- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Not interested

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said yesterday he is not interested in becoming President Bush’s national intelligence director or homeland security chief, shooting down speculation that he might be under consideration for those jobs.

“I’m not. I appreciate the floating. It’s a quadrennial game here in Washington when a new administration takes shape,” Mr. Lieberman said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000, was a leading congressional negotiator in writing the law that created a national intelligence director.

Mr. Bush needs to replace Tom Ridge, who is leaving the job of homeland security secretary. Mr. Bush’s first choice, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, withdrew.

“I do have some fundamental agreements with President Bush on America’s foreign policy, and I want to give bipartisan support to those elements of the foreign policy, like what we’re doing in Iraq today,” Mr. Lieberman said. “But I think I can do it better in the United States Senate.”

Kerry interview

“I’m not going to lick my wounds or hide under a rock or disappear,” Sen.John Kerry told Newsweek shortly after his presidential-election defeat. The magazine’s latest issue includes a story about that interview.

“I’m going to learn. I’ve had disappointments, and I’ve learned to cope. I’ve lost friends, a marriage. I’ve lost things in life,” the defeated Democratic presidential candidate said on Nov. 11, nine days after the election.

Mr. Kerry had summoned a Newsweek reporter to his house on Boston’s fashionable Beacon Hill to complain about the magazine’s election issue, which he said was unduly harsh and gossipy about him, his staff and his wife. The 45,000-word article, the product of a yearlong reporting project, is being published next week as a book, “Election 2004,” by PublicAffairs.

When asked why he lost the election, Mr. Kerry pointed to history and — in a somewhat inferential, roundabout way — to his own failure to connect with voters — a failure that kept him from erasing the Bush campaign’s portrait of him as a flip-flopper, reports Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas.

Mr. Kerry said that he was proud of his campaign, saying he nearly defeated a popular incumbent who had enjoyed a three-year head start on organizing and fund-raising. Sitting presidents are never defeated in wartime, he insisted.

Though Mr. Kerry did not directly criticize his friend and strategist Bob Shrum, the magazine said he clearly did not feel well-served by his message makers and speechwriters.

“As Thomas left Kerry’s house in November, Kerry called out and followed him down the street,” the magazine said. “Kerry wanted to show a letter from a schoolgirl that had been left on his stoop. The letter read, in part, ‘John Kerry, you’re the greatest!’ Kerry looked into the reporter’s eye. ‘The pundits have never liked me,’ he said. ‘Is it the way I look? The way I sound?’ He seemed vulnerable for a moment, then caught himself, smiled and walked home to his empty house.”

One of Mr. Kerry’s former top aides in the campaign told the magazine, “He thinks he’s the front-runner for ‘08 without recognizing that he needs to do some soul-searching. If he wants to come back, he’ll have to come back as a different candidate, not the stiff who plays it safe and takes four sides of every issue.”

Role reversal

“Today, Republicans are in position to pursue a conservative agenda more sweeping than even [President] Reagan’s,” Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal.

[President] Bush is preparing to propose the partial privatization of Social Security. That’s ground on which Reagan feared to tread. Then Mr. Bush plans to seek simplification of the tax code far beyond what Reagan achieved in 1986. And from there, the agenda turns to curbing trial lawyers, expanding faith-based programs, filling Supreme Court vacancies with conservatives and more,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Where are Democrats? They’re desperately seeking to preserve every government program and benefit enacted since the days of the New Deal. The problem for them is that the New Deal paradigm — the belief that Washington could endlessly improve people’s lives — has lost its appeal. Mr. Bush discovered this the hard way. He pushed a Medicare prescription-drug benefit through Congress in 2003, expecting it to boost his popularity. It didn’t. The program drew disapproving poll numbers. His newer idea of an ‘ownership society’ hasn’t quite replaced the New Deal paradigm, but it has a chance.

“Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are experiencing an extraordinary reversal of roles. Democrats were once the inclusive party of the ‘big tent.’ Republicans now have a bigger tent. Social liberals like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger were prominent speakers at the GOP convention. Social conservatives were virtually nonexistent at the Democratic convention. Democrats have embraced a series of ideological litmus tests on abortion, gay rights, and embryonic stem-cell research. Republicans haven’t.”

The ‘bull’s-eye’

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, warns in a letter that some senators “will be in the ‘bull’s-eye’” if they block President Bush’s judicial nominees.

A letter from Mr. Dobson to supporters of Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based group he founded, suggests that outgoing Senate Minority LeaderTom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, was defeated in November in part for blocking votes on Bush nominees, the Associated Press reports.

“Let his colleagues beware, especially those representing ‘red’ states,” Mr. Dobson says, a reference to states that voted for Mr. Bush. “Many of them will be in the ‘bull’s-eye’ the next time they seek re-election.”

He cites Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.

Mr. Dobson’s letter was sent to 1.2 million members of Focus on the Family Action, an arm of his organization established last year to allow public advocacy that would otherwise threaten the parent group’s tax-exempt status, said Paul Hetrick, a vice president of the parent organization.

No hibernation

Colin L. Powell, who will retire soon as secretary of state, says he has not figured out what he is going to do next.

“I’m still looking at the opportunities that are out there after I retire. I’m sure there will be opportunities to serve in a public way,” Mr. Powell said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I don’t intend to go hibernate for the rest of my life. And so we’ll see what happens. I hope to continue to serve the country in some way in private life,” he added.

Mr. Powell reiterated that he will not seek elective office. He also has no immediate plans to write a book, he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]



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