- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

So long, ACT

“We’re surprised by how little fanfare there’s been for what apparently is the demise of ACT, the Democratic 527 that was supposed to be the Get-Out-The-Vote vehicle in 2004,” Hotline’s Chuck Todd writes at NationalJournal.com.

“Its failure wasn’t because of money — it was because of mindset. ACT did everything it could to win the 2000 election in 2004, but it never focused on actually winning the 2004 election and reacting to the Republicans,” Mr. Todd said.

“In the long run, ACT’s failure may turn out to be a net plus for the Democrats, as the party will know what not to do. Think about this: The state on which ACT modeled its 2004 efforts (Iowa in 2002) was lost to the Republicans in 2004.”

Target A

“Karl Rove certainly doesn’t act like a guilty man,” Byron York writes in National Review.

“Caught in the middle of the ‘Plamegate’ leak investigation, accused of ‘smearing’ Bush critic Joseph Wilson and ‘outing’ Wilson’s CIA-agent wife, Valerie Plame, Rove has been going about his normal duties at the White House; people close to him say his daily schedule is packed, as always, with matters like judicial nominations, Social Security, and general White House stuff,” Mr. York said.

“His lawyer tells National Review that Rove has been assured by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he is not a target of the investigation. Rove has testified before the grand jury three times. And he has released any reporter who talked to him about the Plame/Wilson affair from any pledge of confidentiality.

“It’s not exactly the profile of a man with something to hide. Yet in spite of it all, Rove has emerged as Target A of the coalition of Democratic lawmakers, liberal pundits, and left-wing activists who have decided that Plamegate is their best shot — for now, at least — at the Bush administration. And they’ve been taking that shot, over and over and over. Harry Reid, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, Paul Krugman, MoveOn.org — they’re all in the fight.

“At times, the rhetoric has become slightly surreal. ‘The bottom line is, there’s a traitor in the White House who betrayed America and the war on terror right under George Bush’s nose,’ former Al Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said on CNN recently. He was referring to Rove. Executives at the liberal radio network Air America liked the phrase ‘traitor in the White House’ so much that they created an anti-Rove fundraising campaign around it. And one of the network’s hosts recently asked New Jersey Democratic senator Frank [R.] Lautenberg, ‘Karl Rove is guilty of treason, isn’t he?’ Lautenberg said, ‘Yes, I think so.’ ”

Iowa tourists

Two likely Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to meet with Iowa party activists in August, even though Gov. Tom Vilsack is among those who may seek the 2008 nomination, the Des Moines Register reports.

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana plans to make his first trip to Iowa since the 2004 election next week while former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina plans to visit the state for the third time since the election, reporter Thomas Beumont said.

Mr. Bayh is scheduled to make a three-day swing that includes a stop in Des Moines, where he plans to meet party activists and headline a fundraiser Tuesday for Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, Iowa Democrat.

Mr. Bayh also plans to visit the Waterloo area, where he is expected to meet with Black Hawk County Democrats on Wednesday before leaving Iowa from Des Moines on Thursday, aides said.

Bell’s bid

A vocal critic of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay announced in an e-mail to supporters yesterday that he will challenge Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2006.

Democrat Chris Bell was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 but lost his seat to Democrat Al Green last year after his district was redrawn.

Mr. Bell is best known for accusing Mr. DeLay of ethical violations. Mr. DeLay, a Republican, was instrumental in the Republican-led Texas congressional redistricting effort that resulted in Mr. Bell’s defeat.

Although Mr. DeLay was admonished by the House, Mr. Bell was criticized for exaggerating supposed misconduct by the Republican leader.

Mr. Bell has been exploring a campaign for governor for months but has struggled so far to gain firm footing in a state dominated by Republicans.

Vacationer cleared

A review board of the U.N. Development Program found this week that the employee who took two months’ accumulated vacation time last autumn to volunteer for the John Kerry presidential campaign did not technically violate any personnel regulations, but did exercise “a lapse in judgment.”

Anonymous whistleblowers complained that Justin Leitis, editor of the program’s internal Web site, had acted as the political director for the Maine campaign, compromising UNDP’s political impartiality and potentially putting at risk employees in the field. They also suggested that his work was part of a larger U.N. conspiracy to see the Democrats return to power.

Former UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown, who has since become the chief of staff to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has said he was not informed of Mr. Leitis’ activities.

“There is no evidence you were allowed or encouraged by the UNDP Administrator to work for the Kerry-Edwards campaign and influence the election,” according to a letter sent this week to Mr. Leitis and shown to The Washington Times.

Jan Mattsson, UNDP assistant administrator and director of the Bureau of Management, urged Mr. Leitis, an American who had previously worked as a State Department speechwriter, to avoid similar situations in the future.

Hillary’s choice

John G. Roberts Jr.’s “Supreme Court nomination could be a wonderful chance for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to have a ‘Sister Souljah moment’ — to defy liberal activists by voting for him in a classic move from the Bill Clinton playbook,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“A turning point in the 1992 presidential race came when Bill Clinton blasted the anti-white rapper Sister Souljah. Ever since, Democrats have talked up the need for a ‘Sister Souljah moment’ to show they’ve got the guts to stand up to interest groups,” Miss Orin said.

“So far, Sen. Clinton is playing it coy and careful. ‘I don’t think she knows yet [whether she’ll support Judge Roberts]. She’s not going to speculate on this until the [confirmation] hearing,’ says her longtime adviser, Harold Ickes.”

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

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