- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Trippi and Gore

Joe Trippi, who not long ago served as Howard Dean’s presidential campaign manager, says Al Gore’s endorsement was the catalyst that destroyed the former Vermont governor’s campaign.

“You have a party that’s tried to make every rule that it can to stop an insurgent. But at the same time — it’s not Al Gore’s endorsement — what I’m saying is, him endorsing us was a good thing. But at the same time, the unintended consequence of it was that the second Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean, alarms went off in newsrooms and at every other campaign headquarters,” Mr. Trippi said in a Q&A; with Matt Bai for the New York Times Magazine.

“At the campaign headquarters, they all had meetings and said, ‘We’ve got to stop Howard Dean right this second.’ That’s what the Al Gore endorsement meant. It meant, We’ve got to kill this guy or he’s going to be the nominee.”

When asked whether he had enouraged Mr. Dean to make a third-party run or go all the way to the convention, Mr. Trippi replied: “No. No. This year’s too important. I really believe that this is the most pivotal political moment in my lifetime. I think Bush needs to be defeated.”

Hysterical Democrats

“Ralph Nader is always entertaining, and his just-announced repeat campaign for the presidency doesn’t disappoint. Start with the over-the-top reaction from Democrats,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

“The Kerry and Edwards campaigns instantly condemned Mr. Nader’s entry as an independent. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe showed rare self-restraint in merely calling it ‘unfortunate.’ ‘Counter-productive’ and ‘vanity’ were among the kinder epithets from other liberals, but we’ll admit our favorite reaction was Al Sharpton’s. Speaking from a deep well of personal authority, the reverend said Mr. Nader was either ‘an egomaniac’ or ‘a Bush contract.’

“All of this animosity is rooted in the belief that Mr. Nader is a ‘spoiler’ who cost Democrats the election in 2000 and could do so again. We don’t think President Bush was, or is, that lucky. The biggest albatross Al Gore carried in 2000 was Bill Clinton and his impeachment legacy. Two-thirds of the voters who went to the polls that year said the country was moving in the right direction, yet millions of them still voted against the incumbent party. Ralph didn’t make them do that.”

Who’s laughing?

“Ralph Nader is running for president again. The media blitz is under way. So is the backlash,” liberal columnist Timothy Noah writes in Slate (www.slate.com.)

“The more urgent question Democrats need to ask is whether former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will run for president,” says Mr. Noah, noting signals that the Constitution Party is courting the famous “Ten Commandments judge” as its presidential candidate. And President Bush may have helped push Mr. Moore into mounting a third-party challenge on the right.

“Bush’s recess appointment of William H. Pryor to the 11th Circuit, though generally a disaster for liberals, is a great boon in one largely overlooked respect. It has very likely enraged Roy Moore. It was Pryor who, as Alabama’s attorney general, helped give Moore the boot when Moore refused to remove his famous monument to the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. (Pryor’s conservative detractors say Pryor did it to shore up support for his judgeship in the Senate.)

“If Moore does run, there’s a lot of potential support for him out there,” Mr. Noah writes, citing a recent article by Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times on religious conservatives’ dissatisfaction with the Bush administration.

A recent Weekly Standard article scornfully dismissed talk of a Moore candidacy, and Mr. Noah writes: “They’re laughing at you, Judge. Bill Kristol, Bill Pryor, and Karl Rove are laughing at you. Bet that fair-weather-Christian of a president’s laughing at you, too. They might as well be laughing at the Ten Commandments. Are you going to just sit there and let them laugh at the Ten Commandments?”

Propositions ahead

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed big bond issue that will be decided in next week’s election gets support from around half of likely voters, according to two polls released yesterday.

Proposition 57, which would authorize up to $15 billion in bonds to help balance the state budget, was favored by 51 percent of likely voters, with 34 percent opposed, according to the statewide Los Angeles Times poll. Fifteen percent were undecided.

A Field Poll, also released yesterday, shows the measure favored by 50 percent of the voters with 36 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided.

The bond issue, which the actor turned governor says is key to the state’s beleagured finances, would be the biggest state bond issue in U.S. history. Without the bond money, the governor has said deep spending cuts will be necessary.

The companion measure limiting future borrowing by the Legislature found more support. Proposition 58 was favored by 58 percent of those surveyed and opposed by 23 percent in the Los Angeles Times poll, with 19 percent undecided. The Field Poll found 55 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed and 17 percent undecided.

The Los Angeles Times poll found that many voters knew little about the measures. About half of those surveyed were unable to answer when asked whether they supported them. Responses came after they were read descriptions of the measures, the Associated Press reports.

Reluctant governors

With two senators vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he believes the ticket should be balanced with a governor for vice president.

Just not him, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

In fact, at the National Governors Association meeting in the nation’s capital this week you could not find a Democratic governor who was not firmly focused on his job, devoutly committed to the people of his state and otherwise acting disinterested in being the second-most-powerful public servant in the country, reporter James W. Brosnan writes.

But history suggests that few turn down the job if offered, the reporter said.

“Probably in every governor there beats the heart of a potential president,” said West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise. The Democrat quickly added, “Except that I am not a candidate.”

Paige’s ‘bad joke’

Education Secretary Rod Paige says he chose poor words in calling the nation’s largest teachers union a “terrorist organization,” but he stands by his claim that the group uses “obstructionist scare tactics” in its fight over the nation’s education law.

Mr. Paige used the terrorist reference Monday in a private White House meeting with governors while answering a question about the National Education Association, which has 2.7 million members.

Mr. Paige told The Associated Press in an interview that he made the comment in jest.

“I was making what I now know was a bad joke; it was a poor choice of words,” Mr. Paige said. “I was referencing the Washington-based organization in general, not teachers.”

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

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