- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Barney vs. Strom

A group of 11 congressmen yesterday asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to drop federal charges filed against a South Carolina war protester.

Activist Brett Bursey, 57, was arrested in Columbia in October for carrying a sign that read “No War for Oil” in a crowd of well-wishers who had gathered to welcome President Bush.

According to local press reports, Mr. Bursey was asked to give up his sign or go to the designated protest site in a less-visible area of the airport.

Mr. Bursey was arrested by local police and originally charged with trespassing. Those charges were dropped, but U.S. Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. picked up the mantle and charged Mr. Bursey with disregarding perimeters set up by Secret Service for presidential visits.

“There is no plausible argument that can be made that Mr. Bursey was threatening the president by holding a sign which the president found politically offensive,” wrote Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, and 10 other House members in their letter to Mr. Ashcroft. “It was not his presence in the area, but his presence holding a sign that was expressing a political viewpoint critical of the president that caused his arrest.”

Boxer challenger?

“U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin is now ‘former U.S. treasurer’ and heading back to California to launch a campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer,” the anonymous Prowler writes at www.spectator.org.

“Marin has met several times with White House political guru Karl Rove, who while not promising to clear the field for her, indicated his happiness that she was entering the race,” the columnist said.

“Marin would seem positioned to at least give the Republicans something they haven’t had in the Golden State for years: an attractive, Hispanic candidate capable of running statewide. ‘At the least, her candidacy is going to help President Bush in the long term out there,’ says a state Republican Party operative in Sacramento. ‘At most, we’re looking at a candidate Barbara Boxer probably prefers to not run against.’

“Marin is the classic Bush/Rove candidate: a moderate on social issues, such as abortion, while remaining loyal and true to the Bush economic and international agenda. That strategy worked wonders in states like Minnesota and Missouri last year in helping the GOP retake majority control of the Senate.

“Marin was expected to make no immediate formal announcement about her plans, but fund-raisers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco were already being planned at this writing.”

A risky scheme

Democrats are taking a gamble by relentlessly emphasizing the negative, Richard Benedetto writes at www.usatoday.com.

“It should be crystal clear by now that Democrats are basing their entire campaign for winning back the White House on two hopes:

• “That the economy stays in the doldrums.

• “That the war on terrorism goes badly.

“In either case, the result would not be good for the American people. So in other words, the Democrats’ whole rationale for unseating President Bush is shaping up as a negative message:

“See how miserable this guy has made your life? Get rid of him.

“It could work if everything Bush touches turns out to be a flop. But it could fail if things go reasonably well and a majority of voters see no reason to change leaders,” the columnist said.

“To borrow a favorite Democratic phrase, it’s a risky scheme. Yet, they show no sign of straying from the playbook.”

Donahue’s speech

The chancellor of North Carolina State University criticized former talk-show host Phil Donahue for his graduation address about searching for liberals.

Several students and audience members walked out, and Mr. Donahue was heckled during the May 17 talk.

“I share your disappointment in Phil Donahue’s address to our graduates,” Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said in response to people who wrote her to criticize the speech.

“Invited by our chair of the faculty to provide an inspirational message to our graduates, Mr. Donahue chose instead to use our ceremonies as a platform for a speech better suited for a political audience,” she said.

The chancellor served as a science adviser to President Bush when he was the governor of Texas and she was vice president for research at the University of Texas. She was appointed by Mr. Bush in 2001 to serve on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

The microbiology professor who chairs N.C. State’s faculty Senate and helped bring Mr. Donahue to campus also has been criticized. Professor Philip Carter and Mr. Donahue are graduates of the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Carter said he was sorry that some family members were disappointed, but said the school might have benefited from hearing Mr. Donahue’s views, the Associated Press reports.

“I think we took a big step toward becoming a university on Saturday,” he said. “People say we’re a conservative university. Well, that’s not what the university is about.”

Conspiracy fever

“Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, chasing after erstwhile Clinton Treasury man Roger Altman, jumps aboard the latest liberal conspiracy bandwagon,” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Krugman thinks it’s ‘obvious’ that President Bush has been cutting taxes because he is ‘deliberately setting the country up for a fiscal crisis in which popular social programs could be sharply cut.’ Altman calls it Bush’s ‘underlying “starve the government” ideology.’

“Well, heck. We’re all in favor of cutting spending on social programs, especially popular ones (shared sacrifice and all that), but we’d have more faith that this is what Republicans plan to do if government spending weren’t increasing while they control the White House and both houses of Congress,” Mr. Taranto said.

“This ‘starve the government’ stuff seems to be the latest in a series of Democratic delusions: the ‘stolen election,’ the ‘neocon conspiracy,’ ‘unilateral war in Iraq,’ ‘questioning John Kerry’s patriotism,’ etc. The partisan left puts these crazy ideas forward with such regularity and intensity that it almost seems to arise from a medical condition of some sort.”

But is he Sid?

Sidney Blumenthal has been known to spin a conspiracy theory or two — going back to the 1970s when he edited a book on theories about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and others.

But Mr. Blumenthal, now promoting his new book, “The Clinton Wars,” denies one current conspiracy theory. He says he is not Atrios, the pseudonymous — and notorious — left-wing blogger (www.atrios.blogspot.com).

Mr. Blumenthal was interviewed by Web site Liberal Oasis (www.liberaloasis.com), which concluded its interview by asking: “Finally, are you Atrios?”

“No. But I do read Atrios, I read a lot of blogs. But I’m not Atrios,” Mr. Blumenthal answered. Also, for good measure, Mr. Blumenthal denied that he is Washington Monthly writer Josh Marshall.

Liberal billionaire

Warren Buffet is a billionaire the media like — because he’s against tax cuts, the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker observes.

“Friday morning on ‘Today,’ NBC’s Katie Couric quoted favorably from Warren Buffett, identifying him as a nonpartisan critic, and two nights before that, ABC’s Ted Koppel turned over the entire ‘Nightline’ to a conversation with Buffet, which Koppel set up by noting that, though the House and Senate wished to pass the tax cut before Memorial Day, ‘they haven’t passed it yet. And before they do, we thought you might like to hear from the man they call the “sage of Omaha.”’

“Neither Couric nor Koppel noted that Buffett has been a regular donor to liberal Democrats.” Mr. Baker said at www.mediaresearch.org.

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

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