- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Left-wing network

The left is starting to construct a network of activists, think tanks, public relations gurus and powerful media allies to counter the conservative message machine, liberal leaders said yesterday at a national conference here.

“We’re finally building the beginning … of an infrastructure that can begin to compete,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, sponsor of the “Take Back America” conference.

Mr. Borosage said conservatives spent 30 years building and coordinating think tanks, activists, grass-roots networks and powerful media alliances that have made Republicans “the powerhouse they are now.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, pointed to repeal of the estate tax as an example of how Republicans used their network.

Mrs. Schakowsky said President Bush first changed the name of estate tax to “death tax.” Next, Republican lawmakers made speeches condemning the death tax. And, finally, media allies such as Rush Limbaugh and The Washington Times got the message out to the public about the death tax, she said.

Mr. Borosage praised liberals for creating organizations such as the Center for American Progress, Institute for America’s Future, Center for Wisconsin Strategy and Moveon.org; magazines such as the Nation and the American Prospect; new media ventures such as Air America and Democracy Radio, and Web sites such as Alternet.

Oh, happy day

Christine Todd Whitman, the liberal Republican former governor of New Jersey, hails the victory of “radical moderates” in the Senate and predicts the demise of the social conservative movement.

“It’s risky to predict what current events will become historical turning points, but I’m willing to take a chance on this one,” Mrs. Whitman said in a letter to The Washington Post published yesterday.

“Years from now, students and analysts of American political life will point to May 23, 2005, as the day ‘radical moderates’ took a stand and began to recapture the sensible center of U.S. politics. The 14 Republican and Democratic senators who came together to avert the detonation of the ‘nuclear option’ over judicial nominations are owed a much greater debt of gratitude than many people yet realize.”

Mrs. Whitman added: “History one day will reflect that the high-water mark of the ‘social conservative’ movement in this country came two months ago with the Terri Schiavo case, when a vocal and organized minority persuaded Congress to intervene. Most Americans did not support that intrusion. History also will record that the tide began to turn just eight weeks later, as radical moderates flexed their political muscles to return the sensible center in American politics to its rightful place.”

Jeb and his dad

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday brushed off his father’s public suggestions that he should run for president — and that he secretly wants to do so.

The popular two-term governor, who has repeatedly and sometimes testily said he won’t run for president in 2008, was asked yesterday morning about the remarks made by his father, former President George H.W. Bush, on Tuesday’s edition of CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

“Oh, Lord,” the governor said. Laughing and shaking his head, he said: “I love my dad.”

Asked if he is running, the younger Bush simply shook his head no, the Associated Press reports.

Former President Bush had said the night before that he would like to see the Florida governor run for the White House.

“Someday I would, yes,” said the elder Mr. Bush, who turns 81 this month. He said Jeb Bush would be “awfully good” as president.

“This guy’s smart, big and strong,” he said of his son. “Makes the decisions. And you know, not without controversy, but he’s led that state.”

The elder Bush said “the timing’s wrong” because Jeb Bush has said “he doesn’t want to do it.” But the former president then added: “Nobody believes that.”

Jeb Bush will end his second term as governor in January 2007. Because of the state’s term limits, he cannot run for re-election.

Early backing

The limited-government advocacy group Club for Growth, led by former Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Toomey, yesterday made what it said is its earliest-ever endorsement in a House race, backingNevada state Rep. Sharron Angle.

Mrs. Angle is one of several candidates seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. House seat in Nevada being vacated by conservative Rep. Jim Gibbons, who is running for governor.

The club decided to shun Mr. Gibbons’ wife, former state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, who also is seeking the seat. Unlike her husband, “she is a liberal who has a record of supporting tax increases,” Mr. Toomey told Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times.

“This early endorsement is a new policy decision I’ve implemented to get involved in races very early, when it makes sense,” Mr. Toomey said. “It allows us to start raising money for the candidate when it can most count and to shape the candidate field.”

History lesson

President Bush yesterday dodged a reporter’s question in an entirely new way: He gave the South African president a history lesson instead.

Asked about the revelation that former FBI official W. Mark Felt, 91, was “Deep Throat” during the Watergate scandal, the president turned to Thabo Mbeki and said: “You know, there was an interesting revelation yesterday, Mr. President, about a news story — a massive news story that took place when I was a pretty young guy. And to those of us who … got out of college in the late ‘60s, the Watergate story was a relevant story, and a lot of us have always wondered who Deep Throat might have been. And the mystery was solved yesterday.”

The South African president did not appear enraptured by the tale, but did nod to show he was paying attention.

When the reporter restated her question, asking Mr. Bush if he thought Deep Throat was a hero or a villain, Mr. Bush replied: “It’s hard for me to judge. I’m learning more about the situation. It’s a brand-new story for a lot of us who have been wondering a long time who it was. … You weren’t even born during that period.”

Rules for bloggers

The Federal Election Commission is considering new rules establishing televisionlike regulations for paid political messages on the Internet.

The FEC, the government’s watchdog on election law, has drafted rules that would demand the purchasers of political advertisements on Web sites be displayed, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

The proposals also would have bloggers disclose whether they receive funds from a campaign committee or candidate, the newspaper said. The rules, as written, would not apply to people operating sites that don’t accept funding from political action committees or parties.

The FEC has set a deadline of tomorrow for public comment on the proposals and will have a public hearing June 28-29. A final version of the proposal is expected before the end of the year, the Tribune said.

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

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