- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Identity crisis

New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, following up on a Sunday article in which he portrayed the Republican Party as increasingly confident, wrote yesterday that the Democrats appear to be in the midst “of another of their periodic painful identity crises.”

Democrats “are composed of an awkward coalition whose clan chiefs have not yet gotten over the idea that power is the Democrats’ entitlement and who therefore have not yet learned to sacrifice for the greater good,” the reporter said in a front-page story.

“If there is one thing all kinds of Democrats agree on, it is that they need a better message. Republicans have a very simple agenda of lower taxes, less government and more defense, while Democrats have generalities like being for the little guy and attacking more than they propose.”

Part of the problem, Mr. Clymer said, is that “Democrats these days lack the killer instinct that it takes to sell blunt, demagogic messages.” And the reason for that, prominent Democratic strategist Bob Shrum suggested, is that Democrats are by nature just too kind and gentle to compete with those mean Republicans.

“It’s probably a weakness that we’re not real haters,” Mr. Shrum explained.

Sticking point

The makers of the lubricant WD-40 are objecting to some Texas lawmakers calling themselves “the WD-40s” — a name they say describes them because they’re white Democrats over 40.

The group entered the spotlight two weeks ago when they were among 51 Democrats who fled Texas to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Okla., in protest of a congressional-redistricting bill, the Associated Press notes. Republicans hold the majority in the state Legislature.

“It is extremely important to WD-40 Company that its trademark not be associated with any political party or political group,” lawyer Kathleen Pasulka said in a cease-and-desist letter to the leaders of the so-called “WD-40s.”

“Your use of ‘WD-40’ as your caucus logo or as the trademark of your group of ‘Anglo, male, Democrats over 40’ dilutes WD-40 Company’s trademark rights and in addition may lead the public to believe that WD-40 Company has given you permission to use their name,” the lawyer told Democratic Reps. Chuck Hopson and Mark Homer.

Heads up

“Head Start is one of the most revered programs in government — but not altogether deservedly so,” David Frum writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“At a cost of more than $5,000 per child, Head Start delivers scant measurable, lasting improvement in the academic performance of its beneficiaries. Republicans have reacted to this disappointing outcome by demanding that Head Start rededicate itself to academic improvement.

“Sounds reasonable? Yes — unless you are one of the Head Start employees delivering those disappointing results. They have reacted to the bad news about the program’s effectiveness by gradually shifting the program’s mission away from academics to, in effect, day care. That mission shift was quietly abetted by the Clinton administration — and will soon be noisily (and probably abusively) defended by Democrats in Congress and their allies in the press,” Mr. Frum said.

“Dems see in this fight a chance to do to [President] Bush what they did to Ronald Reagan with the ‘ketchup is a vegetable’ attack. Understand what is at stake — be prepared to argue this case — and don’t let them get away with it.”

Guest list

The White House has played host to few glittering state dinners since George W. Bush was sworn into office in January 2001, so the one last week for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in itself notable, United Press International observes in its Capital Comment column.

“Equally notable, however, was the presence of EBay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman and her husband on the guest list. A past contributor to the GOP, Whitman had just days before been named as one of three prominent Silicon Valley Republicans endorsing Democrat U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s 2004 re-election bid,” the wire service said.

“In the May 1 San Jose Mercury News, reporter Anne Marimow writes Boxer ‘unveiled an A-list of Silicon Valley leaders’ supporting Boxer, including ‘EBay president and chief executive Meg Whitman and Cisco chief executive John Chambers, who six years ago backed Boxer’s Republican opponent, Matt Fong.’

“Whether Boxer is vulnerable is beside the point as some GOP strategists, including some affiliated with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, think the Republicans have an outside chance of winning her seat in the next election. True or not, there are folks who are wondering how Whitman managed to get through the White House vetting process as the dinner’s guest list was assembled.

“Other Silicon Valley luminaries signing on to Boxer’s 2004 re-election bid, Marimow writes, are 3Com and Palm Chairman Eric A. Benhamou; venture capitalists Brook Byers and John Doerr; Macromedia co-founder Bud Colligan; Handspring chief executive Donna L. Dubinsky; Bay Partners general partner John Freidenrich; Adobe co-founder Chuck Geschke and his wife, Nan; investment bankers Bill Hambrecht, Nancy E. Pfund and John W. Thompson; Laura and Gary Lauder of Lauder Partners; Genentech Chairman Arthur D. Levinson; consulting-firm chairman Regis McKenna; and Marimba chair Kim Polese.”

Favored guest

President Bush sent a message with a seating arrangement at the state dinner, Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News & World Report.

“The picture said it all: Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine, at the state dinner last week. Not only at the dinner but placed in the best seat in the house — right next to George W. Bush. ‘It was the president’s idea,’ coos a top White House adviser. ‘He really likes Susan.’ Absent (that is, uninvited) was the senior Republican senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe. Even by Washington standards, it was a pretty good snub,” the columnist said.

“‘The president wanted to say thanks’ to Collins, says an aide, because she wound up supporting his $350 billion tax cut after holding back at the outset. The state’s other moderate, Snowe, just couldn’t get with the administration’s program.”

A crowded field

Florida Democrats are lining up to run next year for the Senate seat held by Bob Graham, Roll Call reports.

There’s just one problem: Mr. Graham, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has yet to say whether he might in the end try for another term in the Senate.

Just last week, former University of South Florida President Betty Castor announced she is laying the groundwork for a Senate campaign. Former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and Rep. Peter Deutsch are “all but in the race,” reporter Lauren W. Whittington writes.

U.S. Reps. Allen Boyd and Alcee L. Hastings also are said to be eyeing the Democratic Senate nomination.

He may be back

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he may think about running for California governor after the summer release of his new movie, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” but his family will have a say in the matter.

“When I get to that point that I say, ‘I want to run,’ I will have that conversation with my family and with my close friends,” Mr. Schwarzenegger told TV Guide for its May 31 issue. He said the advice of his wife, NBC correspondent Maria Shriver, a Kennedy cousin and a Democrat, will be especially significant.

“She has to give the green light and feel comfortable with it because she moved away from Washington to get away from all that kind of stuff,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

“I’m not thinking about it [now], but I might start thinking about it after ‘Terminator 3’ is released,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican. He says the movie is his top priority for now.

“So much has to be done for marketing, publicity, commercial tie-ins, and the merchandising,” he said.

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


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