- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The White House and some Democratic leaders yesterday condemned Rep. James P. Moran's comments last week tying war in Iraq to pressure from Jewish interest groups, though Democrats stopped short of calling for him to resign.
"I think Mr. Moran made comments that were unfounded, baseless and very out of line. I think it's a sad day when comments like that are made," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
"I don't think that Mr. Moran ought to resign," Mr. Daschle said in answer to reporters' questions. "I think there are other ways with which to make sure that comments like this don't occur."
Mr. Moran made his comments last week to anti-war advocates gathered at a Reston church.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this," he said at the event, organized by the Greater Reston Interfaith Peace Coalition, according to the Reston Connection newspaper. "The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."
He has since apologized for the sentiments, but condemnation still poured in yesterday.
"Those remarks are shocking; those remarks are wrong, those remarks are inappropriate; and those are remarks that should not have been said," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, released a statement yesterday afternoon saying his comments "have no place in the Democratic Party," while House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said not only were Mr. Moran's comments inappropriate, but the premise was fundamentally incorrect.
Still, neither said Mr. Moran should resign.
"I think he said a stupid thing. I think Mr. Moran thinks he said a stupid thing. If we all resigned every time we said a stupid thing, we'd all be gone," Mr. Hoyer said.
The Democratic National Committee and prominent Jewish Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut also criticized the remarks.
Mr. Moran said he encouraged Democratic leaders to denounce his remarks.
"I want them to do that. I understand the politics of the situation. I want them to divorce themselves from me as fast as they can," he said.
He said that his own "apology is justified because of the hurt the words caused, and the fact that on their face without elaboration they are condemnable."
Mr. Moran said the context of his remarks, which he has made to other audiences without objection, is that religious denominations could affect policy if they united in opposing the war. He said he also mentioned Catholics and Baptists in that context.
Also, Mr. Moran's daughter is converting to Judaism, the religion of her fiance.
Local Jewish leaders Monday called on Mr. Moran to resign, and compared his remarks to those of Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, who was forced to give up leadership of Senate Republicans after making remarks praising Sen. Strom Thurmond, who ran for president in 1948 on a segregationist platform.
This time, Mr. Moran was quick to apologize while leaders of both parties were swift with criticism. But some of the groups most vocal about Mr. Lott were silent on Mr. Moran.
The Congressional Black Caucus did not issue a statement, though a spokesman said the caucus may address the issue today at its weekly meeting.
Neither Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat and a chief Lott critic, nor House Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey, publicly condemned the remarks.
Rep. Eric I. Cantor of Virginia, the Republicans' chief deputy whip, called the remarks "anti-Semitic and just plain wrong."
"I think his apologies they were filled with statements of sorrow that he made have offended people, but nowhere in those apologies have I seen that he was misquoted," said Mr. Cantor, who is Jewish.
Virginia Democratic Party officials have also called Mr. Moran's remarks wrong, including his brother, Delegate Brian Moran, who is chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the Virginia House.
"I love my brother. He was wrong. I'm sure he will take every step necessary to fix the damage that his comments caused," Mr. Moran said.
Bill Sammon and Amy Fagan contributed to this article.

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