- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

The new ‘center’

“As of Tuesday’s reordering in California, I think the definition of political ‘moderate’ has shifted seismically to the right,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Back in Washington, where nothing much ever changes, pundits still cite Nelson Rockefeller (a name with no meaning to most voters now) as the quintessential Republican ‘moderate.’ Or they admire current GOP senators like Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee and George Voinovich. On the core governing issue of the state’s proper role in economic and political life, Arnold Schwarzenegger is well to the right of these people, no matter what he thinks about abortion, gay civil unions, gun control or medical marijuana,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Say a Democrat wants to spend $4 billion; the GOP ‘moderate’ will counter with $3.5 billion — and then they’ll compromise at $3.95 billion. Arnold Schwarzenegger ran against this theory of a moderate Republicanism that is complicit in a long liberal legacy of tax, spend and tax again. …

“If after this [past] week the definition of a GOP moderate now sits halfway between the center and what the avowedly conservative Tom McClintock represents, then the ‘center’ in American politics is migrating steadily to the right in a measurable and significant way.

“And of course by definition this would move the Democratic base even further leftward from the mainstream. It’s too early to know how permanent California’s shifts are, but I suspect that a lot of voters who participated in or watched this election for the first time feel comfortable in this new political place — where Arnold is.”

Star search

With the recall election barely behind them, some California Democrats are already surveying the field for candidates strong enough to challenge Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

“Now that the governor is a Republican, it frees up every Democratic statewide officeholder to look at the 2006 race,” said California Republican strategist Dan Schnur.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Treasurer Phil Angelides are the two leading contenders. Both of them, analysts say, would be stronger candidates than Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who lost overwhelmingly last week to Mr. Schwarzenegger.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who refused pleas from Democratic colleagues to become the Democratic alternative to Mr. Schwarzenegger, also has been named as a possibility.

“She’d instantly be the Democratic front-runner,” Mr. Schnur said. But, he and others noted, the 70-year-old Mrs. Feinstein has long professed being content as California’s senior senator, and few believe she has the stomach for a messy statewide primary.

Other names that have surfaced include Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi — who dropped out of the recall race this year, and who twice ran for governor in the past — and state Controller Steve Westley.

Gephardt and Hoffa

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat and White House aspirant, rallied with Teamsters President James P. Hoffa in Iowa on Saturday.

Mr. Hoffa said he met Saturday with shop stewards from around the state.

“We put a game plan into effect,” Mr. Hoffa said. “We’re going to go city by city, local by local so every member of the Teamsters is on board.”

Mr. Hoffa said Mr. Gephardt has spent a quarter-century advocating labor causes in Washington.

“We have never been so committed to a candidate for president,” Mr. Hoffa said.

Teamsters political coordinators from around the country are in Iowa to bolster Mr. Gephardt’s effort, the Associated Press reports.

“I feel optimistic that we can win here,” Mr. Gephardt said. “I feel optimistic that we can do what we’re trying to do here. The momentum is building.”

Tag team

The Democratic presidential campaign of former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont is lashing out at what it calls the “Gephardt-Kerry Washington tag team.”

An article on the New York Times Web site and on the newspaper’s front page yesterday suggested an alliance of sorts against Mr. Dean between two other White House hopefuls, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

The two men appeared friendly at the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night in Phoenix. Aides to Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gephardt say there is no conspiracy, the Times reported, but they acknowledged that their staffs are sharing information on Mr. Dean.

Mr. Dean’s campaign said the alliance showed Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gephardt are desperate, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s no secret that campaigns talk to each other, but these coordinated attacks from Washington insiders cross the line,” said Tricia Enright, Mr. Dean’s communications director.

Team Tammy

Renegade feminist Tammy Bruce has been named to California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s transition team.

An author and columnist, Ms. Bruce is the former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women.

She split with national feminist leaders in 1999 after she criticized O.J. Simpson as a wife-beater and organized demonstrations against the former football star who was found responsible in civil court for the stabbing deaths of Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Ms. Bruce, a lesbian, defended “Dr. Laura” radio host Laura Schlessinger against accusations of homophobia. She has criticized political correctness in two books, “The New Thought Police” and “The Death of Right and Wrong.”

“I was thrilled when I was asked to take part in what is clearly one of the most important and historic political transitions not just for California, but for the nation,” Ms. Bruce said of the Schwarzenegger appointment.

The Los Angeles native added: “I’m honored to be able to play a small part in making California, once again, the greatest state of the greatest nation on Earth.”

Apology demanded

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential candidate, said yesterday that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should apologize for misleading the American people about the war in Iraq and called the international fighting force there a “fraud.”

Mr. Kerry criticized the president and vice president for saying Iraq was “on the road” to building nuclear weapons, which the senator said has been proven untrue, Reuters news agency reports.

“I’m asserting very clearly that they misled America,” Mr. Kerry said on ABC’s “This Week” news program. “I think the president and Vice President Cheney should be apologizing to America.”

The senator said the shortage of international troops fighting in Iraq created a “fraudulent coalition, and I use the word fraud,” because the forces are mainly from the United States and Britain, with too little participation from other countries.

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

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