- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2004

Abortion fight

“After long defining itself as an undisputed defender of abortion rights, the Democratic Party is suddenly locked in an internal struggle over whether to redefine its position to appeal to a broader array of voters,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society’s most emotional conflicts,” reporters Peter Wallsten and Mary Curtius said in a front-page story yesterday.

“Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party’s two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Dean, a former presidential candidate, is popular with the party’s liberal wing.”

Different issues

“Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is under no end of political pressure these days — taking heat from a few Republican senators in addition to those critics he is bound to consider as the usual suspects on both the left and the right,” John Hillen writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“I’d expect that he’d consider this a few mice in the attic compared to Nixon’s Tony Soprano-esque order to ‘dump him’ in 1973,” Mr. Hillen said.

“Different critics have distinct complaints about the secretary’s leadership, ranging from insensitivity to accountability to downright mismanagement of the post-Saddam Iraq campaign. Some strike a chord, but as a recent NRO editorial laid out, most are off the mark. On balance, you want this man in the secretary’s chair for at least another year — if not more. Nonetheless, Washington being what it is, things have a curious way of spinning out of control and you never know who will be a political casualty.

“This poses a great danger to the important wave of change and reformation that Rumsfeld is pushing in the Pentagon. Many of his critics are lumping the transformation of the military in with their criticism of Secretary Rumsfeld. The failure of the forces in Iraq to immediately tamp down the counter-insurgency has led even some of his defenders to shift blame to ‘his way of war,’ i.e. transformation of the military.

“While Rumsfeld has solidly identified himself with transformation and broken a good amount of Pentagon china in pursuit of it, this sort of analysis conflates two very separate issues and imperils the critical impetus of change for what is largely a Cold War military. It would be very unfortunate for American security if the transformation baby were to be thrown out with the Iraq strategy bathwater or even Rumsfeld himself.”

A reporter’s agenda

“Even before the doctors had completed their evacuation of the wounded to Germany in the aftermath of the attack on the Mosul dining hall, and certainly before all the next of kin of the dead had been notified, New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson had sat down at his word processor to manufacture a story on how the attack would cripple George W. Bush’s second term domestic agenda,” Hugh Hewitt writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

The New York Times “has no excuse for exploiting the loss of life in Iraq for its own political agenda even before the families of the victims have been notified. It was a manufactured story, one that Stevenson had peddled six months earlier and which had been repudiated on November 2, dusted off and sold as new ‘news’ using the hook of dead Americans,” said Mr. Hewitt, an author, radio talk show host and blogger (www.HughHewitt.com).

Mr. Hewitt said “it is increasingly obvious that the reporters of many papers, think the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, for instance, have all but openly declared for the opponents of the president. If agenda journalists want to wage war on the war, that’s their right, and an issue for the publishers and subscribers. Readers, though, have a right to have opinion pieces clearly demarcated as such, not dressed up as ‘news analysis’ and run on A-6.”

Graham’s last job

Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, spent his 408th and final workday providing Christmas presents for needy children in the Florida Keys.

Wrestling a green toy frog into a holiday package was one of his final chores as a public figure, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.

Mr. Graham, who announced his retirement from the Senate last year, has been doing “workdays” since he was in the Florida state Senate in 1974. Sometimes he did more than one a week and other times just one a month.

The jobs have included customs inspector, orange picker, circus worker, cleaning up elephant droppings, and supermarket bag boy.

On Wednesday, he was wrapping toys and helping deliver them to children in Key Largo.

“This has been a very important part of my development as a public official — learning at a very human level what the people expect,” he said.

Mr. Graham, 68, retires after two terms as Florida governor followed by three terms in the Senate.

Choosing Corzine

“Senate leaders have done some monkeying around with the makeup of the Senate Intelligence Committee, shrinking the panel by a few members and altering its responsibilities just a bit,” UPI senior political analyst Peter Roff writes.

“As part of the changes, the seat held by retiring Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., will be eliminated. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the party’s newly elected whip, will be getting off the committee and will be replaced, Senate Democrats say, by Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey.

“Corzine’s selection is an interesting one, since he has already said he will be a candidate for governor in the next election — which occurs in November 2005, mid-way through the 109th Congress. If he wins, he would have to resign his Senate seat, leaving more than one person wondering why such a prime spot on such an important committee would go to a senator who might only be sitting in it for one year,” Mr. Roff said.

Safer’s quote

“Some in the liberal media still refuse to acknowledge the profound legacy that Ronald Reagan left behind: victory in the Cold War, massive tax cuts that fueled a historic economic expansion, and a resurgence of American pride and optimism,” the Media Research Center says at www.mediaresearch.org.

“On June 14, just nine days after President Reagan’s death, CBS’ Morley Safer lashed out. ‘I don’t think history has any reason to be kind to him,’ Safer fumed on CNN’s ‘Larry King Live,’ a quote that became a runner-up for ‘Quote of the Year.’ ”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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