- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

Connerly and Dingell

Ward Connerly, who last week was told in blunt language by Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, to butt out of his state’s affirmative-action debate, has responded with a letter telling Mr. Dingell how poorly the House’s senior member knows his Constitution.

“Some of my tax dollars contribute to your salary. That makes me an involuntary constituent of yours. Therefore, I must ask, do you treat all of your constituents with such contempt, arrogance and high-handedness, or do you reserve such treatment for the ‘uppity’ ones who insist on using their civil rights to participate in public policy-making?” Mr. Connerly wrote.

Mr. Connerly, chairman of the Sacramento, Calif.-based American Civil Rights Coalition who led successful initiative drives to make California policies race-neutral, is advocating for a similar initiative in Michigan.

Mr. Dingell, who represents the southeastern corner of Michigan, told Mr. Connerly in a July 9 letter to “go home and stay home.”

“Take your message of hate and fear, division and destruction and leave,” Mr. Dingell wrote, accusing Mr. Connerly of “ignorant meddling in our affairs.”

But Mr. Connerly said that letter reminded him of George Wallace, Lester Maddox and others who “wanted to practice their brand of racism free from the interference of ‘meddling, outside agitators.’”

“They were arrogant and intolerant bullies … and so are you,” he wrote.

For good measure, he also spends several paragraphs detailing the constitutional underpinning for his right to travel and advocate in Michigan, then points out that the Rev. Jesse Jackson plans to open a Rainbow Coalition office in Benton Harbor, Mich.

“Would you please be kind enough to send me a copy of your letter to him demanding that he ‘go home and stay there.’ I understand that he is also a non-resident of Michigan.”

Hatch’s decision

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, says he will schedule Judiciary Committee hearings for six Michigan judges despite the protests of the state’s two Democratic senators.

Mr. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter Friday to Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow saying he will schedule hearings for four nominees to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and two nominees for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Mr. Levin and Mrs. Stabenow had been blocking the hearings using a measure known as the “blue slip,” referring to the blue paper senators use to tell the Judiciary Committee whether they approve of a nominee.

Mr. Levin and Mrs. Stabenow were blocking the hearings because when Republican Spencer Abraham, the current energy secretary, represented Michigan in the Senate, he blue-slipped two of President Clinton’s nominees, including one who went four years without a hearing. They want the White House to establish a bipartisan committee to nominate judges.

Mr. Hatch said Mr. Levin and Mrs. Stabenow are misusing their authority, the Associated Press reports.

“To my knowledge, at no time during these extensive consultations have you articulated any specific objections to any of the nominees for the Michigan vacancies,” Mr. Hatch wrote.

No third term

Washington Gov. Gary Locke announced yesterday that he won’t seek a third term next year.

Mr. Locke, 53, the country’s first Chinese-American governor and the Democrats’ choice to answer President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, said he reached the decision “after much thought and careful deliberations with my family.”

“As profoundly important as it is to be your governor, it is just as important to me to be a good husband and father,” he said in a statement. Mr. Locke and his wife, Mona, have a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

After Mr. Locke made his announcement in Olympia, state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a fellow Democrat, said she will run for the post in 2004. She made a national name for herself by negotiating the $206 billion settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry in 1998.

Disciplined ‘crazies’

Both Democrats and Republicans have their “crazies,” says liberal author Todd Gitlin, but the difference is that Republican extremists “are tremendously disciplined, and they turn out to vote.”

In an interview with the San Francisco-based Web site Salon.com, Mr. Gitlin cites the example of Southern California conservatives in the early 1960s.

“Thinking that they were about to break through and win control of the [Republican Party] … they then lost the gubernatorial nomination contest, and some of them were ready to bolt to a third party. And they were talked out of it by their financial backers, on the grounds that they should be practical. And they stuck around long enough to nominate Goldwater, and although he was clobbered, that campaign launched the career of Ronald Reagan. Because they care deeply about power, they were persuaded to be practical.”

That, says Mr. Gitlin — who was president of the radical Students for a Democratic Society in the ‘60s — is “the crucial difference” between conservatives and liberals in America now.

“You can’t emote your way to power, you can’t moralize your way, you have to strategize your way to power,” says Mr. Gitlin, now a Columbia University professor. “The right has produced leadership between the saints and the politicos, people like Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, people who can harness the spirit without ever turning their backs on the prospect of real political power. And it got them a long way. They’re still there, and they’re central.

“And the result is that the Republican Party now has 30-40 years of experience of holding their crazies with the promise of rewards — either at the judiciary level, or making inroads on abortion, or walking the line on gay issues and so on. … They’ve also produced generations of politicians, like Bush himself — not to mention Bush’s brain, Karl Rove — who know how to dance between these worlds and keep everybody reasonably content.”

Hard work

The campaign to recall California Gov. Gray Davis has put a huge burden on election officials in the state’s 58 counties, who have the task of counting and verifying the more than 1.6 million signatures gathered.

Faced with the work of sorting through stacks of petitions, some counties have canceled vacations, diverted employees from other divisions, hired temporary workers and asked employees to work overtime, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s an awful lot of work,” said Scott Konopasek, San Bernardino County registrar of voters.

The extra duties come as counties are already struggling with budget deficits.

The counties have until tomorrow to report their totals to the secretary of state, who will announce Thursday whether enough valid signatures have been collected to hold a recall election this fall.

Unlikely casting

The husband of Democratic activist Barbra Streisand, actor James Brolin, has been cast as Ronald Reagan in a four-hour CBS miniseries titled “The Reagans,” set to air during the November sweeps period.

The network hasn’t asked Miss Streisand her opinion of the casting, “but we’ll have to live with that,” CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves joked Sunday in remarks to the Television Critics Association.

Mr. Brolin, who starred in the TV series “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Hotel” and “Pensacola: Wings of Gold,” will play Mr. Reagan as he moves from his film career to California governor to president.

Australian actress Judy Davis will play Nancy Reagan.

Asked about Mr. Brolin’s casting, Mr. Moonves said he is relying on the track record of veteran producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose credits include the most-recent Oscar winner, “Chicago,” and TV’s “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.”

“It took us a minute to digest it,” Mr. Moonves said, but “they were convinced that he was the right guy for it, and we back them.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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