- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Save the filibuster’

A liberal judicial-advocacy group has teamed up with Hollywood and a Republican from Los Angeles to spend millions of dollars on a campaign to “save the filibuster.”

People For the American Way, which is leading the charge against several of President Bush’s nominees to the federal appeals court, began airing a commercial yesterday that would run in 18 states with Republican senators during April.

PFAW President Ralph G. Neas said the group will spend $5 million or more on the campaign.

Mr. Neas and many Democrats are worried about the threat by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Republicans to use a rare parliamentary procedure to circumvent filibusters against seven of Mr. Bush’s nominees. Democrats call the maneuver the “nuclear option” for its potential to blow up Senate decorum, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has promised to stall most Senate business if the option is used.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr. Neas introduced a television commercial featuring a Republican Los Angeles firefighter who said he has voted for Mr. Bush twice.

“I like that my party controls the White House and the Congress,” Ted Nonini says. “But I also know that our democracy works best when both parties are speaking out and being heard.”

The ad was conceived by TV producer and PFAW founder Norman Lear, Mr. Neas said, and opens with the famous filibuster scene in the 1939 classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” featuring Jimmy Stewart.

Conservative strategists dismissed the significance of the PFAW campaign, Charles Hurt of The Washington Times reports. One Republican noted that the filibuster portrayed in the fictional movie isn’t even under threat because the “nuclear option” would target only judicial nominees and not regular legislation.

Obama goes left

“On Capitol Hill, another prominent Democratic senator has allied himself with the left-wing activist group MoveOn.org, even as some centrists in the party have reportedly urged Democrats to distance themselves from the organization,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“On Tuesday, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama joined an effort by MoveOn’s political-action committee to raise campaign funds for West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who faces re-election in 2006. In a letter to MoveOn members, Obama praised MoveOn’s efforts, saying, ‘You and millions of others, working through MoveOn, have helped change the way politics works in this country.’

“Obama’s letter comes two weeks after MoveOn sponsored a rally in Washington to support Democratic filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees. That rally was the idea of Byrd, who got in touch with MoveOn to organize the event. In addition to Byrd, it was attended by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and fellow Democratic senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Edward M. Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin,” Mr. York said.

“The alliance with Obama, combined with the turnout of top Democrats at the filibuster rally, is yet another indicator of MoveOn’s growing presence on Capitol Hill. It also shows a strong alliance with Byrd, the 87-year-old senator who has taken the lead in the Democratic effort to justify the judicial filibusters.”

The Obama letter “comes at a time when some centrist Democrats have expressed concerns that the party has become too identified with its most vocal elements on the left, including MoveOn,” Mr. York said.

Danforth’s complaint

John C. Danforth, the former Republican senator from Missouri and until recently U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, charged yesterday that the Republican Party has become “the political arm of conservative Christians.”

Mr. Danforth, an Episcopal minister, cited efforts by high-profile Republicans to prolong the life of Terri Schiavo as well as opposition to stem-cell research and homosexual “marriage” as evidence the party is “yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.”

“The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future,” wrote Mr. Danforth on the op-ed page of the New York Times, pointing to such issues as lower taxes and less regulation. “Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.”

Not newsworthy

“Wherever Jesse Jackson goes the media usually follow and on Tuesday the cable news networks highlighted his arrival outside the Florida hospice care facility holding Terri Schiavo, but the day Jackson took the side of those wishing to save Schiavo, and put a Democratic face with those on the side of her life, ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ suddenly found the whole matter unnewsworthy,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“For the first time in more than 10 days, the newscast had no Schiavo story and didn’t utter a syllable about Jackson, but Peter Jennings found time to pick up on a liberal cause celebre, abuse of prisoners in Iraq, as he showcased how ‘the American Civil Liberties Union has released’ what Jennings characterized as ‘a rather damning memo … written by the former senior U.S. military commander.’

“On CBS, Bob Schieffer gave a few words to Jackson. Of the broadcast network evening shows, only NBC aired a clip of him or showed any video of him,” Mr. Baker said.

Giuliani’s new job

Former New York mayor and possible 2008 presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani will join a major Texas-based law firm, Reuters news agency reports.

Bracewell & Patterson will become Bracewell & Giuliani today when its newest partner comes aboard and establishes an office in New York, said firm partner Andrew Edison.

Mr. Giuliani, who went from being a crime-fighting federal prosecutor in New York to the Republican mayor who guided the city through the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers, leads the Giuliani Partners consulting firm.

“We have always had an interest about getting into the New York market, and needless to say, if you have an opportunity to forge a close relationship with Rudy Giuliani, who is New York, it’s just terrific,” Mr. Edison said.

Seeking a Democrat

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is looking for a high-profile Democrat — possibly former Mayor Edward Koch — to join his re-election campaign.

A Bloomberg spokesman announced Tuesday that Staten Island Rep. Vito Fossella would be the “Republican chairman” of the campaign, leaving open the possibility of a Democratic counterpart, the New York Post reported.

Guy Molinari, former Staten Island borough president, told the newspaper that Mr. Koch is on the mayor’s shortlist, although the New York icon said he knows nothing about it.

“They haven’t mentioned it to me,” he said.

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

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