- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003

Not a good ol’ boy

“The Republican National Committee is circulating excerpts from several interviews with Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, in which the presidential contender admits he no longer listens to country music, pays no attention to NASCAR races and even no longer owns a gun,” the Hill newspaper reports.

“‘Haven’t hunted in years,’ Edwards told the Charlotte Observer. In another interview he apologized for once hunting rabbits and squirrels. Asked about fishing, Edwards replied, ‘I haven’t fished in years either.’

“‘Have you ever done any farming?’ the Observer inquired.

“‘No,’ Edwards said, then corrected himself. ‘I shouldn’t say never. When I was a young kid, we’d go sometimes and pull tobacco and stuff. But I never did any serious farming.’

“Admissions such as these, the GOP concluded, prove Edwards has lost his rural roots.

“‘His background speaks for itself,’ said Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary for Edwards’ campaign. ‘The Republicans, to use a rural term, are grasping at straws.’”

Hillary’s story

“AP, reporting on the contents of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, says that she did not believe her husband had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky until the day before his grand-jury testimony. It is not exactly a surprise that Sen. Clinton is sticking to this line in her book. But I don’t believe it for a minute,” Ramesh Ponnuru writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Maybe it’s partisanship, and maybe it’s Clinton-hating paranoia — but I doubt it. The Washington Post account about the book helpfully repeats Mrs. Clinton’s words to Matt Lauer a few days after the Lewinsky story broke. If the story about the president having an affair and lying about it were ‘proven true,’ she said, it ‘would be a very serious offense.’ She added, ‘That is not going to be proven true.’ Twice, she used the construction ‘proven true.’ Are those really the words that you would pick if you were convinced of your husband’s innocence?” Mr. Ponnuru said.

“The Lauer interview is famous because it was the one where Mrs. Clinton blamed the scandal on a ‘vast, right-wing conspiracy.’ In recent weeks, there have been a few references to those words as a gaffe on her part. But there was no mistake involved. The invocation of an anti-Clinton conspiracy rallied Democrats behind Clinton, and changed the direction of the media. Even now, there are still liberal journalists willing to argue that the Lewinsky scandal was a VRWC concoction. Mrs. Clinton was less her husband’s victim than his accomplice. Her spin was successful in 1998. It appears to be successful again today.”

Caro’s view

Historian Robert A. Caro has stepped into the imbroglio over President Bush’s judicial nominees.

With Democrats filibustering two nominees, Republicans are holding a hearing today to discuss changing Senate rules to, in effect, bar filibusters on executive nominees.

“Defining the right of extended debate is always tricky,” Mr. Caro wrote in a letter to senators this week. “If it is being used against you, it is a vicious weapon of obstruction, whose use in a democracy is unconscionable. If it is you who is using that weapon, it is a great one to have in your arsenal.”

Mr. Caro, who most recently finished “Master of the Senate” about former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s time as a U.S. senator, reminded lawmakers that the upper chamber was designed to be “the true deliberative body” that acted with more consideration for the longer view of history.

“I am not attempting to say that the right of extended debate should not be modified,” he wrote. “I am, however, attempting to say as strongly as I can, that in considering any modification, senators should realize that they are dealing not with the particular dispute of the moment, but with the fundamental character of the Senate of the United States, and with the deeper issue of the balance between majority and minority rights.”

Mi casa es su casa

“Remember Jesica Santillan? … She was the 17-year-old Mexican illegal alien who died in February after Duke University Medical Center bungled her heart-lung transplant,” Peter Brimelow reminds us on the Web site www.vdare.com.

“Recently, Duke University announced that it is establishing a $4 million ‘perpetual fund’ in Santillan’s memory. Duke said the fund would finance ‘additional support services for Latino pediatric patients and their families receiving treatment at Duke.’

“Wait a minute! What about equal protection? Aren’t ordinary Americans eligible for these ‘additional support services’ too?

“Fuhgeddaboutitit! Duke’s press release features (in English and Spanish) this imprimatur from Mexico’s consul in North Carolina, Armando Ortiz-Rocha:

“‘This is a wonderful idea because members of the Latino community face special cultural and language barriers. The Government of Mexico considers the creation of this fund as a major step in paying tribute to Jesica’s memory.’ …

“One small question: doesn’t the ‘Latino community’ face these ‘barriers’ because they’ve chosen to immigrate to an English-speaking country — to a significant extent, in violation of that country’s laws?

“Why should they also get privileged access to health care — paid for by Americans?”

Winner in Texas

A land developer defeated an accountant who used to be President Bush’s business partner in a tight Republican runoff Tuesday to succeed retired Rep. Larry Combest.

With all but one of the West Texas congressional district’s 207 precincts reporting unofficial returns, Randy Neugebauer had 28,530 votes to Mike Conaway’s 27,858 votes, the Associated Press reports. The one unreported precinct was in a county where Mr. Neugebauer led by a 2-to-1 margin.

Mr. Neugebauer and Mr. Conaway, both Republicans, emerged from a field of 17 candidates in a special election last month.

They were in a runoff to see who will replace Mr. Combest, who retired at the end of May. Mr. Combest had announced his retirement shortly after winning re-election in November. He served the 19th District for 18 years.

Mr. Neugebauer will finish the unexpired term and be sworn in today in Washington, the AP said.

Winner in Denver

A brew-pub owner who earned supporters with comical ads and promises of new ideas overwhelmingly won a runoff election for mayor of Denver.

John Hickenlooper won 65 percent, or 69,526 votes on Tuesday to defeat City Auditor Don Mares, who finished with 35 percent, or 38,126 votes, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hickenlooper will replace Wellington Webb, who is barred by term limits from seeking a fourth term as leader of the nation’s 25th-largest city. Although the election was nonpartisan, both men are Democrats. Mr. Webb didn’t endorse anyone.

The 51-year-old Mr. Hickenlooper surprised political analysts by surging to the front of a seven-candidate field full of political veterans in the May 6 general election.

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

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