- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Barney’s mom

The silly season in Massachusetts politics is traditionally launched by the banter and blarney of the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast for pols and pundits held in South Boston, but Democratic Rep. Barney Frank didn’t wait for the green eggs and ham to lambaste his Republican opponent by threatening to unleash his mother on him.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever been smacked by a 91-year-old, but if my mother reads this, he’s going to need a bodyguard,” Mr. Frank told the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., in response to comments by challenger Chuck Morse.

What really got Mr. Frank’s blood boiling was a quote from a book authored by Mr. Morse in which the former conservative talk-show host suggested: “Frank, a self-described homosexual, exhibits the type of aggressive male behavior that is perhaps enhanced by a life without the civilizing influence of a woman.”

Reached yesterday in Massachusetts, Ben Kilgore, spokesman for Mr. Morse, told Inside the Beltway: “Things are obviously heating up here to the point that Barney has now threatened us in print with his 91-year-old mother — he’s going to sic her on the candidate. If that weren’t so funny it would be positively tragic.”

Mr. Morse has fueled the fire of late by taking the Democratic incumbent a step further from the “most notorious gay rights activist in America” to “the most outspoken proponent of gay marriage in America.”

“And to think the election is still seven months away,” Mr. Kilgore conceded yesterday.

No matter who the voters support, if the race for Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District is, as Mr. Morse claims, “a microcosm of the cultural war zone America has become,” it ought to attract plenty of attention this fall. Stay tuned.

Politics, as usual

The Democratic National Committee was quick to jump on the Monday morning bandwagon of Richard A. Clarke, a former top terrorism official in the past four administrations who now charges that President Bush ignored his urgent warnings from early 2001 that the U.S. faced imminent terrorist threats from al Qaeda.

Albeit, the DNC acknowledges, “threats that developed over the previous eight years” during the watch of President Clinton.

Still, the Democratic Party has now decided to circulate a petition to congressional leaders — Republicans, mind you — “urging a full investigation into President Bush’s national security record before and after the attacks of September 11.”

Ruth’s publicist

First came calls from Democrats in Congress that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was nominated by President Reagan, recuse himself (he refused) from an appeals case involving Vice President Dick Cheney because the two men hunted Louisiana ducks together.

Now, Republicans in Congress are calling on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated by President Clinton, to disqualify herself from abortion-related cases because of her suspected ties to the pro-choice NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“We find … they call into question your ability to judge fairly in cases that the NOW Legal Defense Fund regularly involves itself,” 13 members of Congress have written to the associate justice. “It is well known that NOW Legal Defense engages in active lobbying on behalf of pro-abortion activists and regularly submits briefs to the Supreme Court in a variety of cases.”

For that matter, the NOW Legal Defense Web site home page highlights Justice Ginsburg’s speaking engagements and even pictures her next to the organization’s president, Kathy Rodgers.

“Such a relationship casts serious doubts on the impartiality that is so important in judicial matters,” note the Republican lawmakers, who are calling attention to the Web site.

Federal law requires that a justice or judge “disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Space-age voting

Conspiracy theorists will delight in the latest Harper’s Index, which calls attention to the percentage of U.S. voters whose 2004 vote will be cast via a computer system producing no paper record: 29.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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