- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

Bush’s ads

“At last George W. Bush is doing what he needs to do to win this election — run ads that explain John Kerry’s liberalism to moderate swing voters,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“And the Bush ads are very good. He focuses on three lines of attack: Kerry’s advocacy of a ‘$900 billion tax increase,’ his support for weakening the Patriot Act and his commitment to awaiting United Nations approval before ‘defending America.’

“Particularly clever is the tax-increase charge. Throughout the Democratic primary, Kerry competed with his fellow candidates to denounce the Bush tax cut and to urge its repeal. Now Bush has turned the rescinding of a tax reduction into a tax increase. The sunset provisions the Democrats agreed to include in the tax cut legislation specify that the cuts automatically expire in 2005 and 2006, making them highly relevant in the election. While Bush has never had a convincing majority in favor of his tax cuts, over 80 percent of Americans oppose a tax increase,” Mr. Morris said.

“Kerry’s answer is weak. In a rebuttal ad, the Democrat just says it ain’t so without elaborating. Kerry’s commercial says ‘John Kerry has never called for a $900 billion tax increase. He wants to cut taxes for the middle class.’

“But voters are inclined to believe that Kerry wants to raise taxes, and they have heard the Democrat excoriate the Bush tax cuts in his speeches for a year. So Kerry has to do more than just deny the charge. The Bush attack will hit home and score deeply.”

Everybody’s Irish

John Kerry’s heritage was not far from political minds on St. Patrick’s Day.

Speaking about Irish-Americans in politics at a “Friendly Sons of St. Patrick” dinner in Dickson City, Pa., yesterday, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans recalled some of the great ones who had come before, such as former Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. He also inducted honorary Irish-Americans — “President George O’Bush,” “Vice President Dick McCheney,” and “Secretary of State Killian Powell.”

After first noting his own Irish heritage didn’t extend past “a lapel pin I wear that says, ‘Kiss me, I’m from Texas,’” he moved on to Mr. Kerry.

“Some of you may have even heard from that fellow of a different political stripe who looks French but claims to be an Irishman,” Mr. Evans said. “I guess there’s an election coming up this year.”

For his part, Mr. Kerry, speaking at George Washington University yesterday, apologized for his lack of green apparel and his pinkish-colored tie in particular.

“I didn’t get to go home, by my house on the way over here,” he said by way of explanation. “I did send a memo out to my staff today reminding them that green beer is not a health food.”

Hastert vs. Spain

Spain gave in to threats and voted to “appease terrorists” in the election Sunday that turned out a top U.S. ally in the counterterror war, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said yesterday.

The comments by Mr. Hastert, an Illinois Republican, strongly contrast with those of President Bush, who has sidestepped the question of whether the election results could encourage terrorists, the Associated Press reports.

Speaking to Capitol Hill reporters on another subject, Mr. Hastert referred to “a nation who succumbed … to threats of terrorism, changed their government.”

Asked if he was referring to Spain, he said: “Well, I’m saying, they changed their government because of the perception of threat.

“Here’s a country who stood against terrorism and had a huge terrorist act within their country and they chose to change their government and to, in a sense, appease terrorists.”

By comparison, when Mr. Bush was asked Tuesday whether the vote gave terrorists reason to believe that they can influence elections and policy, he replied: “I think terrorists will kill innocent life in order to try to get the world to cower. I think these are cold-blooded killers.”

Reining in judges

Several House Republicans in a resolution introduced yesterday said they have had enough of activist Supreme Court and other federal judges using international and European judicial rulings in their decisions.

Reps. Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia and Tom Feeney of Florida, who drafted the resolution, said the courts have been slowly chipping away and usurping powers the Constitution explicitly gives to Congress — the creation of laws.

“The American people have not authorized through Congress or through a constitutional amendment the use of foreign laws to establish new law or deny rights here in the United States,” Mr. Feeney said.

Mr. Goodlatte pointed out the use of European judicial decisions in the Lawrence v. Texas case in which the Supreme Court overturned Texas state law banning sodomy. And Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said the Supreme Court in 1999 used portions of a decision made by the judiciary of Zimbabwe to reach a conclusion in a capital punishment case.

“This is a country ruled by a dictator … rampant with human rights violations with no freedoms of speech or religion,” Mr. Smith said.

The resolution has more than 60 co-sponsors so far in two weeks of circulation in the House. Mr. Goodlatte said the resolution is a first step and expects broad support for the bill on the House floor.

Domenici’s complaint

New Mexico Sen. Pete V. Domenici “shocked his colleagues during an angry speech late last Thursday when he labeled the National Institutes of Health ‘pigs’ and implied that a fellow Republican senator was doing the NIH’s bidding,” the Hill newspaper reports.

“I hate to say it, but the NIH is one of the best agencies in the world,” an angry Mr. Domenici said as he spoke in opposition to an amendment by Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, to boost NIH funding by $1.5 billion. “But they’ve turned into pigs. You know, pigs! They can’t keep their oinks closed. They send a senator down there [to] argue as if they’re broke.”

Reporter Geoff Earle writes, “Those who watched Domenici said that he twice placed his hand in front of his mouth in the shape of a pig’s snout and then wiggled his fingers. ‘He was definitely making a pig face,’ said one Democratic aide.”

The Senate later passed the amendment and the budget resolution.

A tightening race

The Republican primary contest in Pennsylvania between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Patrick J. Toomey appears to be tightening.

Two polls released this week show Mr. Toomey, the conservative challenger, moving to within about 10 percentage points of Mr. Specter with six weeks to go before the vote.

A survey by the Polling Company, commissioned by the Club for Growth, had Mr. Specter ahead, 47 percent to 37 percent. Mr. Specter led by 23 percent in a Polling Company survey in January.

The Club for Growth backs Mr. Toomey, but its numbers were almost identical to a Survey USA poll, commissioned by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and WNEP-TV in Scranton, which had Mr. Specter in the lead, 47 percent to 38 percent.

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

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