- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Flip-floppers

“The sore-loser set has been complaining that the president has banished healthy internal dissent,” New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

“Darryl Zanuck’s classic line to quavering executives has been evoked, ‘Don’t say yes until I finish talking!’

“But wait: that was before a minority of a hundred or so members of Congress, basing their stand on the testimony of the nation’s five most senior military officers, refused to say yes to the private lobbying juggernaut set up by the disbanded 9/11 commission. This group had already brought the media, the congressional leadership and finally the president to their knees,” Mr. Safire said.

“The principled refusal of two House committee chairmen to be steamrollered into hasty passage of a pre-election-driven bill has flipped the previous bashing of the supposedly domineering Bush 180 degrees.

“Now the party line is: ‘Whatsamatter, W., you can’t whip these right-wingers of yours into line? The Establishment has decreed that our intelligence operations will be reorganized now, quick, before the new Congress takes the oath and holds further hearings. Why can’t you force your generals and your saluting solons to get with the program? Where’s Tom (the Hammer) DeLay when we need him?’

“That’s quite a flip-flop.’”

Bye-bye, Dan

“CBS anchor Dan Rather’s discharge under less than honorable circumstances is the icing on the 2004 election cake for a lot of Republicans who see him as the icon of liberal media bias,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“It’s also a dramatic sign of the Internet-fueled revolution that means the old ‘mainstream media,’ such as CBS and the New York Times, can no longer set the terms of political debate as it did just a few years ago. CBS tried, but failed, to dismiss challenges to Democrat John Kerry’s Vietnam War service from the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Internet helped the group make its case,” Miss Orin said.

“Now Rather is going out in ignominy because of his ‘60 Minutes’ report using fabricated memos from a discredited source to question President Bush’s National Guard service.”

Rather like Nixon

“To the end, Gunga Dan liked to play the part of the crusading journalist, a regular reporter just digging up the facts,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“That was his TV persona. In real life, his hubris made him more like Richard Nixon than Walter Cronkite. And like Nixon, the coverup was his downfall,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“The CBS announcement that Dan Rather will give up his anchor chair in March made zero mention of Rathergate, the big-time blunder in which he used fake documents to charge that President Bush got favored treatment in the National Guard 30 years ago.

“I guess we’re supposed to believe it was mere coincidence that Rather is packing even before the network’s probe is released. Or we’re supposed to believe that, as Rather claimed, he and his bosses had been discussing his retirement over the summer.

“Whatever. The fact-fudging was perfectly consistent with the dishonest way CBS handled the story from Day One.”

The columnist added: “It was all so, well, Nixonian: Accuse your critics of partisanship and wrap yourself in the flag. A younger Rather had a famous run-in with Nixon, but apparently he learned something from the disgraced president. Tricky Dick became Tricky Dan.”

No scapegoats

President Bush’s re-election means the neoconservatives “will not now be able to escape accountability,” Pat Buchanan writes at www.theamericancause.com. “They will not be able to blame a President Kerry for losing Iraq.”

“What is happening in Washington today is that those who were skeptical of the Iraq war and warned the White House against going in are being purged. And those who assured President Bush it would be a cakewalk … are being promoted. Those who were wrong are being advanced, and those who were right are being dismissed,” Mr. Buchanan said.

“This appears politically unjust, but it is in a way healthy. For, should Iraq turn out to be a triumph, the war party will have been proven right — and deserve whatever credit there is. But should Iraq collapse in chaos and civil war, and be judged to have been an act of imperial hubris and historic folly, they will now be held fully accountable. All the scapegoats are gone. We have political clarity.”

Spending restraint

“With Congress’ completion of its work on the 2005 budget this week, President Bush and congressional leaders have achieved a significant victory in the battle for spending discipline in Washington,” Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said yesterday in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

“When the president released his fiscal 2005 budget in February calling for a disciplined budget, some politicians and pundits dismissed it as ‘dead on arrival.’ They warned that its spending limits could not be met or would require devastating reductions in key priorities. They were wrong,” Mr. Bolten said.

“To the credit of key leaders, the Congress stayed within budget limits and met key priorities. While the appropriations bills are not perfect, they honor the goals President Bush set last February: overall discretionary spending in fiscal 2005 will rise only 4 percent, the same as the average increase in American family income. The budget also provides substantial increases in funding for essential defense and homeland security needs.

“Just as the president proposed, discretionary spending for non-security programs will rise only about 1 percent, which is half the rate of inflation and the lowest rate of growth since the Republicans first took control of Congress in the mid-1990s.”

Governor to teach

For those who want to learn how to run a state blessed with spectacular scenery but troubled by low per-capita income, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will teach them how.

Mr. Richardson will add to his duties as governor by teaching an honors class at the University of New Mexico beginning next spring called “How New Mexico government works: The key players and the key issues.”

“I enjoy teaching, and look forward to the opportunity to engage students in a productive discussion about the issues that matter most to New Mexicans,” said Mr. Richardson, adding that classes will cover topics such as education, health care and creating high-wage jobs.

Mr. Richardson, a Democrat who served in the Cabinet of President Clinton, approached the university about the class, Reuters news agency reports. It is planned for 100 students, but may expand, depending on demand, said Rosalie Otero, who directs the university’s honors program.

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

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