- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2003

Prewar statements

“Washington is awash in prewar quotations, with Democrats avidly taking inventory of the Bush administration’s most dubious pronouncements about Iraq’s weapons programs,” Ryan Lizza writes in the latest issue of the New Republic.

“But not all of the most interesting, now seemingly exaggerated, claims are getting attention,” Mr. Lizza said.

“For instance, one high government official confidently asserted last October, ‘We know that [Saddam Hussein] has chemical and biological weapons.’ A leading hawk argued that Saddam ‘has large and growing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons,’ including ‘mustard gas, VX nerve agent, and a range of other chemical weapons.’

“Another official maintained, ‘[We] know that he continues to develop weapons of mass destruction [WMD], including nuclear devices; and he may soon have the ability to use nuclear weapons against other nations.’ Commenting on Iraq’s biological weapons program, yet another official said, ‘Most elements of the program are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf war.’

“Who are these mysterious hawks whose prewar analyses of Iraq’s WMD capabilities now seem so overblown? John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, and John Kerry. And their past statements are one reason that most of the Democrats running for president are still only tiptoeing around the issue of the missing WMD.”

No centrists, please

Wisconsin Democratic activists are in no mood to nominate a moderate for president, Reuters reports.

At a weekend convention, many party activists rejected any notion that the nine Democratic candidates should appeal more to moderates, reporter John Whitesides wrote. They said they would not make their choice based on which contender has the best chance of winning.

They want to pick the Democrat who is most aggressive in challenging Mr. Bush.

“Moving to the center may have been the right thing a decade ago, but not now,” said Dan Drumer, a retired electrician and union activist from Wind Lake, who attended the two-day gathering of more than 1,000 Democratic activists in Milwaukee.

That view, echoed by many of the delegates in Milwaukee, is great news for candidates such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq vaulted him from obscurity to the top tier of candidates and has fired up the party’s liberal wing.

Mr. Dean, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio all spoke to the convention on Friday night and received warm receptions for their jabs at Mr. Bush.

Mr. Dean won the straw poll sponsored by two political Web sites, winning 203 votes to 50 for the second-place finisher, Mr. Kerry.

Fewer than a third of those attending the annual gathering of the state’s Democrats participated in the exercise after the Democratic National Committee and all nine campaign organizations signed a letter to Wisconsin delegates urging them to skip the contest.

The letter said straw polls were a divisive waste of time and resources that reinforced the media’s emphasis on the “horse race” aspects of the campaign at the expense of issues.

Reluctant warrior

Former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley K. Clark continues to have a hard time deciding whether to run for president.

“I am going to have to consider it,” he said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” For at least the past year, the retired general has been considered a potential Democratic candidate, but he has refused to be pinned down.

“In many respects, I would like a chance to help this country. And I don’t know if that means being president or doing something else,” he said.

But his interview yesterday was the closest he has come to making an announcement and laying out a potential platform, Agence France-Presse reports.

He discussed his opposition to President Bush’s tax cuts, his support for racial preferences, and why the military should rethink its ban on open homosexuals.

Gen. Clark, while hinting at a run, is so reticent that he still declines to say whether he is a Democrat or a Republican.

Parsky’s comments

President Bush’s top California adviser, who for months has expressed little enthusiasm for the Republican-led effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, acknowledged Saturday that the recall appears headed for the ballot.

But the adviser, Gerry Parsky, reiterated that Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign remains his top priority and urged Republicans to look for candidates with Mr. Bush’s appeal to voters, the Associated Press reports.

“Although my priority is the re-election of the president, if recent media reports are to be believed then this recall appears to be on track to qualify,” Mr. Parsky told an annual gathering of moderate Republicans.

“If this effort qualifies, we as a party must be very thoughtful and disciplined if we want to find ourselves in a better place after this is all over,” Mr. Parsky said. “We must once again look to the president, his vision, his message, as a guide to those who would seek to run in a recall election.”

He added: “The president has appeal in California, so we need to have a candidate that will have similar appeal.”

Mr. Parsky made his comments to more than 300 people at the annual Firestone Republican Weekend in Solvang, hosted by moderate former Assemblyman Brooks Firestone.

Also speaking was Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who wants to replace Mr. Davis and is funding much of the recall campaign. Mr. Issa told the gathering that the party should hold a convention to unite behind one candidate.

Judicial supremacy

“If the Canadian government does not appeal a recent judicial ruling, gay marriage will become law up north on June 30. If the government does appeal, it will likely lose,” National Review magazine says in an editorial.

“Parliament is not likely to use its power to overrule the courts. The Canadian move does not mean that gay marriage is inevitable here. Same-sex marriages performed in Canada will have weak claims to legal recognition in the United States. Yet gay marriage in Canada sends a clear warning. Although the Canadian public is almost evenly split on the issue, gay marriage is being imposed on the country by the courts.”

The magazine added: “As a Massachusetts court prepares to circumvent the legislature and impose gay marriage on the state — and quite possibly the country — it will pay to keep the Canadian example in mind.”

Dean’s commercial

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he is “throwing down a marker” with a $300,000 television ad campaign designed to set himself apart from the field of Democratic presidential candidates.

“I think we’ve got a powerful message for Iowans,” Mr. Dean said. “They need to hear it.”

Mr. Dean introduces the first television commercials of the presidential election cycle tomorrow when he begins airing spots in virtually all television markets in Iowa, where precinct caucuses in January will begin the presidential nominating season.

The commercials are straightforward and feature Mr. Dean giving a condensed version of his stump speech, speaking directly into the camera, the Associated Press reports.

Both President Bush and other Democrats come in for criticism from Mr. Dean, who has introduced himself around the country as the candidate who represents “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” In the ads, he finds fault in what he sees as reticence of other candidates to follow the party’s traditional principles.

The commercials will run through July 2, and the kickoff is timed to coincide with Mr. Dean’s formal announcement next week of his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Story time

Democratic presidential hopeful Carol Moseley-Braun harkened back to her days in the Senate on Saturday to tell female political activists why she thinks a woman’s place is in the White House.

It was at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on the Medicare program, she said, and a senator proposed a 20 percent surcharge on mammograms provided under the health care program. It didn’t occur to the committee’s other senators that this might be a problem, she said.

“So I raised my hand and said: ‘Fellas, I know none of you have breasts to be worried about, but you have an awful lot of constituents out there who might have a real problem with having to pay a surcharge to get a mammogram,’” Mrs. Moseley-Braun said.

“You could literally see the light bulbs going off in the room,” she said. “Having somebody in the room to make the case is that kind of important,” she said in her speech in Washington to the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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