- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2005

Selective siesta

A Washington lawyer logging myriad miles in his work with policy allies across the pond tells this column of having opened a few eyes at a recent dinner in Madrid with “an all-star cast of Spain’s government-in-waiting, Jose Maria Aznar’s Popular Party.”

Conversation skidded to a halt, he says, at his passing reference — widely reported in the U.S. press, but apparently because of its nature failing to draw attention from the Spanish press — to the curious inability of Spain’s Socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, to get someone on the telephone line at the White House.

“They were stunned,” the D.C. lawyer says.

Beginning in November, or so American press reports have it, Mr. Zapatero has dialed in to the White House regularly. This is ostensibly to congratulate a re-elected president whom Mr. Zapatero otherwise rails against throughout Europe for an “illegal war” in Iraq.

President Bush, who happens to understand Espanol and maybe has caught an eyeful of Mr. Zapatero’s musings, has been otherwise occupied when the phone rings.

Mr. Zapatero, of course, is most famous with the White House for abruptly withdrawing Spain’s troops from the Iraq coalition upon his surprise March 2004 victory, attributed by most to a terrorist attack in Madrid days before the election.

He has since pressured the European Union to be kind to Fidel Castro, and sold arms to the Cuban leader’s Marxist protege who is exporting trouble in our Southern back yard, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Notwithstanding such peccadilloes, Mr. Zapatero persists “presumably to mask how badly he has damaged what was an historically strong relationship” fostered by his predecessor, Mr. Aznar, the lawyer says.

Although of no avail and nothing the White House likes to discuss, this has led to much derision in Los Estados Unidos.

Yet, “this only came up due to a full-court PR press that very week by Zapatero’s team that all was muy bueno with Washington and hinting at a meeting with Bush in the near future. Que ridiculoso,” says our lawyer, who prefers to keep his name and face out of our column.

When all else fails

An Arizona Republican is pulling no punches with President Bush and Uncle Sam when analyzing the deployment of Minutemen along his state’s border with Mexico.

“What the Minutemen proved to the American people was this: The federal government can do something about illegal immigration other than to raise a white flag and surrender to the invasion on our southern border,” says Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a member of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

The congressman says he recently visited with Minuteman Project volunteers posted at strategic locations along the border, there to help federal authorities spot illegal border crossings, “and I was amazed by their discipline, their resolve and the results they achieved.”

“These are extraordinary Americans from all walks of life who followed their constitutional right to petition their government for redress of a grievance, in this case the abject failure of the federal government to secure our borders,” Mr. Hayworth says.

Illegal immigrants, he adds, weren’t the Minutemen’s biggest headache.

“[T]hey were maligned far and wide by hysterical editorial writers,” says the congressman, “and the presidents of the United States and Mexico.”

Reforming reform

So much for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — or so says one top Republican congressman who finds it “rampant with regulations and penalties that hinder free speech.”

House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana says his proposed 527 Fairness Act would bring more freedom and fairness to the campaign process, while leveling the playing field and restoring political parties, federal campaigns, candidates and citizens groups to their “rightful place” in the political system.

He noted in recent testimony on Capitol Hill that the competing groups Swiftboat Veterans for Truth and MoveOn.org dominated the 2004 presidential campaign airwaves, “leaving political parties, political action committees and the personal campaigns of George Bush and John Kerry with very little control over their philosophical messages.”

So, he proposes removing and repealing many of the regulations of the 2002 act that stifle political parties, so that they “can return to their rightful place in the political process.”

“And while this liberty may be a bit more chaotic and inconvenient for some in the political class, as Thomas Jefferson said, ‘I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.’ ”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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