinton's Matsui got righteously angry with them, too. The result: no welfare bill," Mr. Kaus said.
"Truly monumental miscalculations are rare in Congressional politics, but Matsui's was one of them. Democrats went before disgruntled voters in November of 1994 with no health care reform and no welfare reform. They lost control of the House and they've never gotten it back. You can't buy that kind of 'long-range strategic vision!'#"
Litmus test
Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's largest abortion providers, is demanding that the Senate approve only pro-choice jurists.
"We call on the Senate to reject any judicial nominee who does not affirm fundamental civil rights, including a woman's right to make her own childbearing choices. The threat an anti-choice judiciary poses to women's lives demands nothing less," Susanne Martinez, vice president of public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a prepared statement yesterday.
"For the first time, the White House and both Senate and House majorities are aligned in anti-choice lockstep. If the president's anti-choice judicial nominees are confirmed, the scales of justice are sure to tip. Make no mistake. This country is already at war. And it's a war on women. A right-wing judiciary is all that is necessary to deliver the final blow to women's most basic human rights," she said.
She's baaaaack
When White House Counselor Karen Hughes resigned from her post last summer to move back to Texas with her family, she promised to return for the State of the Union address.
She didn't realize, of course, that Washington would be in the throes of its worst deep freeze in years.
"It's a little cold," Mrs. Hughes told The Washington Times from the White House yesterday. "But it feels very familiar. I said I'd be back, and here I am."
Mrs. Hughes, who has remained a close confidante of the president since leaving the White House, actually has been working on tonight's speech for months.
"We have a process that begins in November with our first meeting on the State of the Union," she said. "I was up here for that and also came up several times in December."
Mrs. Hughes has been working with the president's top speechwriter, Michael Gerson, and two of his deputies, Matt Scully and John McConnell.
"We kind of work back and forth and brainstorm and listen," she explained. "The president's gone through several practices the last several days."
It all culminates with tonight's presidential address to a joint session of Congress, after which Mrs. Hughes can return to the relative warmth of Texas.
A revealing survey
"The political class warriors can never seem to figure out why their 'tax cuts for the rich' mantra fails to sway the American public. In the spirit of educating even our opponents, we'd point them to a recent poll from Fox News," the Wall Street Journal says.
"In addition to the usual questions about President Bush's tax-cut proposals, the poll asked voters what is the maximum share of income that any American should pay in taxes. More than half think it should be no more than 20 percent, and another quarter think it should be somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent.
"So nearly eight of every 10 Americans think than no one, not even Bill Gates, should pay more than 30 percent to the government," the newspaper observed in an editorial.
All is forgiven
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings says all is well between his group and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
"We have been working with him and will continue to," Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said yesterday.
The caucus was not happy with Mr. Daschle when he initially excused comments made by Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi that seemed to endorse Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign on a segregationist platform.
A few days after Mr. Lott's remarks, Mr. Daschle told reporters he thought Mr. Lott's words were a misstatement. That prompted some members of the caucus to criticize Mr. Daschle for giving Mr. Lott a pass. Mr. Daschle then came back with a stronger statement against Mr. Lott's remarks.

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