- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Teddy’s party

The political philosophy embraced by Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards “is lopsidedly leftist: In this campaign they have clawed their way up the greasy pole of politics with a pitch that is pure populism,” New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

“Both men have risen high in Democratic polls with a brand of class resentment and soak-the-rich rhetoric rooted in the old-fashioned liberalism of Ted Kennedy,” Mr. Safire said.

“I used to think that the battle within the Democratic Party would pit the centrist Clinton Restoration, using [Wesley] Clark as its sacrificial lamb this time around, against the maverick antiwar, antiestablishment legion that [Howard] Dean had excited. Though Dean also railed against the rich, his signature attraction was his antiwar anger.

“As Dean machine-gunned himself in the foot — in gaffes that dismayed Iowans weeks before his primal pep talk — his support did not switch to Clark, the inept amateur handled and financed by the Clintonites. Instead, many disillusioned Deaniacs went to a third faction that has long been lying in the Democratic weeds: the proponents of class warfare propounded for a generation by Ted Kennedy.”

The columnist said that Mr. Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, has “honed his ‘two Americas’ theme into the smoothest call for enforced leveling since Huey Long’s ‘every man a king.’”

Ready to revolt

“For 30 years, the foot soldiers of the conservative movement have gathered [in Washington] for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“It is the only major conclave in which all elements of the conservative movement — from home-schoolers to antitax crusaders to missile-defense advocates — are represented,” Mr. Fund said.

“What should worry President Bush is that at the CPAC meeting that ended Saturday there was a clear undercurrent of discontent with his administration. ‘The people here will vote for Bush, but their friends could be dispirited and stay home just as [White House adviser] Karl Rove said some did in 2000,’ says Don Devine, who served as President Reagan’s director of federal personnel. ‘We all know how close that election turned out.’

“That’s one reason President Bush is scrambling to quell a conservative revolt. In his State of the Union Address, Mr. Bush called for fighting wasteful spending and also tried to placate his base by announcing support on several issues important to his core constituency. The president gave tacit support for a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage and backed modest Social Security reform, as well as expanding individual retirement accounts.

“To address the spending issue more directly, as CPAC was meeting the president announced he’d hold the line on spending in the budget he’ll submit to Congress early next month. Mr. Bush promises to ask for an overall increase in discretionary spending of less than 4 percent. For spending not related to defense and homeland security, he says he’ll hold the increase to 1 percent.

“That didn’t quiet the grumbling at CPAC. What nearly everyone seemed concerned about is the 36 percent increase in nonentitlement spending since Mr. Bush took office. From the farm bill to the new Medicare entitlement, spending lobbies have never had it so good since the heyday of the Great Society.”

Impeachment panel

Connecticut state lawmakers voted yesterday to form a committee to investigate Gov. John G. Rowland and decide whether he should be impeached for accepting gifts and free work on his vacation cottage.

The House committee will be the first in state history to investigate a sitting governor and have the power to recommend impeachment. The resolution creating the committee was adopted unanimously in a special session, 140-0, with 11 members absent, the Associated Press reports.

The members of the panel — five Democrats and five Republicans — had already been chosen.

The Republican governor said in a statement after the vote that he was pleased the process was moving forward: “I have a great deal of respect for the members of the committee and I look forward to a fair inquiry. As the committee begins its work, I remain focused on my job.”

Bush-bashing tour

Loathing President Bush is an art form in Berkeley, Calif., a disgust so pointed that 3,500 people recently gave a standing ovation to a trio of best-selling Bush-bashing authors — comedian Al Franken, economist Paul Krugman and ex-Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips — before they uttered a word onstage, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Unbeknownst to most in the sold-out Berkeley Community Theater audience, they were beta-testing a show that East Coast promoters are developing into a national barnstorming tour.

The promoters were impressed: Dates in New York and New Haven, Conn., are expected to be announced in the next week on what’s being billed as the “Rolling Thunder” tour, Chronicle reporter Joe Garofoli said.

Bookers in Los Angeles and Chicago are gauging the reception of the unorthodox concept — three disparate authors, fronted by three different publishers, united only by their common pounding of the leader of the free world — before scheduling local versions.

Blair vs. Cheney

British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to see U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney as the main threat to Anglo-American relations, according to a new Blair biography.

In the months before the Iraq war, “Cheney would be the constant, disrupting force in the Anglo-American relationship,” says the new book, “Tony Blair,” by Financial Times columnist Philip Stephens, published in London this week.

The book, written on the basis of interviews with Mr. Blair and his closest aide, says Mr. Cheney “remained implacably opposed to the British strategy” of seeking a U.N. mandate, but Mr. Blair’s close relationship with President Bush carried the day.

United Press International reports that the book also quotes Mr. Cheney’s top national security aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, poking fun at British officials, saying, “Oh dear, we’d better not do that or we might upset the prime minister.”

Clark vs. Cohen

Wesley Clark says he was fired as NATO supreme commander because he clashed with a Republican defense secretary over stopping ethnic cleansing.

Mr. Clark, a retired four-star Army general now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he was fired by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, a Republican serving under Democratic President Clinton, because they clashed directly over the need to use force to end Serbian ethnic cleansing in Albanian-majority Kosovo, United Press International reports.

“I had a belief that the United States should prevent ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and he didn’t agree with that,” Mr. Clark told his audience Sunday at New England College in Henniker, N.H.

Mr. Clark said Mr. Clinton sided with him, and then later “the Pentagon got even.”

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

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