- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2004

A partisan panel

“It was always a terrible idea for the September 11 commission to drop its report in the middle of a presidential election campaign, and we are now seeing why. That body is turning into a fiasco of partisanship and political score-settling,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“To be precise, Democrats are using the commission as a platform to assail the Bush administration for fumbling the war on terror, implicitly blaming it even for 9/11. That’s the clear message of the testimony to be offered this week to the commission by former Clinton officials, who conveniently leaked their opinions to the New York Times in advance. Conveniently, too, former anti-terror aide Richard Clarke has chosen this week to begin the media tour for his new book pushing the same anti-Bush theme. He’s also scheduled to meet the commission this week,” the newspaper editorial said.

“Republican chairman Tom Kean, a former governor little schooled in defense and foreign affairs, is apparently oblivious to the political hardball being played around him. Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, an ex-member of Congress well-versed in national security, is a better choice.

“But Mr. Hamilton has to contend with his fellow Democrats, who include hyper-partisans Richard Ben-Veniste, Jamie Gorelick and Tim Roemer. These three caucus weekly, reporting back regularly to Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle for political fine-tuning.”

Cronkite’s lament

Former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, in a “Dear Sen. Kerry” letter published this week as part of his nationally syndicated column, pleaded with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to own up to his liberalism.

“In the interests of your campaign and your party’s desire to unseat George W. Bush, you have some explaining to do,” Mr. Cronkite said.

“When the National Journal said your Senate record makes you one of the most liberal members of the Senate, you called that ‘a laughable characterization’ and ‘the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ Wow! Liberals, who make up a substantial portion of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the independent vote, are entitled to ask, ‘What gives?’

“It isn’t just the National Journal that has branded you as a liberal. So has the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action. … What are you ashamed of?”

Biggest critics

The latest report from Media Tenor, an independent institute examining presidential election media coverage, has found that President Bush’s biggest critics in mid-March were the journalists from ABC, NBC and CBS.

More than 40 percent of journalists’ remarks on Mr. Bush in the last 10 days were distinctly negative, the institute said. During this same period, two-thirds of all negative statements on presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry originated from Mr. Bush, members of his Cabinet or other Republicans.

Other trends highlighted in the report:

• Over the last few weeks, “NBC Nightly News” featured the most positive coverage of Mr. Kerry. NBC was the only network where Mr. Kerry’s image has remained more positive than Mr. Bush’s.

• Media coverage of Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry in mid-March was dominated by foreign policy. Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Kerry, however, managed to position themselves in the news with positive stories.

Complete copies of the report can be found at www.mediatenor.com.

No laws violated

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who painted an unflattering portrait of President Bush in a book in January, received 140 government documents (included in the book) that should not have been released after he left office, the Treasury Department’s inspector general says.

The report yesterday from Jeffrey Rush Jr. said that no federal laws had been violated in the release of the documents, but that Treasury needed to improve the way it handled sensitive documents.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Associated Press and other news organizations, Mr. Rush’s office released several hundred pages covering its investigation of how Mr. O’Neill received some 19,000 government documents that were used to write a book highly critical of Mr. Bush.

The new report found that 140 of those documents had not been marked classified, even though they contained national security or sensitive-but-unclassified information.

“Had these 140 documents been properly marked as classified, the documents would not have been entered into Treasury’s unclassified computer system and O’Neill would not have received them,” the report said.

Treasury began its investigation in January after CBS’s “60 Minutes” showed a document marked “secret” during an interview in which Mr. O’Neill promoted the new book, “The Price of Loyalty.”

Surprise, surprise

Nobody really suspected this, did they?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported yesterday that a study on the “Political Diversity of University of Nevada at Las Vegas Faculty” discovered that out of 125 faculty members in seven departments, 91 percent were liberals — either Democratic or Green Party voters.

The study of voter-registration records was done by the University of Nevada Las Vegas College Libertarians and the UNLV Students for Academic Freedom.

The study surveyed the economics, English, history, philosophy, political science, sociology and civil/environmental engineering departments, the newspaper said.

David Damore, a political science professor, said he wasn’t surprised to learn eight of the 16 professors in his department are, like him, registered Democrats. There are also two nonpartisans; one Green; one Republican and three not registered. The others couldn’t be determined in the study.

“There are some conservatives in the department, but it doesn’t surprise me that it’s mostly Democrats,” Mr. Damore said. “It’s like that everywhere.”

Arnold’s trip

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will travel to Israel in May to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, the governor’s office announced.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is a longtime supporter of the Wiesenthal center, which is devoted to fighting intolerance and is named for the famed Nazi hunter.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met with Mr. Schwarzenegger on Friday at the Los Angeles center and discussed the possibility of the governor speaking at an anti-Semitism conference in Israel, said Mr. Shalom’s spokesman, Moshe Debby.

“Anti-Semitism is flourishing, is rising once again,” Mr. Shalom said. “I believe that if we are united, we will prevail.”

Mr. Debby said the governor has not confirmed if he will speak at the event. The governor’s office would not comment on the conference. The date of the conference was not clear, the Associated Press reports.

The trip will be Mr. Schwarzenegger’s first outside the United States since he became governor last year.

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

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