- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sending a message

President Bush has enjoyed teasing the press for the past week, sticking his re-election in their faces, now that every gaffe or answer to a tough question doesn’t have dire and immediate consequences. He also has subtly made it clear that world leaders — even those who aren’t thrilled about a second Bush term — had better get used to dealing with him for another four years.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is among those who have showered Mr. Bush with flattery, saying yesterday after an Oval Office visit that he relished “the pleasure and the privilege of speaking to the president as the first foreign visitor after his electoral success.” He also promised that NATO would take a more active role in training Iraqi security forces, despite the objections of the anti-war coalition of France and Germany.

Mr. Bush has also taken more than a dozen calls from world leaders eager to congratulate him on his re-election. The new prime minister of Spain, who angered the White House by keeping his campaign promise to withdraw his country’s troops from Iraq, is conspicuously not among them. It’s not for a lack of trying, though.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero phoned the White House shortly after Mr. Bush’s Nov. 2 win, but was not put through to the president. Subsequent calls have been similarly ignored, and White House spokesman Scott McClellan left the impression that the slight is purposeful.

“I think that may be the case, that [Mr. Zapatero] has tried to reach out,” Mr. McClellan said yesterday. “Calls are scheduled at times that are mutually convenient. Some calls are able to be scheduled quicker than others.”

Adding to the snub, Mr. Bush found the time Tuesday to meet privately at the White House with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar — whose staunch support for Mr. Bush and the Iraq war cost him his job to Mr. Zapatero.

Specter’s defense

To resolve any concern that I would block pro-life judicial nominees, take a look at my record,” Sen. Arlen Specter wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, responding to conservative critics who want to block his ascension to chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

“I have consistently opposed any litmus test. I have backed that up by voting to confirm pro-life nominees including Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy. I led the fight to confirm Justice Clarence Thomas, which almost cost me my Senate seat in 1992,” said Mr. Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican.

“I have voted for all of President Bush’s judicial nominees in committee and on the floor.

“The current controversy was artificially created by incorrect reporting. I never ‘warned’ the president on anything — and especially not that I’d block pro-life nominees.

Brian Wilson, a reporter for Fox News, said: ‘I looked at the tape very closely. … Senator Specter was the victim of some spin on the part of some reporters who took some comments and were looking for a kind of a good headline out of it.’

“Similarly, Rush Limbaugh refused to join the critics, saying: ‘This Specter story … may be a story about the media again … apparently, just from the looks of this, it may be that some words were put in his mouth that he didn’t say.’

The Rev. Pat Robertson has also seen through the media spin, stating on Nov. 8 that ‘I am not worried about Arlen Specter, and I think he’ll be fine.’

“I merely noted the political facts of life. Pro-life nominees might be filibustered by the Democrats. The Democrats had done so repeatedly in the last Congress.”

Zell v. Maureen

Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, “laced into New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd [Tuesday] on the “Imus in the Morning” radio show, saying, ‘The more Maureen Loud gets on ‘Meet the Press’ and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don’t want some highbrow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they’re idiots and telling them that they’re stupid,’” the New York Post reports.

“Miller also suggested ‘that red-headed woman at the New York Times’ should not mock anyone’s religion: ‘You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair.’ Dowd responds: ‘I’m not a highbrow hussy from New York. I’m a highbrow hussy from Washington. Senator, pistols or swords?’”

Clinton’s warning

Bill Clinton, noting an “astonishing turnout among evangelical Christians” in this year’s election, warns that Democrats “cannot be nationally competitive when we don’t feel comfortable talking about our convictions.”

“I do not believe either party has a monopoly on morality or truth,” Mr. Clinton told an audience of more than 4,500 at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

He spoke Tuesday, one week after President Bush won re-election over Democratic Sen. John Kerry and the Republicans bolstered their majorities in the House and Senate.

“I think the current divisions are partly the fault of the people in my party for not engaging the Christian evangelical community in a serious discussion of what it would take to promote a real culture of life,” Mr. Clinton said.

While the Kerry loss has left Mr. Clinton’s wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a potential front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, both the former president and the former first lady have avoided discussing that in public, the Associated Press notes.

Mr. Clinton, in discussing her future, said only: “I’ll do what I can to help Hillary, because I’m really proud of her.”

Democratic activists

Milwaukee police are focusing on Democratic activists, including the children of two prominent politicians, in the Election Day slashing of tires on 20 vans and cars rented by the Republican Party.

Opel E. Simmons III, 33, a veteran Democratic Party activist from Virginia, was arrested last week and released two days later without being charged, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Sowande Ajumoke Omokunde, also known as Supreme Solar Allah, was arrested and held for several hours on Friday. The 25-year-old is the son of state Sen. Gwen Moore, who was elected to Congress on the day of the incident.

Police also were interested in talking to Michael Pratt, son of former acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, who led Sen. John Kerry’s Milwaukee campaign, the newspaper said.

Lewis Gibson Caldwell III also surrendered to police in connection with damage to the vehicles, which were intended to transport voters to the polls.

Semper Fi

“I am hoping the demolition will be complete soon and they can get started on building the new Fallujah Wal-Mart.” — a Navy medical officer stationed with the Marine Corps in Iraq, in an e-mail yesterday to family members, posted on National Review Online’s “The Corner.”

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

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