- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

1, 2 cha-cha-cha

Those eager to determine whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is preparing a 2008 run for the White House often chart her fancy footwork: Is the New York Democrat sidestepping to the right to appeal to more voters? Is she promenading to the center?

But some are warning Mrs. Clinton to avoid the traditional-values dance after she complained about Grand Theft Auto, a violent video game with a hidden sex scene — prompting enough hubbub to warrant a federal investigation.

Her “ambush” does not bode well for Democrats, noted the Village Voice’s Joshuah Bearman yesterday.

“No one likes a finger-wagging Democrat. It failed for Tipper Gore, it failed for her husband’s running mate, Joe Lieberman, and it will fail for Hillary Clinton,” he writes.

“If we wanted to have our knuckles rapped in Washington, we already have the GOP. And as much as righteous indignation is often at the center of their rhetoric, it doesn’t always make great political hay for the Republicans, either — all the endless moralizing is how culture-war conservatives consistently overplay their hand among moderate Republicans and independents who don’t want evangelical ethics legislated into their lives.

“That hasn’t stopped the Democrats from making the same mistake, as an entire chorus chimed in to back Clinton. It’s a fundamentally flawed approach: Why steal the other guys’ least attractive tactics — only to be second best at them?” Mr. Bearman asked.

Ed & John unleashed

Not everyone is elated over Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s announcement yesterday that she will run for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat in New York against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ed Cox — a Manhattan lawyer and son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon — has been drumming up support for his own campaign against Mrs. Clinton for months. He had only a few terse words for his new rival.

“Ms. Pirro’s limited record and her positions on the issues will prevent her from motivating Republican and conservative voters. That is simply a recipe for a resounding defeat,” Mr. Cox noted yesterday.

“Jeanine Pirro is as liberal as Hillary Clinton, and she offers no contrast,” observed former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, who is also in the running for the Republican nomination.

Christian revolution

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is vexed by a recent call to Americans to “vote Christian in 2008” by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who also sent his followers “I Vote Christian” bumper stickers.

In a fundraising letter, Mr. Falwell wrote that he hoped “to utilize the momentum of the sweeping conservative mandate of the November 2, 2004, elections to maintain a faith and values revolution of voters who will continue to go to the polls to ‘vote Christian’ and call America back to God.”

The ADL took issue with the idea yesterday.

“Reverend Falwell’s recent statements are directly at odds with the American ideal and should be rejected,” said director Abraham Foxman. “Understanding the danger of combining religion and politics, our Founding Fathers wisely created a political system based on individual merit and religious inclusiveness.”

Mr. Foxman advised Mr. Falwell to “retract his divisive and un-American call to action. Appeals to voters should not be on the basis of religion, nor should a candidate’s religious beliefs be a litmus test for public office.”

Jennings on record

Along with issuing a gracious statement of praise for the late ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, the Media Research Center also noted yesterday that it has tracked the liberal bias of Mr. Jennings for years.

“But on this day after his passing, we’ll focus on how a couple of times he acknowledged the media’s liberal tilt,” noted analyst Brent H. Baker.

Consulting archives, Mr. Baker found two occasions.

On Oct. 11, 2002, Mr. Jennings told Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart: “I think sometimes it’s a problem, and I think there are more conservatives and more conservative views being part of the public dialogue today than there were 10 or 15 years ago. You know when I started in this racket, to go off and save the world and tell the truth was a liberal instinct.”

On April 2, 2004, Mr. Jennings told CNN’s Larry King he felt a “strange ambiguity” because life was improving for the people of Iraq “and the U.S. influence in Iraq is having, in many ways, a very significant influence. Our focus on the loss of American soldiers and now civilians on a sometimes almost daily basis, it gets so intense, somewhat I think overshadows what has been happening, in more general terms, in restructuring or structuring the country.”

Mum’s the word

Despite ample friends in Hollywood and the news media, Democrats have yet to craft a compelling public message, it seems.

The party is “missing potential marketing opportunities to convert red states into blue states,” according to Ira Teinowitz of Advertising Age yesterday.

“Democrats are clearly not making the sale,” Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute said. “If you look at the polls, people don’t see where the Democrats stand.”

“Insiders and observers said a major stumbling block is disagreement over the effectiveness of ads so far away from an election and whether funding is better spent during election years,” Mr. Teinowitz writes.

Others felt the problem was in the Democratic message itself. “Band-Aids, when they need a major operation,” said George Lakoff, a University of California at Los Angeles linguistics professor who wrote “Don’t Think of an Elephant.”

“What Republicans have discovered is that values are central to how people vote. People vote on their identities,” said Mr. Lakoff, advising Democrats to learn how to express their values “in public.”

Karl Agne, a senior adviser to the Democracy Corps, said one key is a unified voice. “It won’t work as long as every voice in every [Democrat appearing] on a Sunday talk show is advancing a different agenda.”

Loose lips

It’s August, it’s slow … but stop the presses, a local woman is now the darling of MoveOn.Org. Mary Thornquist, who lives in Catonsville, Md., has won the group’s hotly contested Karl Rove-bashing slogan-writing contest.

Her motto: “Loose Lips, Pink Slips. Fire Karl Rove.”

The phrase — inspired by reports the White House adviser has discussed the identity of a CIA operative with reporters — will appear on posters meant for loyal liberals who perhaps feel called upon to hang them up, mail them home or perhaps color them in with crayons.

Ms. Thornquist has been a member of the California-based activist group since 1998, when it was founded to persuade the public to forgive then-President Clinton and “move on” past the Monica Lewinsky matter.

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085

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