- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

Just lunch

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor invited a handful of House Republicans to a private lunch at the court several months ago in an attempt to quell tensions between some members of Congress and federal judges, Newsweek reports.

In a small dining room outside Justice O’Connor’s chambers, the group discussed judicial philosophy over sandwiches and a salad sprinkled with walnuts. “It was just the two branches of government reaching out, trying to keep the lines of communication open,” said Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio Republican, who has been highly critical of judges like Justice O’Connor, who he thinks stray from a strict reading of the Constitution.

It was a second visit to the court for Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, who dined alone with Justice O’Connor last year. Because the justice could not talk about any specific cases — or even controversial issues that might come before her — the conversation had its limits. “We didn’t quite get to the meat of our discussion,” Mr. King told the magazine. “But it opened the dialogue.”

The unusual private sessions suggest that concern over the rising tide of anti-judge rhetoric has rocked even the Supreme Court, Newsweek Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Debra Rosenberg said.

Special target

“The truth is that Tom DeLay is a special target because he is the first legislative power broker to be an authentic Red State conservative,” Jeffrey Bell writes in the Weekly Standard.

“He is an unhyphenated Reaganite: militantly pro-life and pro-values on social issues, a pro-growth tax cutter on economic issues, and an unapologetic, spread-American-values interventionist abroad. In the years since the GOP’s congressional realignment victory of 1994, no other GOP leader in either the House or Senate fully fits this description,” Mr. Bell said.

The writer added: “Since the 2000 election and the accompanying Red State/Blue State polarization, Red State conservatives have grown in strength in tandem with the alternative Red State media: talk and Christian radio, conservative bloggers, Fox News, and all the rest who have put older, Blue State media on notice that they are no longer capable of unilaterally defining the national debate.

“DeLay is the most important of a small but growing group of conservative leaders who are willing and able to operate without permission or praise from Blue State media. The fact that House Speaker Dennis Hastert, DeLay, and their allies have maintained unbroken operational control of the House, never losing a significant floor vote in the four-plus years since Bush became president, has (to put it mildly) opened the door for other ambitious leaders to consider doing the same, either on selected issues or across the board.

“If DeLay goes down because of overseas trips and/or fundraising practices that have never caused the slightest political problem for anyone else, the lesson to other Red State leaders will be clear. The four-year House winning streak, so widely taken for granted among conservatives, will not long survive DeLay. That is why Democrats and Blue State media (despite some half-hearted efforts to depict DeLay as a GOP albatross) so fervently desire his career to end as soon as possible.”

Surprise candidate?

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey is considering entering the New York mayoral race, saying Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has not fought Republican lawmakers who Mr. Kerrey says have hurt the city with tax cuts and reductions in national-security funding.

“I am angry about the way New York City is being treated by Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Kerrey told the New York Times in Sunday editions. “Who is fighting these guys?”

The 1992 Democratic presidential candidate, a former Nebraska senator and governor, said he would decide within a few days whether he will join the crowded Democratic field. He is now president of New School University.

One of Mr. Kerrey’s main criticisms is that Mr. Bloomberg is focusing too much on building a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan, which has been the centerpiece of the mayor’s campaign to attract the 2012 Olympics.

Aides to Mr. Bloomberg said they were surprised by Mr. Kerrey’s comments since he accepted an offer to head “Democrats for Bloomberg.” Mr. Kerrey said he began having second thoughts after accepting the offer.

Proud elitists

“If the Democratic chieftains in Washington really want a window into why heartland residents are tuning out our party, they should stop huddling with loopy linguists from Berkeley like George Lakoff and just start reading Frank Rich‘s commentaries in the New York Times,” Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“There they will find a perfect distillation of the arrogance and narrow-mindedness that typifies the cultural thinking of our elites — and turns off red-state voters. In the view of Mr. Rich and his acolytes, freedom in our culture has been ‘under attack’ ever since 9/11. Indeed, Mr. Rich has argued that this attack is being led by ‘new Puritans’ who want to ‘stamp out’ all that is ‘joyously vulgar’ in American culture and who are fomenting a ‘government war against indecency’ to get the job done.

“Once you get past the absurdity of Mr. Rich’s hyperbole — vulgarity, joyous or otherwise, is hardly in retreat — the implications of this mind-set and the battle lines it establishes are clear. On one side are the forces of freedom, tolerance, diversity, modernity; on the other those of repression, intolerance, conformity and zealotry. And if you’re not exactly enamored of watching titillating stunts and ads at the Super Bowl with your 6-year-old, you’re part of the TV Taliban.”

Mr. Gerstein added: “One can only imagine how insulting our elitism is to the average mother in the exurbs of Georgia or Colorado who might be uncomfortable with open talk of threesomes on ‘Friends’ at 8 p.m. Well, actually, we don’t have to imagine too hard, not after John Kerry openly embraced Hollywood and went on to lose married women voters by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent.”

Mocking Arnold

California Democrats lashed out at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during their annual convention Saturday, vowing to block his administration’s agenda in an extraordinary reversal of good will toward the celebrity governor.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose push for government reforms has enraged labor unions and other traditionally Democratic constituencies, came under withering attack as speaker after speaker chastised his leadership abilities, the Associated Press reports.

“The governor has declared war on the state of California,” Assemblywoman Judy Chu said. “He declared war on us, and I declare war on him.”

Some in the convention hall held signs reading “Stop Arnold’s Arrogance!” while others carried bobblehead dolls depicting the Republican governor in a pink dress with an automatic rifle strapped to his shoulder. A video mocking Mr. Schwarzenegger’s campaign fundraising and fondness for cigars drew laughter from the crowd.

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

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