- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

McCain prods AARP

Republican Sen. John McCain, sitting alongside President Bush at a Social Security event in Albuquerque, N.M., yesterday, threw a few punches at those he says are blocking change.

Mr. McCain took a jab at the AARP, which has been buying television and newspaper advertisements in cities that Mr. Bush is visiting to oppose his idea to let younger workers divert some of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts.

“Some of our friends who are opposing this idea say, ‘Oh, you don’t have to worry until 2042.’ We wait until 2042, when we stop paying people Social Security?” the Arizona senator asked.

The Social Security trustees have said 2042 is the year when the trust fund will be empty and the program will have only annual payroll taxes to pay benefits.

“I want to say to our friends in AARP — and they are my friends in AARP — ‘Come to the table with us,’” Mr. McCain said. “We not only have an obligation to seniors, but we have an obligation to future generations of Americans as well.”

Hillary’s decision

“A senior official in the Bush administration says he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton will run for re-election in New York in 2006,” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

“‘You miss all those votes’ if you try for the party’s presidential nomination while still serving in the Senate, the official said. And, the official added, you don’t want to be put in the position in which John Kerry found himself in 2003, when the Massachusetts senator felt compelled to vote against the $87 billion package of reconstruction and military aid for Iraq and Afghanistan because he was fighting for his life against the anti-war candidate, Howard Dean,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“Kerry’s vote may have been necessary for his struggle in the Democratic primary, but it was ruinous when it came to the general election. It was, said the Bush official, ‘the gift that kept on giving.’

“You can see why Hillary might be wise not to seek a second term when you consider the extraordinary situation in Washington this past weekend, as Republicans forced votes in both chambers of Congress on the highly polarizing matter of Terri Schiavo’s life and death.

“This is exactly the kind of vote that would and should terrify any Democratic senator looking to expand his or her political base beyond the blue states.”

Backing Wolfowitz

James P. Rubin, who served as an assistant secretary of state underPresident Clinton and as an adviser to Democratic Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, says Paul Wolfowitz is the right choice to become World Bank president.

Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, “has called the World Bank’s mission of reducing poverty ‘one of the greatest moral challenges of our time.’ He is just the right person to build support for this crucial task during the Bush administration,” Mr. Rubin wrote yesterday in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

“As head of the World Bank, Mr. Wolfowitz’s effectiveness will be determined by the willingness of the United States and other countries to contribute resources for nonmilitary programs. Thus, for bureaucratic reasons alone, he is sure to become the world’s main advocate for foreign aid. Considering that the Republican Party has historically been critical of foreign assistance, it is good news indeed that such an advocate will have the ear of President Bush.”

Bush’s agenda

“When the rumor erupted in the press recently that Carly Fiorina, the deposed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was being considered for the presidency of the World Bank, it prompted guffaws at the White House,” Fred Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal.

President Bush was not conducting a job search for the World Bank post. There was no short list. He’d selected his nominee, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, many weeks before. ‘There was an early consensus around Paul,’ a senior White House official said. That means the president knew exactly whom he wanted from the start. By the time the choice of Mr. Wolfowitz was announced last week, European leaders had been consulted and discussions on replacing Mr. Wolfowitz at the Pentagon were well on their way,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Mr. Wolfowitz is controversial, given his role as an early advocate and architect of the Iraq war. But his nomination is also typical of the president. In lesser administration positions — commerce secretary would be one — Mr. Bush is happy to take suggestions and consider people he barely knows or hasn’t met at all.

“But in jobs he views as critical, especially in foreign affairs, he prefers a known quantity, usually a tough, loyal administration veteran with an agenda. His agenda. Two other Bush nominees, John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N. and Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, are also in the agenda category. …

“The nominations of Messrs. Bolton and Wolfowitz produced shock and awe around the world. Ms. Hughes’ didn’t. But what’s significant is that all three have agendas that reflect the president’s own worldview. Or, put more precisely, their agendas stem from Mr. Bush’s shake-up-the-world view.”

Protecting life

During the presidential campaign last year, George W. Bush talked about the need to promote a ‘culture of life.’ Anyone who dismissed such talk as just a way to spin anti-abortion views without scaring pro-choice voters should pay closer attention. Today, the Terri Schiavo case is revealing that protecting life is much broader than that single issue, and that it is a central component of Mr. Bush’s governing philosophy,” Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“With Congress passing and President Bush signing legislation early [Monday] morning that may end up saving Mrs. Schiavo’s life, some are now accusing Republicans of crass political motives. That misses the larger public debate joined in America and largely promulgated by those the media often dismiss as ‘the religious right.’

“From stem cells to abortion, Americans are confronting questions about life — when it begins and when it ceases to be valuable — more than at any time in our history. Partly we have science to blame for this debate, since medicine can sustain life long past the body’s ability to function on its own. But the debate is so intense because it is about the direction in which we’d like our culture to move,” Mr. Miniter said.

The columnist added: “A flash point has long been abortion, but it’s wrong to think this battle is entirely about ‘a woman’s right to choose’ or about protecting only unborn life. A large segment of the population feels that there has been a coarsening of our culture, that as a society we no longer view life as precious and valuable in all its forms.

“Abortion on demand is a sign of that coarsening, but so is euthanasia and the push to use stem cells from frozen embryos and tissue from aborted babies. Like Terri Schiavo’s family, many Americans have decided they aren’t going to remain silent as lives are discarded as ‘worthless.’”

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

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