- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2003

Santorum’s support

Recent remarks by Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, about homosexuality apparently have not cost him political support in his home state, an independent poll released yesterday suggests.

Mr. Santorum received a 55 percent approval rating among Pennsylvania voters this month, the same as he had in April, before his remarks on privacy and a Texas sodomy case made national news, according to the statewide survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“The folks back home in Pennsylvania are largely unconcerned about Senator Santorum’s remarks about homosexual activity,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Connecticut-based institute.

Asked in the poll whether they believe homosexual behavior is morally acceptable, 58 percent of the respondents said it is wrong and 27 percent said it is acceptable. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Mr. Santorum drew criticism from homosexual-rights groups and Democratic presidential candidates for saying: “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery,” he said.

Fifty-five percent said his comments would not affect their decisions on whether to vote for him.

The Dowd scandal

“An outrageous new falsehood is circulating about President Bush,” Brendan Nyhan writes at www.spinsanity.org.

“Last week, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd misrepresented a Bush statement to imply that he said the al Qaeda terrorist network is ‘not a problem anymore,’ and the distorted quotation has since been repeated by MSNBC ‘Buchanan and Press’ co-host Bill Press, CNN’s Miles O’Brien and others, including numerous foreign press outlets,” Mr. Nyhan said. “At a time when the New York Times is under fire for its conduct in the Jayson Blair scandal, Dowd’s creation of an exploding media myth is cause for serious concern.”

What Mr. Bush said, in a speech in Arkansas early this month, was that “right now, about half of all the top al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they’re not a problem anymore.”

Mr. Nyhan pointed out, and noted that others had done the same, that “Mr. Bush was obviously saying that the al Qaeda operatives who ‘are either jailed or dead’ are ‘not a problem anymore,’ not that al Qaeda itself is ‘not a problem.’”

‘Dumb and dumber’

“The terror alert is up and so is the angst among Democratic 2004 wannabes because they know it’s politically dumb and dumber to try to blame terror jitters on President Bush — but they just can’t help themselves,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“So there was Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, grumping that Bush’s comments about putting al Qaeda on the run ‘really exceeded reality’ because ‘we need to be stronger and smarter and tougher.’

“The problem is clear in the latest CBS/New York Times poll where 86 percent agree Bush has made progress against terrorism and when asked which party they’d trust on terrorism: 58 percent say Republicans and 18 Democrats.

“What’s driving Kerry could be the fact that he’s slid from one of the front-runners back into the Dem nine-pack over the past few months thanks to hedging on Iraq, losing the fund-raising battle by a hair, a dismal first debate, lack of a clear message, and boasting of his Vietnam war medals a bit too often,” Miss Orin said.

“In fact, a poll [Wednesday] in Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts found Bush now leads him there by 6 points. By contrast he led Bush by 16 points back in January, pre-Iraq, according to another poll by the same group, Opinion Dynamics.”

The tax-cut deal

“It’s possible to quibble with the tax-cut deal that the House and Senate have reached, or with the White House strategy that got us to this point,” Ramesh Ponnuru writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Should the president have tried to cut a deal two months ago for more than $350 billion? Couldn’t child tax credits and marriage-penalty relief have been kept out of the bill, and then passed separately later? But these questions are secondary to the magnitude of Bush’s achievement. In the 15 years before Bush took office, tax rates did not go down once. Since he’s taken office, he’s managed to bring them down twice,” Mr. Ponnuru said.

“Those of us who had serious reservations about the structure of Bush’s first tax cut — especially the long phase-in — should acknowledge that it made political victories for tax-cutters possible. The delay in implementing the tax cut tempted the Democrats to come out for repealing much of it, and the White House was brilliant in depicting this move on their part as a tax increase. That debate contributed to Democratic defeats last year, and continues to contribute to Democratic division on domestic policy.

“The ‘sunset’ provisions now in the tax code will also work to Republicans’ benefit. Dividend taxes are scheduled to go back up in a few years, and income-tax rates to go up a few years after that. If Democrats want to let those taxes revert to higher levels, Republicans will be able to be the party that wants to keep taxes down — and Republicans have always had a bigger advantage on keeping taxes down than on cutting them.”

Endangered species

“When more than 50 Democratic members of the Texas state House fled the state last week under cover of darkness in order to deprive Republicans of the quorum they needed to redraw the state’s congressional districts, they were called the ‘Killer D’s‘ or the ‘Chicken D’s,’ depending on one’s partisan leanings,” John Fund writes at the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com.

“Critics talked about printing up wanted posters or milk cartons with their pictures, while supporters cheered their success while fretting that the next time Republicans put their map to a vote, the public might be less tolerant of freezing all legislative business,” Mr. Fund said.

“Looking at pictures of the ‘gang that wouldn’t vote’ made one thing clear: White Democrats are an endangered species in Texas politics, as indeed they are throughout the South. Yet while many of the legislators who fled to Oklahoma were nonwhite, other minority members stayed behind. They have a different perspective and might have gone along with the GOP gerrymander because it created more minority districts at the expense of white Democrats. The plan could not have passed the Texas Senate, where it needed two-thirds approval, without the votes of Democrats. …

“White Democrats dominated Texas politics for decades, creating legendary leaders such as Sam Rayburn, John Connally and Lyndon Johnson. Only 20 years ago, white Democrats had 21 of the 31 state Senate seats and 85 of the 150 House seats. Today, only three of the 12 Senate Democrats and 19 of the 62 House Democrats are white. There are now no white female Democrats in either house of the Legislature for the first time since 1941.”

Iraqi ‘gun grab’

Iraq doesn’t have a Second Amendment — or even a constitution — but the Libertarian Party is defending the right of Iraqis to keep and bear arms.

“An allied military plan to confiscate weapons in Iraq may destabilize the nation further by giving the green light to street thugs and Ba’ath Party loyalists who are terrorizing innocent civilians,” the Libertarian Party’s communications director, George Getz, said in a press statement.

Party Chairman Geoffrey Neale said: “Imposing this gun grab is like declaring war on Iraq for a second time. How many innocent men, women and children will be kidnapped, robbed or murdered because their U.S. ‘protectors’ turned self-defense into a crime?”

Mr. Neale added: “Let’s not punish innocent men, women and children for the U.S. military’s inability to secure the peace. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if Iraqis who survived the horrors of Saddam Hussein became casualties of the U.S. government’s gun grab?”

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

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