- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2003

Biden, too?

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said yesterday he may yet join the Democratic field of presidential contenders, asserting a decision this fall won’t be too late for him to win the party’s nomination.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” the six-term Delaware Democrat said he was considering making a run for the White House and would announce a decision early in the fall.

There already are nine Democrats vying to challenge President Bush in 2004.

Asked if such a late start at fund raising and organizing for a nationwide campaign would doom his bid, as has been argued, Mr. Biden said: “They may be right. I’ve said from the beginning I’ll make that decision in early fall. If it is true that that is too late, then so be it. I believe it will not be too late to make that decision.”

Mr. Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has kept a high profile by criticizing Bush administration foreign policy. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1988.

He said that President Clinton didn’t announce his own candidacy until October 1991. Mr. Clinton went on to win the nomination and defeat President George Bush in November 1992.

A CBS News/New York Times poll last month said two-thirds of respondents could not name a single Democratic White House candidate.

Registration Sundays

Three Christian organizations have announced “National Christian Voter Registration Sundays” throughout 2003 and 2004.

The Christian Coalition of America, National Pro-life Religious Council and Priests for Life will formally announce the initiative at a news conference today at the National Press Club.

The Sundays designated as “National Christian Voter Registration Sundays” are June 15, Sept. 7, Nov. 9 and Jan. 18.

“We want to encourage pastors to preach to their congregations the responsibility every citizen has to register and vote,” said Father Frank Pavone, founding director of Priests for Life. “In the American system of government, followers of Christ have just as much right to shape public policy according to their beliefs as does anyone else.”

“The Christian Coalition of America prior to the November 2000 elections distributed a record 70 million voter guides throughout the United States,” said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, in a prepared statement. “It is not just a civic responsibility but also a basic Christian responsibility to register to vote and be informed about issues that candidates stand for that could ultimately shape our lives.”

The groups, in a news release, said the registration drives are nonpartisan and entirely within the bounds of the law and IRS guidelines under which churches and tax-exempt religious organizations fall.

Dean’s influence

“Howard Dean is the guy who has dictated the theme of this early campaign season,” Matt Bai writes in the New York Times Magazine.

“Once written off as a little man from a little state, Dean has expertly framed the 2004 [Democratic] nomination fight as a choice between white-hot liberal rage on one side and the room-temperature promise of ‘electability’ on the other. ‘Democrats are furious at their own party,’ Dean says. ‘They feel like the party’s leaders have taken a pass.’

“Washington Democrats, meanwhile, are convinced that the only way to unseat George W. Bush is to sound as tough as Patton and as mainstream as Wal-Mart,” Mr. Bai said.

“Neither side of this debate would seem to hold much promise for Democrats. Dean, who has only recently experienced a conversion to born-again liberalism, must know that the left is better at turning out martyrs than presidents. For the last 35 years, the left has rallied behind a series of liberal insurgents — and not once have they celebrated on Inauguration Day.

“The bad news for Dean’s rivals, however, is that Democratic protest candidates have proved very effective at indelibly soiling whatever image the party is trying to convey at the moment. And you have to wonder if the other candidates, ensconced in Washington, have any real grasp of the grass-roots revolt that is fueling Dean’s momentum. It’s not surprising that the party’s leaders feel like shoving Dean’s stethoscope down his throat when he says they only care about sounding electable. What’s harder to understand is why they seem so determined to prove him right.”

A happy ending

Thayrone, aka Terry Hughes, the uninhibited host of the “Bone Conduction Music Show” who was fired April 2 by a public radio station in Ypsilanti, Mich., has been picked up by a commercial station in Ann Arbor.

The new show will run from 7 to 11 Sunday nights, starting last night, the Detroit News reports.

Mr. Hughes was fired from WEMU because he refused to run National Public Radio news headlines at the top of the hour and because he repeatedly expressed his political views about the war in Iraq (pro-war and pro-President Bush).

After a Detroit News story about his firing was linked on the Drudge Report and other Web sites, Mr. Hughes became the toast of the conservative TV and radio pundit scene for a few days, appearing on Fox TV’s “O’Reilly Factor With Bill O’Reilly.” Mr. O’Reilly and others made much of the fact that Mr. Hughes was professing conservative political views on a public radio station, where liberal views are more commonplace.

The radio executive who snapped Mr. Hughes up is Ray Nelson, general manager for Clear Channel’s Ann Arbor stations.

Ironically, a station owned by the largest radio chain in the United States is giving Mr. Hughes what he couldn’t get from a public radio station: complete creative control, news reporter Susan Whitall said.

“It was public radio that tried to shut the show down, control it and homogenize it,” Mr. Hughes charged.

Mount Reagan

Henry Clay is out, Ronald Reagan is in.

The New Hampshire state Senate voted 18-5 on Thursday to rename Mount Clay in the White Mountains after former President Ronald Reagan, the Associated Press reports.

The bill, passed earlier by the House, goes to Gov. Craig Benson. Benson spokesman Keith Herman said the governor supports the renaming.

Mount Clay is the first peak on the ridge north of Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast. Clay is 5,533 feet high compared with Washington, which stands at 6,288 feet.

Supporters said it is appropriate to substitute Mr. Reagan’s name because Clay was never president. Clay was a statesman in the 1800s nicknamed the Great Pacificator for finding solutions that postponed the Civil War.

Mount Clay is in the Presidential Range, which includes Mounts Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce.

Opponents said it is premature to name a mountain for the 40th president because Mr. Reagan, 92, is still alive. They also noted the federal process to change the name of a mountain is not supposed to start until five years after a person’s death.

Making the grade

“When it comes to picking the most promising emergency first-responders to apply for the new Homeland Security degree, which qualification — old college grades or years of experience — do you think is more important to the government?” Paul Bedard asks in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“You got it: yellowed grade transcripts. Applicants for the new master’s degree program must have had a 3.0 average. That rules out some of the nation’s top emergency management officials who, like President Bush, skated through college with a C average,” Mr. Bedard said.

“‘They seem to want those of us with lots of life experiences,’ says one state emergency manager, ‘but all they’ll get are kids out of school. This is nuts.’”

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

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