- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

It’s his war’

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin’s now-historic comment likening U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo to the Nazis, Soviet gulags, Pol Pot — ‘or others’ — was not the worst thing said in recent days about the administration’s Iraq policies,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“All this proved was that Sen. Durbin was looking out the window in the fifth grade when the nuns taught analogies. A similarly tossed-off comment by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, generally regarded as a serious person, was more troubling,” Mr. Henninger said.

“After saying ‘there is rising concern that everything [my emphasis] seems to be going the wrong way’ on Iraq, Sen. Feinstein demanded ‘regular progress reports’ from the president and explained why: ‘It’s his war.’

“His war? I thought it was our war. Welcome to the Vietnamization of the Iraq war. A Vietnamized Iraq war means that whatever may be going on in the infant political life of Iraq, the place has become fair grist for the grinding stones of America’s domestic politics.

“In fairness, Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy was the first to say more than a year ago that ‘Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam.’ Seven months back, some 121 million votes were cast in a national election fought on those terms between George Bush and John Kerry. But now U.S. opinion-poll sentiment, the product of 1,200 phone calls, has finally broken beneath the front-page weight of al-Zarqawi’s daily murders of 0.0001 percent of Iraq’s population.

“Zarqawi has calculated, perhaps correctly, that a hundred tiny Tet offensives can equal one. The effect is the same: The opposition finds a political voice inside the U.S. and begins the process of offloading an ‘unpopular’ war onto the President. Thus, ‘It’s his war.’”

The tax issue

It’s not too soon for President Bush to pivot away from the Social Security issue and “start recapturing the Reaganite high ground of tax cuts and economic growth and opportunity,” the Weekly Standard says in an editorial written by William Kristol.

“He can do that in two easy and obvious ways,” Mr. Kristol said.

“First, he can make clear that his tax cuts worked. The 2003 cuts in personal income [tax] rates, and in the tax rates on dividends and capital gains, have helped produce economic growth of better than 4 percent a year — as non-tax-cutting European economies have stagnated. Unemployment here is down to 5.1 percent, while it remains 10 percent or more in Germany and France. The Dow is up by about 24 percent since May 2003, and capital spending by business is up some 22 percent.

“And tax revenues are up. As Stephen Moore has pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, the supply-side Laffer curve has worked. Federal tax receipts are up by over 15 percent so far this fiscal year — and state tax receipts are up 7.5 percent. Individual and corporate receipts are up some 30 percent in the two years since the tax cut. The budget deficit looks as if it will be down by some $60 billion this year.

“It’s a Bush administration success story. They should tout it. Usually politicians seek to forget — and to have others forget — their failures. In this case, the Bush administration has forgotten to take credit for its successes. Tax cuts have been orphaned. But it’s never too late to remind the American people that Republicans pushed through, and the Democrats opposed, tax cuts.

“And then the president can ask that the tax cuts be made permanent. Start the drumbeat slowly, build up a bit in the fall, and then you’ve laid the groundwork for a strong State of the Union in January: Insist that Congress’ top 2006 agenda item be to make the cuts permanent. Assuring the permanence of the tax cuts would provide a tonic for the stock market, and for investor and consumer confidence. It would also be a much-needed tonic for the Republican Party.”

Judicial activism

“Almost anyone on President Bush’s short list of Supreme Court nominees will rouse Senate Democrats to filibuster,” Douglas W. Kmiec writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“No one seriously believes that this will happen because his picks will lack proper training, integrity or temperament. Rather, what riles Democrats is Bush’s repeated assertion that he will not appoint someone who ‘legislate from the bench.’ They and their allies believe that Bush’s opposition to judicial activism cloaks his real desire to fill the court with like-minded conservatives,” said Mr. Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University.

“They are wrong. The president’s view on activist judges is a defensible, neutral principle of appointment.

“Democrats and Republicans are quick to hurl the term ‘judicial activism’ at each other. The Warren court is condemned for elevating criminal-defendant rights over police needs, the Rehnquist court for expanding the power of states at the expense of the federal government.

“A study praised by both liberals and conservatives — and that happens to have been done by my son, Keenan — found the phrase used thousands of times in scholarly articles and judicial opinions, but its meaning frequently came down to ‘a decision one does not like.’ Even Justice Antonin Scalia, one of Bush’s favorite jurists, described ‘judicial activism’ as ‘totally imprecise … just nothing but fluff.’ The problem is that common usage doesn’t tell us where judicial restraint ends and judicial activism begins.

“A clue to where the line should be drawn can be found in the words of the late Democratic Sen. Sam Ervin, who chaired the Watergate hearings. He said a ‘judicial activist … is a judge who interprets the Constitution to mean what it would have said if he, instead of the founding fathers, had written it.’”

Another apology

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, apologized to war veterans Saturday for his remarks earlier this month comparing interrogators at an American-run detention camp in Cuba to Nazis and other historically infamous regimes.

“I think when you’ve done something hurtful to people, you have to stand up and say I’m sorry,” Mr. Durbin said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Peoria, Ill., five days after he apologized for the comments on the Senate floor.

Mr. Durbin received a standing ovation from most of the crowd after his speech, the Associated Press reports.

Charlie Brimm, 55, said Mr. Durbin’s comments upset veterans, but most think his apologies are sincere.

“It took a pretty big man to come up in front of a veterans group after the comments he made just a week or so before,” said Mr. Brimm, a former state VFW commander and Army veteran of the Vietnam War.

Facing danger

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says he is not worried about his personal safety.

“I am more concerned about the life of my nation and my people than my personal life,” Mr. al-Jaafari said yesterday in response to a question on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“In fact, I will be happy to sacrifice my life if this will lead to the happiness of my nation. As in your nation, many of your leaders were killed or assassinated in the course of duty. Abraham Lincoln was killed in his course of duty as a president.”

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

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