- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

On the couch

“Has there ever been a political party so prone to adolescent crises of insecurity as the Democrats?” Walter Shapiro asks in a commentary in the Los Angeles Times.

“After every dispiriting election, the Democrats turn themselves into a desperate high school suitor, begging a would-be prom date: ‘Tell me who you want me to be. I promise I’ll change.’

“Now the Democrats face the bleak prospect of controlling no governmental entity larger than the state of Illinois, unless, of course, liberals still consider Bush buddy Tony Blair an honorary member of their downwardly mobile party. In the weeks since the election, the Democrats have yet again updated their version of the Book of Lamentations,” Mr. Shapiro said.

The writer said that eight candidates for Democratic National Committee chairman recently attended a party gathering in Florida and “pandered to the sentiment that the Democrats were on the wrong side of history, moral values and, yes, God’s grace.”

Mr. Shapiro added: “The panic is overstated. The crisis the Democrats face is primarily one of self-confidence. After three decades on the analyst’s couch, Democrats should have learned that conservative Republican certainty trumps the plaintive appeals of a party that seems embarrassed by its own principles.”

Cornyn’s view

“At every new year, Americans traditionally reflect on the past, identify problems that need fixing, and adopt New Year’s resolutions,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, writes at National Review Online (www.national review.com).

“In that same spirit, the Senate needs a New Year’s resolution to fix its broken process for considering the president’s judicial nominees. To do so, however, we must first recognize that liberal interest groups in Washington have prevented the Senate from confirming several of this president’s judicial nominees for one simple reason: They just don’t want judges who will just apply the law as written,” Mr. Cornyn said.

“These liberal interest groups want judges who will redefine marriage and condemn the Boy Scouts, expel the military from college campuses and purge the public square of expressions of faith. They want courts to ignore the three-strikes-and-you’re-out law and give lenient sentences to convicted criminals, block school-choice programs designed to expand educational opportunities to minority communities, and require better treatment for terrorists than for ordinary Americans accused of a crime. They want judicial activists who believe that our civil rights are violated anytime a public-school teacher recites the Pledge of Allegiance, a county clerk issues a wedding license only to the union of one man and one woman, a terrorist is denied access to cookware or athletic equipment, or a Boy Scout troop is allowed onto a military base.

“These groups want judges who will impose their agenda on the nation by judicial fiat — regardless of what the American people have said at the ballot box. And they will do anything to oppose judges who will not blindly rule in their favor.

“The commencement of a new Congress this week provides the perfect opportunity for senators to resolve to reform the judicial-confirmation process. An important first step in reform, however, is recognizing that these liberal interest groups have invented a series of double standards to defeat this president’s judicial nominees. The Senate must resolve to reject these absurd double standards and restore fair and traditional standards in the coming year.”

Unhappy conservative

The chairman of the American Conservative Union yesterday denounced the failure of the Republican House Conference to adopt rules proposed by the conservative Republican Study Committee that would have made federal spending more difficult.

“The rules changes proposed by the Study Committee were conservative, common-sense measures,” David A. Keene said. “While the House leadership has talked a good game about putting the brakes on spending, this was a missed opportunity to take concrete actions to back up the rhetoric.”

Mr. Keene added: “Conservatives across America are growing increasingly impatient with Republicans spending like Democrats. Many voters now may be experiencing buyer’s remorse for making the GOP the majority party in Congress. In the aftermath of this failure, grass-roots conservatives will be paying close attention to see if Republican leaders now carry though on their public pledge to control spending.”

New Hampshire news

“And, finally, in our ‘08 roundup, we have this nugget on John Edwards from one of our best New Hampshire sources,” John Mercurio writes in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

“‘Word has it that John Edwards has been making calls to NH Democrats already, starting with the state senators just before the holidays,’ this source said. ‘And he will be the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 100 Club dinner in Manchester on Feb. 5. He also sent Christmas cards to activists around the state. Looks like the 2008 N.H. primary is under way.’”

Feingold’s tour

“Keep a lookout for Sen. Russ Feingold, the second half of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance duo, who just won a third term from Wisconsin voters,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“He’s on a nationwide mission to test out his progressive message that’s liberal on some issues, like universal health care, and conservative on others, like the deficit. Fans think he can bridge the blue-state-red-state divide, making him not just a voice for a changing Democratic Party but a possible ‘08 presidential candidate,” Mr. Bedard said.

“He’s not the only one: Republicans are keeping an eye on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s on his own message tour.”

Music critic

A high school band’s performance of an Elvis Presley hit during the Wisconsin state Senate’s inaugural ceremony has drawn a complaint from a newly elected member because it included a version of “Dixie.”

The Richland Center High School band played a version of “An American Trilogy” at the Capitol in Madison on Monday — a song that mixes “Dixie” with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the spiritual “All My Trials.”

State Sen. Spencer Coggs, who is black, said he was shocked to hear the strains of the Southern anthem and complained in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz, the Associated Press reports.

“Whether the slight was intentional or not, the selection was not appropriate,” he wrote. “It is unfortunate that this special day was marred by such an unnecessary event.”

Mr. Schultz said he wasn’t aware of every musical selection the band prepared for the event and said he would apologize. “If Sen. Coggs felt offended, I would want to extend my hand in apology,” he said.

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

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