- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

Republican terrorists

Gary Wills, the liberal writer and history professor at Northwestern University, thinks that the fundamentalist Christians who ensured President Bush’s re-election on Tuesday are a bunch of ignorant religious fanatics — no different, really, than Islamic terrorists — who have done nothing less than end the Enlightenment.

“The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies,” Mr. Wills said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

“Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein’s Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.”

The headline on the article accurately reflected Mr. Wills’ feelings: “The Day the Enlightenment Went Out.”

‘Two Americas’

“It is a confounding time to live in a place like the Bay Area,” Joan Ryan writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Watching the returns Tuesday night and listening to voters across the country, I saw that John Edwards was right about the two Americas. But the two Americas are not divided by money but by belief systems that have drifted so far apart we barely recognize each other anymore. …

“Our belief systems — what is right and wrong, what is patriotic and what is not, what is truth and what is not — are so different and so dramatically shape how we interpret news and information that we seem no longer to be living within the same culture.

“I can’t for the life of me, for instance, figure out how anyone could watch those three presidential debates and even entertain the thought that Bush is qualified to lead the free world.”

Cajun confession

“The Democratic Party, honestly, is in a state of confusion.” — Democratic strategist James Carville, in a Wednesday speech at Robert Morris University in Moon, Pa.

‘A dark day’

MoveOn PAC — the political action committee of the Web site MoveOn.org — collected and spent about $25 million to defeat President Bush and other Republican candidates in 2004, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission report.

“We’ll admit to being heartbroken by the outcome of yesterday’s election,” the PAC’s 23-year-old founder, Eli Pariser, wrote Wednesday in an e-mail message to MoveOn supporters. “It’s a dark day.”

Missing Gephardt

“Maybe John Kerry should have picked as his running mate Rep. [Richard A.] Gephardt, the Missouri populist and friend of organized labor, after all,” Frederic U. Dicker writes in the New York Post, citing Democrats who “laid some of the blame for Kerry’s defeat — and especially his loss in crucial, industrial-oriented Ohio — at the doorstep of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. …

“Longtime Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf said Gephardt ‘would clearly have been the better choice. Gephardt would have appealed to the industrial workers in the Midwest, the very people the Democrats needed to win in Ohio.’ ”

Divide and conquer

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is spitting mad about Tuesday’s election results, accusing President Bush and his supporters of all kinds of moral failings.

“The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn’t want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel,” Miss Dowd writes.

“W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq — drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or ‘values voters’ as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem-cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.”

The perfect storm

“In the end, Massachusetts did come back to haunt John Kerry,” writes Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennoci.

“Just a year ago, justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry. George W. Bush is thanking them today,” she said.

“Unfair it may be, but in the aftermath of defeat, some Democrats directly blame Margaret Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, for creating the perfect storm: unleashing a highly divisive issue that turned out a passionate Republican voter base in critical states just in time for the 2004 presidential election.”

The perfect storm II

“To put it mildly, the plan in Multnomah County [Ore.] to legalize gay marriage backfired,” the Oregonian newspaper editorialized this week after 57 percent of voters approved a constitutional marriage amendment that forbids same-sex “marriage.”

“Earlier this year, county officials conspired in secret to issue same-sex marriage licenses,” the paper said, noting that the county “married” 3,000 homosexual couples before it was stopped by a judge.

County officials “rushed ahead without the public’s advice or consent,” the newspaper said. “Voters didn’t approve.”

Still alive

Bill Sammon, senior White House correspondent for The Washington Times, was poised to ask President Bush a carefully prepared question about the doctrine of pre-emption at yesterday’s presidential press conference.

But then CBS correspondent John Roberts showed Mr. Sammon his Blackberry, which displayed an urgent bulletin from the Associated Press reporting that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had died.

Seconds later, the president called on Mr. Sammon, who decided to scrap his original question in order to spring the news about Mr. Arafat.

“God bless his soul,” Mr. Bush remarked.

A few minutes later, after the president had moved on to other questioners, Mr. Roberts again showed Mr. Sammon his Blackberry, which now displayed a corrected report.

“Looks like he might be still alive after all,” Mr. Roberts said.

“Thanks, John,” Mr. Sammon replied.

A hard sell

“One thing’s very clear: What Democrats are selling, people aren’t buying in large parts of the country.” — Jim Kessler, Democratic strategist, quoted in the Chicago Tribune

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

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