- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

Axis of isolation

He’s not proud of today’s Democratic Party — or so one gathers from the title of Georgia Sen. Zell Miller’s new book, “A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat.”

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As Mr. Miller puts it, “No Democrat wants to tell the leaders of their party that they have halitosis.”

But he does, fingering the breath and “axis” of four party leaders — Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle — for having “created an atmosphere so bad that it is almost impossible for Democrats to be heard.”

He’s not any prouder of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, particularly their campaign rhetoric of late against the U.S. intervention in Iraq.

“My concern is that … they are exacerbating the difficulties of a nation at war,” says Mr. Miller, calling Howard Dean the worst offender of all who should take some “calm-me-down pills.”

“Some of the liberal media excuse these actions by calling them ‘populism.’ Populism, my butt! It’s demagogy, pure and simple,” the Democrat scolds. “They should stop this, or at least modify it into a more civil discourse.”

If the candidates don’t — if they continue to “listen to the politically tone-deaf special interest brokers who are totally ignorant of the real-world political landscape” — then Mr. Miller predicts the “week after the election in November 2004, there’s going to be a lot of empty-feeling Democrats in their sackloth and ashes.”

As for President Bush’s style of governing?

“I like the fact that the Bush White House is not timid about making a decision and does not suffer from ‘analysis paralysis,’ the malady that is common to those learned people who know so much and can see all sides,” says the senator, adding that despite his failures, Mr. Clinton “was the exception.”

“I care not to get into what happened that second term with Monica and the lies and the meaning of ‘is’ and the impeachment and the pardons,” he says. “But for a few brief moments, before all the stuff hit the fan, the Democratic Party had a candidate I could identify with and was willing to fight for.”

There are lighter sides to this critical book, such as when Mr. Miller and Mr. Clinton were governors of their respective states and Mr. Clinton spent the night at the Georgia governor’s mansion. The next morning, a Georgia state trooper who had brought Mr. Clinton home the night before asked Mr. Miller, “Governor, is that man going to run for president?”

“I said I thought so,” Mr. Miller recalls. “He replied, ‘Well, I am going to vote for him, I’ll tell you that. Last night he had me go by the drive-thru window at McDonald’s and he got two Big Macs and ate them both [in less than 5 minutes] before we got back here. Anyone who can eat like that I’m going to vote for.”

Big tent

Though we don’t want to alienate our core,

We are anxious to add even more;

So, to make greater strides,

We’ll appeal to both sides

And oppose all the things that we’re for.

F.R. Duplantier

Not just Florida

Wait a second, Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican, didn’t you co-sponsor the Syria Accountability Act?

If so, why did you vote against the resolution last week?

“If the voting machine was working properly, it would have recorded my vote in favor of H.R. 1828, the Syria Accountability Act,” Mrs. Musgrave explains.

Bronx bomber

Rep. Peter Deutsch is awfully proud of his Florida Marlins, so much so that he has stepped onto the floor of the House to observe that at the beginning of the 2003 baseball season his team was not expected to be a factor in the postseason, let alone batting against the New York Yankees in the World Series.

“Underestimated, overlooked and ignored, the Marlins proceeded through the dog days of summer and down the stretch with courage and grit, and finishing the season with the best record in Major League Baseball since May,” boasts the Florida Democrat, who Yankees fans might be interested in knowing was born in the Bronx.

• John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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