- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

Liberal nostalgia

“Once upon a time, liberals were the folks who wanted to change society,” Michael Barone writes at www.townhall.com.

“They thought existing institutions were unjust and that individuals needed protection against the workings of the market. They looked forward to a society that would be different,” Mr. Barone said.

“To a considerable extent, 20th century liberals achieved many of their goals. Racial segregation was abolished. An economic safety net was constructed. Government-issued regulations were set up to protect the environment. Few Americans want to undo these changes. But they may want others.

“Looking back on election year 2004, I am struck by how many of the constituencies supporting Democratic candidates oppose, rather than seek, change — how they are motivated not by ideas about how to change the future, but by something like nostalgia for the past.”

Mr. Barone cited black voters, most of whom seem to judge the Republican Party based on [then-Arizona Sen.] Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964; anti-war activists, many of whom seem to be reliving the Vietnam War; Democrats who see no reason to reform Social Security; and the feminist left, which seems stuck on the grievances of another era.

“The evolution of liberalism from a forward-looking to a backward-looking creed is partly the result of success — and partly a result of a failure to see where liberal ideas would lead. History does not always move in one direction, and if it seemed headed left a half-century ago, it seems headed the other way now,” Mr. Barone said.

Military poll

Despite a year of ferocious combat, mounting casualties and frequent deployments, support for the war in Iraq remains very high among the active-duty military, according to a Military Times Poll.

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60 percent remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting, Army Times reporter Robert Hodierne writes.

But the men and women in uniform are under no illusions about how long they will be fighting in Iraq. Nearly half say they expect to be there more than five years.

In addition, 87 percent say they’re satisfied with their jobs and, if given the choice today, only 25 percent say they would leave the service.

Compared with last year, the percentages for support for the war and job satisfaction remain essentially unchanged, the newspaper said.

A year ago, 77 percent said they thought the military was stretched too thin to be effective. This year, that number shrank to 66 percent.

The findings are part of the annual Military Times Poll, which this year included 1,423 active-duty subscribers to Air Force Times, Army Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.

The subscribers were randomly surveyed by mail in late November and early December. The poll has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

Return from dead

A new poll shows that Andrew M. Cuomo, whose political fortunes sank two years ago after he quit the race for New York governor, is the early favorite to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2006, the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker writes.

“The secret poll, conducted for a statewide Democrat elected official, found Cuomo — the former federal housing secretary and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo — with a comfortable, double-digit lead among Democrats over his nearest rival, former city Public Advocate Mark Green,” a source familiar with the poll told Mr. Dicker.

“Right now, the smart money should be on Andrew,” said the source.

“Cuomo, meanwhile, was described as making ‘significant gains’ in efforts to win support among prominent black Democrats, an ironic success since he was widely criticized for his abortive 2002 gubernatorial primary challenge to then-state Comptroller Carl McCall, the first African-American elected to statewide office.

“Insiders said Cuomo had recently held ‘positive’ meetings with the Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and Senate Minority Leader David Paterson, all of whom had attacked his challenge to McCall.”

Misleading proposition

“California voters approved a stem-cell initiative known as Proposition 71 on November 2. But only recently has anyone gotten around to analyzing the fine print,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“The law, which passed with 59 percent of the vote and vocal support from Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, authorizes $3 billion in bonds to pay for new research and facilities. And even though the interest rate will double the ultimate cost over 10 years, backers of the initiative said that the money raised from the bonds won’t cost the state anything for the first five,” the newspaper noted in an editorial.

“Or so most Californians thought before a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle noting that the Prop. 71 campaign misrepresented the measure in major ways. In fact, says the paper, ‘Interest payments will begin immediately, paid out of the bond money itself — meaning that tens to hundreds of millions of “research” dollars must be used to pay debt service.’

“Moreover, the law says the research money doesn’t even have to be spent on embryonic stem-cell studies. It can go to ‘other scientific and medical research and technologies’ to be determined by the independent governing board. Topping things off is a provision that hamstrings Sacramento with respect to any changes. Prop. 71 can’t be modified for three years, and then 70 percent of both Houses and the governor must approve any tinkering.”

Surgery for governor

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer yesterday.

A statement on the Republican governor’s Web site said she was diagnosed last week after a routine mammogram and that she is expected to remain in the hospital for three days, United Press International reports.

“The cancer was caught in its very early stages — in fact, the cancer itself did not appear on the mammogram and was only discovered during a biopsy of a non-cancerous calcium deposit — and tests have shown the disease has not spread,” the statement read in part.

The New York Times reported that Mrs. Rell, 58, said she plans to watch last night’s Motor City Bowl football game between the University of Connecticut and the University of Toledo. “My family is here with me for the holidays, and the doctors and I are ready. Nothing is going to keep me from cheering for the Huskies,” Mrs. Rell said.

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

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