- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Kerry and Arafat

“Democratic presidential nominee-to-be John Kerry called Yasser Arafat a ‘statesman’ and a ‘role model’ in a 1997 book that Kerry cites as proof of his own foresight about foreign policy,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“Kerry expressed the opposite view eight days ago, when he told Jewish leaders in New York that he shares President Bush’s belief that Arafat must be isolated because he’s not a ‘partner for peace’ — much less a statesman,” Miss Orin said.

“The revelation of Kerry’s comments in his 1997 book ‘The New War’ comes on the heels of his contradictory remarks about Israel’s security fence and whether or not he’d rely on Jimmy Carter as a Mideast envoy.

“‘Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat’s transformation from outlaw to statesman,’ Kerry wrote in ‘The New War,’ now out of print.

“Kerry added that terrorists ‘whose only object is to disrupt society require no such “role models [as Arafat].”’

“Kerry’s remarks came as he was dismissing noted historian Paul Johnson as out of date for saying the Palestinian Liberation Organization is ‘the quintessential terrorist movement’ but has achieved nothing for its people.

“Just last month, Kerry pointed to his book and told Fox News that it shows he’d be ‘a president who does see ahead.’”

No wave

Ace election tracker Stuart Rothenberg says he doesn’t see any anti-Bush or anti-Republican mood in the country that would lead to significant Democratic gains in the House this November.

In his latest congressional-election outlook, Mr. Rothenberg also says that “John Kerry isn’t likely to be an asset for Democratic House candidates in the South or in Republican-leaning districts.”

“Since few incumbents seem at great risk right now, and few open seats are expected to switch party, the outlook for the cycle as a whole is for relatively small net partisan change,” he says in the Rothenberg Political Report.

Yes, the economy remains “the most important issue” for House candidates, but “we do not yet see the kind of anti-incumbent sentiment that we saw during the mid-1990s, nor the kind of anti-Bush or anti-Republican mood that the Democrats would need to create even a small wave. Indeed, Republican voters seem loyal to Bush and to their party, and that limits potential Democratic gains.”

Meantime, mounting Republican attacks on Mr. Kerry’s liberal voting record “could create growing discomfort for Democratic House candidates in conservative and Republican areas.”

The bottom line: “Not much net change in the House. We’d expect anywhere from a Democratic gain of two or three seats to a GOP gain of a seat or two.”

Gaining ground

Former U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez is gaining momentum in Florida’s U.S. Senate primary race now that Republican superstar Katherine Harris has decided not to run, the Miami Herald reports, citing a new poll.

Even as his rivals target him for once contributing to some Democrats, Mr. Martinez picked up points in the Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll of 800 registered voters in Florida, pulling to within a single digit of former Rep. Bill McCollum, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2000.

Mr. Martinez, a former Orange County chairman, jumped into the race in December after prodding from the White House, which feared there was no Republican heavyweight in the race to replace the retiring Bob Graham, a Democrat. If elected, Mr. Martinez would be the first Cuban-American U.S. senator, and his ethnic ties were reflected in the poll: 50 percent of Hispanics polled backed Mr. Martinez, compared to just 8 percent for Mr. McCollum, the newspaper said.

Mr. McCollum was favored by 19 percent of Republicans polled, Mr. Martinez by 18 percent. In December, when Mrs. Harris, the former Florida secretary of state, was considering a run, she polled at 29 percent. Nevertheless, nearly half of Republicans and Democrats are undecided. Indeed, there are more undecided voters than in a previous Senate-race poll conducted in December.

The Democratic front-runner remains former Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor, who leads her rivals in name recognition but trails them in money raised. She outpolled U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch 2-to-1, and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas 3-to-1.

Martha’s party

Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, apparently unaware that Martha Stewart is a Democratic activist who has raised large sums of money for the party, says Democrats can use Stewart’s conviction and various corporate scandals as a weapon against the GOP.

“Less than four hours after a federal jury in Manhattan convicted Martha Stewart, Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on [the Fox News Channel], advised Democrats that, ‘if they’re smart,’ they will ‘connect the dots’ amongst people ‘losing jobs,’ ‘high-rollers’ and CEOs ‘getting off easy’ as they ‘give campaign contributions to President Bush,’ not to mention ‘Cheney with Halliburton,’” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

‘Disingenuous’ complaintt

Debra Burlingame, a lifelong Democrat who lost a brother in the September 11 terror attacks, says other “9/11 families” are wrong to try to stifle debate by demanding that President Bush stop using TV ads that include images from that day.

“It is one thing for individual family members to invoke the memory of all 3,000 victims as they take to the microphone or podium to show respect for our collective loss. It is another for them to attempt to stifle the debate over the future direction of our country by declaring that the images of 9/11 should be off-limits in the presidential race, and to do so under the rubric of ‘the Families of September 11.’

“They do not represent me. Nor do they represent those Americans who feel that September 11 was a defining moment in the history of our country and who want to know how the current or future occupant of the Oval Office views the lessons of that day,” Miss Burlingame said.

She added: “I suspect that the real outrage over the ads has more to do with context than content. It’s not the pictures that disturb them so much as the person who is using them. This is demonstrated in their affiliation with Moveon.org, a rabidly anti-Bush group that sponsored a rally they held last Friday calling for the president to pull his ads off the air. But by disingenuously declaring themselves ‘nonpartisan’ and insisting that it is a matter of ‘taste,’ they retain a powerful weapon that they have learned to exploit to their advantage.”

Slow learners

Some people, no matter how often they are corrected, can’t seem to accept that President Bush repeatedly had justified an invasion of Iraq as removing a threat before it became imminent.

Still, we were surprised to read this line from the New York Times’ lead editorial yesterday: “The Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq was based on a supposedly imminent threat from Iraqi unconventional weapons.”

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

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