- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Andy’s observations

Andrew Cuomo, who served as housing and urban development secretary in the Clinton administration, says his fellow Democrats “appear lost in time.”

Writing in a new book, the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo also says that Democrats appear “bloodless, soulless and clueless.” He praises President Bush “for recognizing the challenge of 9/11 and rising to it.”

“Cuomo’s startling observations — which often read like a Republican attack on the Democratic Party — appear in ‘Crossroads: The Future of American Politics,’ a just-published Random House book for which the former federal housing secretary and unsuccessful gubernatorial hopeful served as editor,” Fredric U. Dicker reports in the New York Post.

Mr. Cuomo said of his own party: “We handled 9/11 like it was a debate over a highway bill instead of a matter of people’s lives.”

Liberty charge

A former Navy attorney who had helped lead the military probe of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 U.S. servicemen says President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara ordered the Navy to conclude that the incident was an accident.

In a signed affidavit released at a Capitol Hill news conference yesterday, the Associated Press reports, retired Capt. Ward Boston said the two men told those leading the inquiry to “conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Capt. Boston was senior legal counsel to the Navy’s original 1967 review of the attack. He said in the sworn statement that he had stayed silent for years because as a military man, “when orders come … I follow them.”

The Liberty was an electronic intelligence-gathering ship that had come under fire from Israeli ships and planes in international waters off Egypt’s coast at the start of the Israeli-Arab Six-Day War.

Dean’s deal

“A peculiar deal negotiated with Vermont’s state archivist by Gov. Howard Dean arose from his concern about a ‘Willie Horton’ jumping out of his files,” Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“That’s the news from newly released correspondence between the archivist, Gregory Sanford, and Gov. Dean’s office that makes direct reference to the governor’s concern for ‘the “Willie Horton” example.’ The back-and-forth also makes it abundantly clear that his presidential ambitions were the true reason Dr. Dean sought a 10-year seal on the records (typical for a Vermont governor is six years).

“Opposition researchers have been frustrated by the discovery that more than half his gubernatorial papers have been placed off-limits. Now we know why,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“Here’s a guess: Mr. Dean’s Willie Horton is actually civil unions. He’s concerned about correspondence related to his signing of Vermont’s first-in-the-nation statute that authorized same-sex legal unions. He brags about endorsing the bill now, but he wasn’t so keen at the time, and he may worry that some of his back-and-forth with constituents, if published, would embarrass him in front of his superliberal primary constituency.”

Candor about guns

“In a marvelous moment of candor, a federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) committee has reported that it cannot find any evidence that gun-control laws reduce violent crime,” Dr. Timothy Wheeler writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“American gun owners spent most of the 1990s telling the CDC that gun control is ineffective at best and harmful at worst. So it’s gratifying that the lesson is finally sinking in,” said Dr. Wheeler, who is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Claremont Institute.

“A task force convened by the CDC issued its report after two years of poring over 51 scientific studies of gun laws. The group considered only research papers that met strict criteria for scientific soundness. The CDC distances itself with a disclaimer, but it’s pretty clear that it supports the task force’s conclusions. The report contains no dissenting position or minority view from CDC managers.”

Biden’s lament

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday that none of the Democratic presidential candidates has expressed a coherent foreign policy.

Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who once flirted with the idea of seeking the party’s nomination, said the candidates have to “demonstrate that they have a foreign policy, a security policy, that is coherent and is grown-up, that we can handle the bad things out there in the world.”

“If it’s only ‘I voted to go in [to Iraq]’ or ‘I thought we should’ve gone in, but now we shouldn’t spend any money there,’ that is not a particularly coherent policy. And I think it will maybe work well in the primary, but I don’t think it works very well in the general [election],” Mr. Biden told the Associated Press.

Two Democratic senators in the race, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, had voted for the resolution last year authorizing the Iraq war, but opposed the $87 billion Iraq-Afghanistan spending package approved by the House and Senate last week.

Clark’s big idea

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark outlined an economic plan yesterday that he said would create jobs and balance the budget by raising taxes on the wealthy.

The retired Army general outlined only principles of his economic policy and promised more specifics as the campaign unfolded, Reuters news agency reports. But he said he could achieve federal budget savings of $2.35 trillion within 10 years, about half of which would come by repealing tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

Mr. Clark proposed scrapping tax cuts for families earning more than $200,000 a year, a move that he said would save $1.1 trillion from 2006 to 2015.

“George W. Bush ran on the free lunch. The free lunch, it turns out, was a bunch of baloney,” Mr. Clark told about 200 students and Democratic Party activists at the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus.

Schumer’s donors

Donations from 23 executives of mortgage buyer Fannie Mae helped New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer raise more campaign funds than any of his colleagues in the past quarter, Bloomberg News reports, citing disclosure forms.

Mr. Schumer raised $1.7 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 and has $18 million cash on hand for his 2004 re-election campaign, forms filed with the Federal Election Commission show.

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Mr. Schumer is helping to write legislation that affects Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage buyer, and rival Freddie Mac. A bill designed to strengthen the government-chartered companies’ regulation by shifting their oversight from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Treasury Department is stalled in Congress.

Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines and Chief Financial Officer J. Timothy Howard, with 21 colleagues, gave a combined $13,750 to Mr. Schumer from July through the past month. Mr. Raines gave $1,000 to Mr. Schumer on July 18, the day after the banking committee held hearings on the company’s regulation, FEC records show.

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

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