- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Another supporter

The nation’s most prominent liberal newspaper yesterday followed the AARP in endorsing a Medicare prescription-drug bill drafted by a House-Senate conference committee.

“Despite its shortcomings, the Medicare prescription-drug bill heading for a vote in Congress is worthy of passage,” the New York Times said in an editorial, adding: “Fears that the legislation contains seeds that will ultimately destroy the traditional Medicare program strike us as overblown.”

The newspaper said its “chief qualm” is that the legislation would exacerbate the federal budget deficit.

Blame the GOP

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week gave the state legislature 180 days to pave the way for homosexual “marriages,” but don’t blame the Democrats.

“Six of the seven justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in Massachusetts, were appointed by Republican governors.” Paul J. Martinek writes in Lawyers Weekly USA.

“However, the court is far from a conservative one. Those Republican governors were very liberal on social issues and had strong gay-rights records,” Mr. Martinek said.

Dreier stays put

Republican Rep. David Dreier opted out of a bid for California’s U.S. Senate race yesterday despite pressure from top Republican officials who viewed him as the best candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2004.

The 12-term congressman, whose chairmanship of the House Rules Committee makes him one of the most powerful lawmakers, gained prominence in California and nationally as one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most visible advisers during the recall election campaign against Democrat Gray Davis.

But in an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Mr. Dreier said he was content to remain in the House and to continue assisting Mr. Schwarzenegger on transition matters.

“I’m on cloud nine. I’m loving what I’m doing,” Mr. Dreier said. “If we were in the minority in the House, it would have been an easier decision.”

Mr. Dreier said he had been urged by people at the “absolute highest levels” to enter the race, which currently has only three little-known Republicans — Ventura County Assemblyman Tony Strickland, former Los Altos Mayor Toni Casey, and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin — vying for the party’s nomination to challenge Mrs. Boxer.

The filing deadline for the March primary is Dec. 5.

Mr. Dreier’s decision could clear the way for higher-profile Republicans to enter the race, the AP said. Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall, is still considering a run. Former Secretary of State Bill Jones says he is “seriously considering” getting into the race and will announce a decision very soon.

Cash vs. cash

One of President Bush’s attorneys during the 2000 Florida recount is creating a group to spend millions advocating Mr. Bush’s re-election, hoping to counter efforts by billionaire George Soros and others to help Democrats capture the White House.

Lawyer George Terwilliger and Republican political consultants Frank Donatelli and Craig Shirley are asking the Federal Election Commission for advice on whether their plan is legal under the new campaign-finance law, according to a copy of the letter.

The law bars the use of so-called “soft money” — corporate, union and unlimited contributions — in connection with federal elections. National party committees and federal candidates are banned from collecting soft money for any purpose.

Outside groups can still take the big checks, however.

Several Democratic-leaning groups have sprung up in the months since the law took effect last November, including many that say they plan to raise tens of millions of dollars for voter registration and other activities aimed at defeating Mr. Bush next year.

Mr. Terwilliger, Mr. Donatelli and Mr. Shirley are starting a group called “Americans for a Better Country” to raise both soft money and limited “hard money” contributions for various activities, aiming to match the Democratic-leaning groups dollar for dollar, the Associated Press reports.

Defining ‘moderate’

“The ‘moderate’ Dick Gephardt? In the midst of a story Tuesday night on the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that equality under the law compels a right to gay marriage, NBC’s Jim Avila tagged Gephardt, a Democratic presidential candidate and former House minority leader, as a ‘moderate,’” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Avila maintained that while Bush backers ‘are virtually united in their opposition’ to gay marriage, Democrats ‘are split,’ with ‘liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage’ and ‘moderates, like Richard Gephardt, who stopped short of backing gay marriage,’ but still back civil unions.

“But in 2002, Gephardt earned higher liberal approval (90 percent) than did Kucinich (80 percent) from Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), who provide the benchmark liberal ratings for votes cast by congressmen and senators. And, in ADA’s lifetime ratings, Kucinich barely exceeds Gephardt — 90 percent to 83 percent.

“So, being 83 or 90 percent liberal makes you a ‘moderate’ to NBC News.”

Targeting the GOP

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed three federal lawsuits yesterday claiming the city’s police tactics during protests are unconstitutional and will hinder the right to demonstrate during next year’s Republican National Convention.

The NYCLU based the lawsuits on a Feb. 15 antiwar rally that drew tens of thousands of people. The group says police blocked demonstrators’ access to the protest in some areas and controlled crowds with unnecessary force.

During that rally, which stretched for 20 blocks along First Avenue, police cordoned off side streets, and many protesters complained that officers in riot gear and on horseback prevented them from reaching the rally.

The NYCLU sued on behalf of three demonstrators, including a 60-year-old diabetic woman who uses a wheelchair, who say police unfairly confined them, the Associated Press reports.

Embracing Dean

Rep. David Wu, Oregon Democrat, may have landed himself a prime speaking role at the Democratic National Convention for endorsing Howard Dean’s presidential bid.

Mr. Wu introduced the front-running Mr. Dean at the Asian American Action Fund on Monday with a long-winded speech, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Dean, in a good-natured jab, told the crowd, “He’ll be getting a 3 a.m. slot at the convention. You can go as long as you want — 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.”

Turning back to the crowd, Mr. Dean joked, “unless he endorses me at the end of this program.”

“In that event, he can have anything he wants.”

Sure enough, when Mr. Dean finished his speech, Mr. Wu praised the former Vermont governor for being the only presidential candidate to attend the forum and for visiting Oregon.

“I haven’t endorsed anybody yet until right now,” Mr. Wu said as the crowd roared and the two men embraced.

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

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