- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

Kerry’s boo-booDemocratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry has backed off a repeated claim that his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate highlighted his support for the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.”As he has campaigned for the presidency, the Massachusetts Democrat has on numerous occasions stated that his maiden speech as a senator was about abortion rights,” the Boston Globe reports.”Kerry did so last month before a group of women in Des Moines [Iowa], as he pledged to nominate only supporters of abortion rights to the Supreme Court,” reporter Glen Johnson writes.”But the Congressional Record shows that Kerry’s first speech in the Senate, on March 19, 1985, was made in opposition to President Reagan’s push to build 21 MX missiles.”A States News Service report at the time said that Kerry’s planned remarks were reduced to a relatively brief four minutes, because more senior colleagues wanted to speak and floor debate had been limited to 10 hours.”In an interview with the Globe Tuesday, Kerry sought to emphasize the importance he places on abortion rights by declaring that it was the subject of his first floor speech in the Senate.”When a Globe reporter told him that the States News account from 1985 raised questions about the accuracy of his statement, Kerry paused and said he may have been misled by a former staff member. He also pledged that if he were mistaken, he would never make the comment again.”No spy hearingsThe chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has rejected a request for public hearings to assess the damage to the nation’s counterintelligence network in the wake of the arrests in Los Angeles of a former FBI agent and his girlfriend, a suspected Chinese spy.Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said in a letter delivered Wednesday to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the panel’s ranking Democrat, and Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, that the committee was “too busy” to hold hearings in the spy case.The three senators had asked Mr. Hatch for the hearings “as soon as possible” to discuss national security concerns in the arrests of former FBI Agent James J. Smith, who worked in Chinese counterintelligence, and Katrina Leung, a longtime FBI informant who has been accused of being a double agent.”Security lapses have been a chronic problem for the FBI,” Mr. Leahy said in response to the Hatch decision. “It’s difficult for me to understand why we can’t find time to come to grips with security issues that are jeopardizing our security and hampering our premier domestic intelligence and law-enforcement agency.”We don’t have many duties that are more important than that.” Nervous TexansSome Democratic congressmen from Texas are growing nervous as the Republican-dominated state Legislature considers a redistricting plan.”Rep. Martin Frost and other Lone Star State Democrats are arguing that under the most likely scenarios — pushed by Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican — the state could lose five senior House Democrats, four of whom are ranking members on prominent committees,” Roll Call reports.Said Mr. Frost: “DeLay is trying to eliminate all the Democrats from the Texas delegation who are in leadership positions. He’s trying to eliminate all the ranking members from Texas.”Mr. Frost, ranking member on the Rules Committee, said he might be one of those endangered Democrats.Reporter Erin P. Billings said other senior Democrats potentially at risk are Charles W. Stenholm, ranking member on Agriculture; Chet Edwards, ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee on military construction; Jim Turner, ranking member on Homeland Security; and Max Sandlin, a chief deputy whip.The current districts were drawn up by a federal court after the Legislature deadlocked in 2001, leaving the Democrats with 17-15 advantage in the delegation.Blair praises BushBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair says President Bush’s lightweight image among some Europeans is “complete bull.”In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Mr. Blair said such a view was not only “complete bull,” but also “total nonsense.”He added in the interview with contributing editor David Margolick, “I was about to say, ‘He’s not someone who will philosophize,’ but actually that’s not true, because he does. But ‘directness’ is the best way I can describe it. He has a very, very direct way of stating exactly what he feels about a situation.”Mr. Blair added: “The good thing about [Mr. Bush] is that once he does really think that an issue has to be tackled he has big reserves of courage for doing it, and he won’t really be diverted.”“I trust him, and that is extremely important at our level of politics,” Mr. Blair said.As for being friends with both Mr. Bush and his predecessor, Bill Clinton, the prime minister said: “They’re very different people, but so what? We all have different friends.”Changed landscape“Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr’s sudden withdrawal from the race in Georgia’s open 6th Congressional District appears to have changed the landscape quite significantly,” United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.”On Monday, [state] Senate Majority Leader Tom Price entered the race. His move comes counter to the expectations of those who believed Price did not want to relinquish his post as Senate point man for GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue. In fact, Price says, he will likely step down from the post before the opening of the 2004 legislative session,” the wire service said.”Price joins state Sen. Rob Lamutt and John McCallum, a former staffer for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in the race for the Republican nomination. Others who are said to be considering a bid are state Rep. Roger Hines and state Sen. Chuck Clay.”Just asking“Why didn’t Tim Robbins exercise his right of free speech to defend Senator Rick Santorum from the arrows and insults directed at him after he suggested that gay sex should not be protected by the Constitution?” Joel Engel asks at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).”Doesn’t Robbins believe that the calls for the senator’s resignation are akin to McCarthyism, or that the chorus of boos will have a chilling effect on free expression? And why did Robbins’ ‘wife,’ Susan Sarandon, not so long ago lead the calls for a boycott of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s television show, when, as her entire family have been recently teaching us, free speech should come free of criticism and repercussions?”

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