- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Suggestion for Powell

One Republican in Congress has an interesting idea for what retiring Secretary of State Colin L. Powell should do next — take on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in her race for re-election in 2006.

In a letter to Mr. Powell, Rep. Vito J. Fossella, New York Republican, told him to give it serious consideration.

“I write to ask that you consider a call of duty from your home state. On behalf of the people of New York, I respectfully request that you consider returning home and running as the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 2006,” Mr. Fossella said.

Mr. Fossella did not mention the woman already holding that seat, first-term senator Mrs. Clinton, but didn’t seem to think she would be much trouble for Mr. Powell.

“Your resume and leadership qualities speak for themselves and no doubt would vault you into the esteemed ranks of the great senators,” he wrote.

Doctor Limbaugh

“Mental health officials in South Florida blasted Rush Limbaugh on Monday, saying the conservative talk show host’s offer of ‘free therapy’ for traumatized John Kerry voters has made a mockery of a valid psychological problem,” the Boca Raton (Fla.) News reports.

“‘Rush Limbaugh has a way of back-handedly slamming people,’ said Sheila Cooperman, a licensed clinician with the American Health Association (AHA) who listened Friday as Mr. Limbaugh offered to personally treat her patients. ‘He’s trying to ridicule the emotional state this presidential election produced in many of us here in Palm Beach County. Who is he to offer therapy?’”

The Boca Raton News reported last week that more than 30 distraught Kerry supporters in South Florida contacted the nonprofit AHA after their candidate’s Nov. 3 concession to President Bush. AHA officials have diagnosed the disorder as Post Election Selection Trauma (PEST) and have scheduled the first of several free group therapy sessions for just after Thanksgiving.

“Cooperman, whose professional practice is based in Delray Beach, said the election-related symptoms she sees in the Kerry supporters more than qualify PEST as ‘a legitimate syndrome or disorder within the trauma spectrum,’ according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. …

“A man named Paul wrote to AHA, ‘I too was very depressed, and I knew a lot people who felt the same way. You have to understand that to many of us, this was the key election about the future of our country, and with a Bush win that future is pretty much destroyed. Naturally, there’s going to be some significant grief.’”

What message?

On the Saturday night after the election, the Kerry campaign assembled at H2O, a waterfront nightclub in Southwest Washington, for a final evening of drinking, the New Republic’s Ryan Lizza writes.

“To everyone’s surprise, John Kerry himself flew down from Boston to attend the festivities. Trying to buck up his demoralized troops, the ex-candidate gave a short speech about how much his team had accomplished,” Mr. Lizza said.

“‘People are going to try to rewrite history and say we didn’t have a message in this campaign,’ Kerry told his staff, according to one Democratic strategist. ‘And, let me tell you, the message never changed. The message we had in the final days of the campaign was the same as the one we had in the primaries.’

“That was news to some of the boozy Kerry revelers. ‘Everyone in that room was on edge because everyone wanted to know: What was that message?’ says the strategist.”

Going ‘nuclear’

“Whither the filibuster?” Andrew C. McCarthy writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Quite apart from the contentiousness over whether Sen. Arlen Specter assumes the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrats’ principal tactic for blocking judicial nominees during President Bush’s first term is also receiving a good deal of post-election attention in the wake of the Republicans’ four-seat net gain in the upper chamber.

“Of greatest interest now is: Will the GOP go nuclear?” said Mr. McCarthy, who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others and is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“The question is especially pertinent after Sen. Bill Frist spoke at the annual Federalist Society convention in Washington last week. The Senate majority leader indicated that he is inclined to support the so-called ‘nuclear option,’ in which the Senate — now with a more muscular Republican margin of 55 to 45 (44 Democrats plus one independent) — would vote to change its procedural rules so that a simple majority (51 senators), rather than the current supermajority (60), would be required to bring a nominee’s name to the floor for a decisive vote.

“Had such a rule been in effect for the last four years, it is a good bet that all of the Bush nominees would long ago have been confirmed and sitting on various federal appellate courts throughout the nation. Thus, a GOP push for such a new rule entails certain political risk: Democrats and their mainstream media allies would scream bloody murder.

“Nevertheless, the new rule appears attainable right now, and here again Sen. Specter is in the eye of the storm. He has been a sharp critic of the filibuster. Although the senator is sometimes wont to line up with other ‘moderate’ Republicans to derail legislation favored by conservatives, his stated position on filibusters — coupled with the sudden need to appease conservative critics if he is to realize his desire to chair the Judiciary Committee — means Republicans probably have enough votes to secure the rule change even with expected defections from Senators Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.”

Still waiting

The vote-counting continues in Washington state, where two weeks after the election nobody knows who will be the next governor.

As of Monday night, Democratic state Attorney General Christine Gregoire led by just 158 votes out of 2.8 million cast, after a week of trailing Republican real estate agent Dino Rossi. Mrs. Gregoire had 1,360,871 votes to Mr. Rossi’s 1,360,713, the Associated Press reports.

Across the state, about 22,000 votes remained to be counted. Of the six counties with the most votes outstanding, three favor Mr. Rossi and three Mrs. Gregoire.

“Washington voters have come to expect to wait for returns,” said Bobbie Egan, King County elections spokeswoman. “Counting absentee ballots just takes a long time.”

Shout it out loud

Backstage at Sunday’s American Music Awards, Gene Simmons — notorious tongue-wagging bass guitarist for the hard-rock band Kiss — explained why he was among the more than 60 million Americans who voted to re-elect President Bush: “In time of war, if you go through a bad neighborhood, I don’t want a little French poodle, I want a Rottweiler on my hands.”

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

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