- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Shifting arguments

“The sad case of Terri Schiavo has raised passions not seen since five years ago. Then another bitterly divided family argued in Florida courts over someone who couldn’t speak on his own behalf: Elian Gonzalez,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“In both cases, those who were unhappy with the courts’ decisions strained to assert the federal government’s power to produce a different outcome. The difference is that in Mrs. Schiavo’s case, Congress backed off after passing a bill that merely asked a federal court to hear the case from scratch, something that U.S. District Judge James Whittemore declined to do. By contrast, those who wanted the federal government to intervene in Elian Gonzalez’s case went all the way, supporting a predawn armed federal raid on the morning before Easter to seize the 6-year-old boy despite a federal appeals court’s refusal to order his surrender,” Mr. Fund said.

“Both cases were marked with hypocrisy and political posturing galore. Both times some conservative Republicans talked about issuing subpoenas to compel the person at the center of the case to appear before Congress; they swiftly backed down when public opinion failed to support their stunt. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, argued that by opposing Elian’s return to his father in communist Cuba, conservatives were abandoning the principle that ‘the state should not supersede the parents’ wishes.’ In the case of Terri Schiavo, many conservatives who normally support spousal rights decided that Michael Schiavo’s decision to abandon his marital vows while at the same time refusing to divorce his wife rendered him unfit to override the wishes of his wife’s parents to have her cared for.

“But liberals have gotten off easy for some of the somersaulting arguments they have made on behalf of judicial independence and states’ rights to justify their position that Terri Schiavo should not be saved. Many made the opposite arguments in the Elian Gonzalez case.”

Biased press corps

“Two Washington press corps veterans have conceded that the news media have a bias against religious believers,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“On CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ on Sunday, New Republic Senior Editor Michelle Cottle asserted that journalists ‘behave as though the people who believe’ in widely held Christian values ‘are on the fringe.’

Steve Roberts, who noted how he ‘worked for the New York Times for 25 years,’ revealed: ‘I could probably count on one hand, in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, people who would describe themselves as people of faith.’

“That disconnect hurt the media, Roberts suggested, in how ‘there was so much attention … on the rockers and the sports celebrities who were registering voters.’ Roberts asked: ‘And how many stories did we see about that compared to the pastors and churches in Ohio who were registering ten times as many voters?’ ”

Ad campaign

Senate Democrats and their outside allies are launching a pre-emptive attack against Republican efforts to block judicial nominee filibusters.

Roll Call reports the Democrats will run a series of cable television advertisements as a prelude to the coming fight over a likely Supreme Court nomination while Republicans ramp up efforts to curtail the filibuster of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, has threatened to end the ability of lawmakers to filibuster judicial nominees, a so-called “nuclear option” that Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has said will result in Senate Democrats shutting down Congress.

With nationally sponsored ads by MoveOn.org already running, other groups are entering the fray on the Democratic side.

The ads are part of the Democrats’ efforts to continue the coordination they have applied to the Social Security reform debate.

The judicial-nominee flank reportedly will involve not only lawmakers and their aides, but also labor unions and other interest groups.

Change of heart

“The latest turn in the Valerie Plame ‘leak’ investigation is that the very same press corps that cheered on the appointment of a special prosecutor to harass the Bush administration and conservative columnist Robert Novak now doubts whether any crime was ever committed,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial yesterday.

“That’s the notable argument in a friend of the court brief filed last week by 36 leading news organizations (including this one) with the intent of keeping New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper out of jail: ‘There exists ample evidence on public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. … If in fact no crime under the Act has been committed, then any need to compel Miller and Cooper to reveal their confidential sources should evaporate.’ (The two are currently free pending appeal of a contempt citation.)

“Some of us have argued from the start that a showing of criminality under the statute would require that Ms. Plame have been a covert agent whose identity the CIA was taking active steps to conceal; and that the leaker revealed her identity maliciously and with the intent of damaging U.S. national security. Whoever revealed Ms. Plame’s identity to Mr. Novak almost certainly doesn’t fit that profile, and it’s a shame that the largely anti-Bush press corps couldn’t see it that way until now — when the 2004 election is over and its own interests are at stake,” the newspaper said.

Buddy-buddy

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s fire-breathing style — he called Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan a “political hack,” for example — has endeared him to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, the Boston Globe reports.

“He’s honest and direct, which is what Governor Dean likes,” said Laura Gross, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dean.

Mr. Dean and Mr. Reid “have strategized by phone at least a dozen times over the past few weeks,” reporter Nina J. Easton said.

Hard campaigning

In 1758, young George Washington decided to make a second try for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He concluded he had lost the first time because he had not “treated” the voters properly, meaning he had not provided them with sufficient alcoholic refreshment.

So when he ran again, says an article in the April issue of Smithsonian magazine, the young squire purchased about 144 gallons of wine, rum, hard cider, punch and beer and distributed the beverages to supporters.

The ploy worked. “At more than two votes per gallon, Washington’s effort proved successful, launching a rather distinguished career in American politics,” writer BeverlyGage observes.

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

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