- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2005

Reid’s fund-raiser

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader in the Senate, puzzled many in Washington when he loudly complained about a Republican National Committee e-mail that said his voting record was much more liberal than most Nevadans realized.

Mr. Reid, who began his tenure as minority leader by questioning the intelligence of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, denounced the Republican e-mail as a personal attack.

But Mr. Reid’s supposed anger over the usual rough-and-tumble of Washington politics may have had the usual motivation: raising money.

Mr. Reid, in an e-mail addressed to Friends of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), said:

“All this week, you’ve been hearing about how the Republicans are launching cheap personal attacks against me despite George Bush’s hollow promises of bipartisanship. Don’t worry about me. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a former boxer, and I am prepared to fight back — hard — against the dishonest attacks and stand up for our core Democratic values.

“Make no mistake. It’s only going to get worse. If this is how they treat me after only a few weeks on the job, imagine what they’ll do to our Senate candidates in 2006. It is vital that we build our campaign war chest early in order to make sure that Democrats have the money, research and grass-roots organization they need to control the national debate and win in 2006 and beyond. Your financial contribution is needed today.”

Frist and Dean

Just don’t say no.

That’s the advice Senate Republican leader Bill Frist gave to Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, failed presidential candidate, and newly elected Democratic National Committee chairman.

“Whether it’s Social Security or whether it’s the president’s Cabinet nominees, please, to Dr. Dean and his party, don’t say ‘no’ to everything,” Mr. Frist said on “Fox News Sunday.”

After a tough election year, the Tennessee Republican said Americans “want us to govern with meaningful solutions.”

Mr. Dean has told fellow Democrats that, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” a comment Mr. Frist described as “disappointing.”

“It doesn’t mean the parties aren’t sharp and they’re not aggressive in defending their principles. But [the American people] want us to govern. And I don’t think that having a Democratic leader saying they hate everybody is going to feed into that,” Mr. Frist said.

The Democratic Party is “very divided right now” and “trying to feel their way along,” but Mr. Frist said he was surprised by Saturday’s vote putting a far-left liberal in charge of the party.

Tennessee titan

The Democrats have noticed that senators and Northeasterners don’t do especially well in presidential elections. That has led to some talk of running a governor from the South in 2008, but Southern Democratic governors are in short supply,” Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Of those who remain, my governor, Phil Bredesen [of Tennessee], is starting to get some attention. A while back, the Economist called him a governor with a CEO approach. And the New Republic recently made him the subject of a cover story focusing on his ability to win over the opposition. But should he decide to run for president in 2008, his biggest problems may come from his fellow Democrats,” said Mr. Reynolds, publisher of InstaPundit.com and a law professor at the University of Tennessee.

“Right now he’s well-liked, having replaced an unpopular Republican governor who made repeated efforts to pass a state income tax. Those efforts provoked near-riots as anti-tax protesters mobbed the Capitol (one man brought a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers), and the income tax died a painful death. That, however, left Tennessee with serious financial problems. Education — especially higher education — was underfunded, and the TennCare health insurance program, a sort of HillaryCare-lite, was devouring the state budget.

“Gov. Bredesen met the problems head-on, with 9 percent across-the-board spending cuts and a novel approach: He said what he was going to do, and then he did it. His first fiscal year ended with the state in surplus, and the ‘rainy day fund’ is at its highest level in history.”

But Mr. Bredesen may face opposition from fellow Democrats if he runs for president in 2008, Mr. Reynolds said.

“The state income tax has long been a holy grail for the urban part of Tennessee’s Democratic Party; Gov. Bredesen isn’t pushing it. Meanwhile, his TennCare reforms are angering people who don’t want to see benefits cut, and he is waging all-out war against the public-interest lawyers who have turned to the courts, over and over again, to block efforts to shrink TennCare rolls or lower benefits.”

Blaming Bush

“ABC’s Peter Jennings personalized North Korea’s boast that it has nuclear missiles as he asserted Thursday night that the communist regime ‘says it has manufactured nuclear weapons for self-defense against the Bush administration,’ not against the U.S. as the other networks characterized it,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Jennings soon repeated how ‘the Koreans said today they had nuclear weapons to defend themselves against the Bush administration,’ and he insisted that ‘analysts’ wondered ‘what has the Bush administration done, if anything, to incite this kind of talk?’

“CBS’s David Martin asserted that ‘experts say it’s North Korea’s way of telling the Bush administration what it thinks of the new secretary of state, who called the North “an outpost of tyranny,’ ” but CNN’s David Ensor maintained that ‘analysts in and out of government see North Korea’s latest pronouncement as an effort to stave off what Kim Jong-il knows will be intense pressure from the United States and from China to negotiate away its weapons program.’

“The North Korean regime’s English statement did declare that they ‘have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration’s ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle’ North Korea, but the fact the statement also contained the following nonsense, which the networks skipped over, did not dissuade Jennings and others from treating the slap at the Bush administration as any less credible: ‘This is nothing but a far-fetched logic of gangsters as it is a good example fully revealing the wicked nature and brazen-faced double-dealing tactics of the U.S. as a master hand at plot-breeding and deception.’ ”

Blogs branch out

“Convinced that Internet weblogs, or blogs, helped defeat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and out Dan Rather’s bad reporting on President Bush’s National Guard duty, House and Senate Republicans are scrambling to put them on their government Web pages,” Paul Bedard reports in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

” ‘Senators want them even though they don’t know what they are,’ says a strategist helping several GOP senators develop the chat and news pages.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202.636-3285 or [email protected]m.

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