- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

No ketchup jokes

Aside from being a professor of communications at the University of Missouri-Columbia, William Benoit is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on presidential campaigns.

His latest research: Whether in debates, television spots or direct-mail brochures, Republicans historically make more character attacks and fewer policy attacks than Democrats.

“No crystal-ball effect is perfect,” Mr. Benoit says, “but based on the past performance of presidential candidates — including President Bush’s 2000 campaign messages — it seems likely that Republicans will attack more on character than Democrats.”

Why is this important?

“This is potentially important because as a group, presidential candidates who attack more on character than their opponents are significantly more likely to lose elections,” he says. “Emphasizing character in one’s attacks does not guarantee a loss, but it makes a loss more likely.”

Quack, quack

As far as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is concerned, the issue is not whether Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should recuse himself from a case involving his hunting partner and friend, Vice President Dick Cheney, but about ensuring justice for all.

After learning about a recent duck-hunting trip taken by the pair of Washingtonians — and subsequent comments about hunting by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — PETA President Ingrid Newkirk fired off a letter to every member of the Supreme Court, asking that they extend justice to ducks, doves and other animals by not shooting them.

“[H]ow can we preach against violence or, indeed, rule on issues concerning violence, discrimination, and prejudice against others while conducting violent acts for pleasure and picking on those to whom we do not exactly relate?” the letter reads.

Up until now, the issue was whether the duo’s hunting trip last month — on the heels of the court’s agreeing to hear a White House appeal involving the vice president’s energy task force — jeopardized Justice Scalia’s impartiality in the proceedings.

But PETA’s ears perked up when Justice Ginsburg, a feminist appointed by President Clinton, commented that she’s enjoyed deer meat from Justice Scalia’s previous hunting expeditions.

“Justice Scalia has been more successful at deer hunting than he has at duck hunting,” she went so far as to point out.

Fall deportation?

The natives are getting restless over President Bush’s proposal to grant legal residency to as many as 12 million illegal immigrants.

The president says he wants to let illegals stay in the United States under an unprecedented “guest-worker” program to match “willing workers” to jobs that “Americans don’t want.”

But polls show what “Americans don’t want” is the president’s plan.

In fact, citizens have flooded the mailboxes of their congressmen, complaining that Mr. Bush’s plan is just fancy talk for yet another amnesty — rewarding foreign lawbreakers with legal work status, an election-year sellout of principles.

Down in Georgia, opponents of the Bush amnesty plan recently turned out for a protest at the state Capitol in Atlanta. Hand-lettered signs brandished by the demonstrators proclaimed such sentiments as “Gringos for America” and — in tribute to the Republican congressman from Colorado who is the leading opponent of Mr. Bush’s proposal — “Write In Tom Tancredo.”

Grass-roots conservatives have pinned blame for the amnesty plan on the president’s top political strategist, and one protester in Atlanta carried a sign offering this helpful suggestion:

“Deport Karl Rove.”

Turtle and hare

Days after columnist Robert Novak outed an undercover CIA officer last year that the Justice Department began an investigation: 74.

Days after Paul H. O’Neill criticized President Bush on TV in January that the former Treasury secretary came under similar investigation: one.

Harper’s Index, March

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

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