- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

Bad timingThe invitation reads: “Please join Senator Blanche Lincoln for a rockin’ night at the Dixie Chicks concert, Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 7:30 p.m., MCI Center [Washington, D.C.]. PAC $2,500. Individual $1,000. Space is limited. Please make checks payable to: Friends of Blanche Lincoln.”Interested parties, including the Democrat who forwarded his invitation, are supposed to RSVP to Amelia Andrews at the Capitol Hill office of Friends of Blanche Lincoln, but she refused to tell us yesterday whether the Dixie Chicks fund-raiser was still even scheduled.”I’m not commenting,” she said, referring us instead to the Arkansas Democrat, who faces re-election in 2004.”Senator Lincoln doesn’t agree with what Natalie Maines said, but she does support her right of free speech and felt it hypocritical if she had to cancel the event based on her remarks,” Mrs. Lincoln’s press secretary, Drew Goesl, told Inside the Beltway yesterday.Mr. Goesl stressed that the fund-raiser featuring the now-controversial band was set four days before Miss Maines, on the eve of U.S. troops entering Iraq, told a London audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”The band later apologized to angry country music fans and other Americans.In a separate statement, Miss Maines said, “My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view.”ShowmanshipIt’s not as splashy as landing atop an aircraft carrier, but Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman will fly in his mother, Marcia Lieberman, to be with him in Des Moines, Iowa, for Mother’s Day.”The senator wanted to spend Mother’s Day with her, so she’s flying in that day,” a Lieberman spokeswoman tells us.The Connecticut lawmaker will campaign in Iowa all day Sunday, visiting Des Moines and Ames, but will take time out to share a Mother’s Day lunch with Mrs. Lieberman, who lives in Connecticut.Bush vs. genericSen. Joe Lieberman might want to fly his mother to New Hampshire, where he is running far behind Sen. John Kerry and former Gov. Howard Dean in the latest Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication poll on the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.The Franklin Pierce College survey of 600 likely voters finds Mr. Kerry and Mr. Dean locked in a dead heat with 23 percent each, followed by Mr. Lieberman’s 9 percent and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt’s 8 percent. All other candidates scored 2 percent or below — except for Al Sharpton, who gets a goose egg.Interestingly enough, in a hypothetical, head-to-head November 2004 general election matchup, President Bush ends up “tied” with an unnamed, or so-called “generic” Democratic nominee. Is this good or bad for Mr. Bush?”Generic party nominees provide the hardest test of an incumbent’s support,” says Fitzwater Center director Rich Killion, “for it provides voters with their own option of defining the positive and negative characteristics of an unnamed nominee.”Normally, voters do so without affixing any negative characteristics to their generic candidate,” he points out. “Under these terms, the president’s numbers are somewhat impressive.”Tribeca-boundFormer Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will give a boost to the anti-Castro crowd this evening when she hosts a film benefit and special screening of “Dissident: Osvaldo Paya and the Varela Project.”Mrs. Albright is chairman of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs, which produced and filmed the documentary in the summer of 2002 in Havana. The documentary examines the life of the Cuban dissident and his Varela Project, a grass-roots, pro-democracy movement struggling peacefully to advance fundamental civil and political rights in Cuba.Mr. Paya gained international attention last year when he collected more than 10,000 signatures in favor of sweeping democratic reforms, through legal means provided for in the Cuban Constitution, and presented them to the country’s rubber-stamp legislature.”The government met his peaceful movement with threats, harassment and the arrest of Paya’s key organizers,” the NDI notes. “On March 18, 2003, Cuban authorities conducted the biggest crackdown of dissidents in recent years, arresting over 80 men and women, more than half of whom are supporters of the Varela Project.” The Fidel Castro regime arrested Mr. Paya in the past, but he was not a victim of the latest crackdown.Several people who appear in the documentary were sentenced last month to 25 years in prison, with no appeal permitted.Mrs. Albright is holding her special screening at the Tribeca Grill in New York City. And yes, we’re told, the film will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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