- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Judicial struggle

“Let’s assume that the Democrats use all the procedural tools available to them and are committed to blocking Senate business until the Republicans agree to recognize the need for a supermajority to confirm judges. How would the country react?” Stuart Rothenberg asks in Roll Call.

“The Republicans almost certainly would be the first ones to absorb a negative media hit, as journalists report that Senate Republicans have ‘changed the rules of the game’ and are abusing their power in their efforts to confirm judges that the Democrats oppose. …

“Barring the existence of a news story of equal importance, such as the capture of Osama bin Laden or a major terrorist attack, the Senate ‘nuclear option’ story would dominate the news for days, even weeks,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“While Republicans would seek to put their strategy into a more positive historical context and demonize the Democrats for frustrating the will of the majority and politicizing judicial confirmations, the GOP tactic would probably draw most of the attention. And if so, the party would be at risk of a backlash.

“However, the longer that the confrontation on Capitol Hill continued, the more the Democrats’ vulnerability would grow. … Like the Republicans who ‘shut down the government’ in 1995, Senate Democrats would likely be viewed ultimately as behaving irresponsibly.”

Romney’s future

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he loves his job and plans to keep it, contradicting speculation he will forgo a re-election bid to focus on a 2008 presidential run.

A Romney run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination is considered likely, but he seemed to suggest that he would seek a second term as governor in 2006, according to an interview with the Boston Globe.

“I’ve got a lot that I want to do as governor of Massachusetts, and I’ll be surprised if I can get it done in two years, so you can expect to see me around for at least another six,” Mr. Romney said, adding that he will make a formal announcement of his plans in the fall.

Mr. Romney’s statements come after recent visits to Missouri, South Carolina and Utah — trips that fueled speculation he is mulling a presidential bid, United Press International reports.

Some political observers say Mr. Romney may relinquish his office so he can accentuate his conservatism for Republican primary voters without fear of a backlash from his constituents in liberal Massachusetts. Others, however, say he needs a second term to burnish his resume.

Tough choice

A 2008 presidential race between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, would present pro-life conservatives with a tough decision because of Miss Rice’s “mildly pro-choice” position on abortion.

That phrase was how Miss Rice described her views last week in an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Times in which she said she had no intention of ever seeking the presidency but refused to flatly rule out the possibility.

But conservative leader Paul Weyrich said he could not see Miss Rice getting the party nomination because “Republicans who vote in the primary and vote in the convention do not buy that ‘mildly pro-choice’ position. I think she would have a very, very tough time.”

Even so, when Washington Times reporter Donald Lambro asked Mr. Weyrich how he would vote in the event that the two women won their party nominations, Mr. Weyrich said he would vote for Miss Rice.

“I would swallow hard and support her because I consider Hillary a dangerous person who would take the country so far down the wrong track that we wouldn’t recognize it during her presidency,” he said.

Tilting the numbers

“At Wednesday morning’s presidential news conference, NBC’s David Gregory told President Bush that the idea of personal accounts for Social Security ‘remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with the majority of Americans.’

“In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News survey released on Tuesday found that 56 percent support ‘a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market,’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“But Gregory’s misperception is somewhat understandable given that The Washington Post headlined its Tuesday front-page story on the poll: ‘Skepticism of Bush’s Social Security Plan Is Growing.’ ”

Ailing bank

“Our World Bank sources tell us that when news was received [Wednesday] of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s nomination to succeed outgoing bank President James Wolfensohn, a collective shudder could be felt throughout its Washington headquarters,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“It’s an affront to multilateralism. It will make the bank look like an arm of American imperialism. It will spark a revival of the antiglobalization movement the bank has tried so hard to ‘dialogue’ with and co-opt.

“Whatever. The World Bank is a dysfunctional bureaucracy that requires deep reform if it is to recover the trust of American taxpayers and survive as a relevant institution in the 21st century. That President Bush named as talented and senior a public servant as Mr. Wolfowitz is a sign he still takes the World Bank seriously — something we sometimes find hard to do — and that he means to reshape its cash-input-driven culture, which so far has produced negligible outputs for its ostensible clients, who are the world’s poor.

“To gain a sense of what ails the bank, it’s useful to read the bipartisan 2000 Meltzer report on international financial institutions, which counts liberal development guru Jeffrey Sachs among its authors. The report is a bit dusty, but since the Bank fiercely resisted its conclusions, the analysis remains valid. Inter alia, the report found that 70 percent of the World Bank’s ‘non-aid’ funds go to 11 countries that already have easy access to capital markets, such as China, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand.”

Newt and the pope

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will look at the life of Pope John Paul II and his relationship with the United States and its leaders in a one-hour special at 9 p.m. Sunday on the Fox News Channel.

Mr. Gingrich will examine John Paul’s travels, his missions and his special appeal to the faithful of all ages, the network said.

A rare interview with the pope’s handpicked musical conductor — who will provide viewers with a rare look at John Paul’s personal side — will be featured.

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

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