Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Unfit to print

As if any more proof was needed that the so-called “mainstream media” are out to bring down House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak reported yesterday that the New York Times editorial page tried to solicit an anti-DeLay op-ed piece from former Rep. Bob Livingston.

“On March 24, former congressman Bob Livingston was sent an e-mail by a New York Times editorial-page staffer suggesting he write an op-ed essay,” Mr. Novak said.

“Would Livingston, who in 1998 gave up certain elevation to the position of House speaker because of a sexual affair, write about how House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should now act under fire? In a subsequent conversation, it was made clear that the Times wanted the prominent Republican to say DeLay should step aside for the good of the party.

“Livingston in effect declined by responding that if he wrote anything for the Times, it would be pro-DeLay,” Mr. Novak said. “But this remarkable case of that august newspaper fishing for an op-ed piece makes it appear part of a calculated campaign to bring down the single most powerful Republican in Congress. The Democratic establishment and left-wing activists have targeted DeLay as the way to end a decade of Republican control of the House.”

Out of the loop

John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina and Democratic vice presidential candidate last year, apparently hasn’t been keeping up with the news.

In an interview with New York magazine’s Greg Sargent, Mr. Edwards refers to now-discredited press reports of a talking-points memo said to have been sent to Senate Republican leaders about the supposed political advantages of trying to save Terri Schiavo‘s life.

As this newspaper reported last week, the memo in question came from a staffer in freshman Sen. Mel Martinez‘s office. However, none of the 55 Republican senators responding to a survey by The Washington Times said they had seen it, including Mr. Martinez, Florida Republican. The staffer who wrote it resigned.

The only senator on record as having seen the memo was Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, who said he received it from Mr. Martinez, who in turn said he thought he had given the Democrat an entirely different document.

Here’s the New York magazine item:

Hillary Clinton may be all but declared the 2008 nominee here in New York, but don’t tell John Edwards that. ‘I think talking about a front-runner four years before an election is ridiculous,’ he tells us. Edwards is coming to town this week to give a speech at the New School assailing Bush tax policies, and to visit his daughter, who works at Vanity Fair.

“Now at the University of North Carolina, his voting finger is clearly itchy. We ran through some talking points.

The circus of legislative outrage surrounding Terri Schiavo? ‘We saw the memo that went out to Republican leaders about how they could take political advantage of Terri Schiavo. That’s disgusting. They will pay a price for this in the 2006 and 2008 elections.’

The Democratic acquiescence to the appointments of Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales? ‘I would have voted against them.’

Would you oppose John Bolton as U.N. ambassador? ‘I would.’

The easy passage of tort reform? ‘People have attacked my [trial lawyer] career ever since I’ve been involved in politics. But the attacks never stick. I think people fundamentally believe that those who have been wronged by powerful interests should be able to hold them accountable.’

The reports that you told John Kerry you wouldn’t run against him? ‘The conversations that John Kerry and I have had are personal and private.’”

Battling Byrd

A state Republican Party official and West Virginia National Guard captain yesterday announced he would challenge Sen. Robert C. Byrd in 2006, saying the 87-year-old Democrat leans too far to the left.

Hiram Lewis IV, who served in Kuwait and Iraq, said his candidacy is not a “personal vendetta.”

“Rather, it is simply time for a change,” he said.

The traditionally Democratic state voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004.

“If he had supported the president and the war effort and not allied himself with the liberal left, I believe I wouldn’t be in this Senate race,” said Mr. Lewis, a lawyer and state Republican treasurer. He lost the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV in 2002.

Mr. Lewis, 34, is the first Republican to declare against Mr. Byrd, who was first elected to the Senate in 1958. The Democrat has yet to announce his re-election bid, although he’s raising money for a campaign. His office has said he intends to run.

The unreformed

“Washington state has supplanted Florida as the leading example of the need for election reform,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“The Evergreen State’s voting system is so sloppy that you can’t tell where incompetence ends and actual fraud might begin. Three Washington counties just discovered 110 uncounted absentee ballots — including 93 from Seattle’s King County — in a governor’s race that occurred more than five months ago and was decided by only 129 votes. Officials in Seattle’s King County admit they may find yet more ballots before a court hearing next month on whether a new election should be called. Last Friday, they reported finding a 111th ballot,” Mr. Fund said.

“The infamous 2004 governor’s race was finally decided seven weeks after the election, after King County officials found new unsecured ballots on nine separate occasions during two statewide recounts. After the new ballots were counted, Democrat Christine Gregoire won a 129-vote victory out of some three million ballots cast. Even as she was sworn in last January, King County election supervisor Dean Logan admitted it had been ‘a messy process.’

“He wasn’t kidding. During the two recounts, Mr. Logan’s office discovered 566 ‘erroneously rejected’ absentee ballots, plus another 150 uncounted ones that turned up in a warehouse. Evidence surfaced that dead people had ‘exercised their right to vote’; documentation was presented that 900 felons in King County alone had illegally voted and that military ballots were sent out too late to be counted.”

Not so funny

Thanks to a television comedy show, Rick James says sharing his name with the late funk legend is no laughing matter.

The 53-year-old candidate for a city council post in Hattiesburg, Miss., said the novelty of sharing a name with the late “Super Freak” icon faded quickly when college students started stealing and defacing his campaign signs due to a popular sketch on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show.”

“It’s gotten so bad, I can put out a sign and the next day, sometimes the same day, it will be gone,” Mr. James told the Associated Press. He said signs have been stolen from his front lawn as well.

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

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