- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

Awaiting a draft

“Political associates of Secretary of State Condi Rice are stirring the 2008 presidential pot on her behalf,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“While she takes the high road, they’re pushing her name out there. ‘She definitely wants to be president,’ said one. But, the friend added, Rice isn’t planning on quitting to run. ‘She wants to be drafted,’ he said.”

Socialist Democrat?

According to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, doesn’t really mean it when he calls himself a socialist democrat.

Mr. Dean was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday whether the DNC would support Mr. Sanders’ bid for the Senate seat being vacated by independent Sen. James M. Jeffords in 2006, considering the congressman votes with the Democrats almost 100 percent of the time.

“We may very well end up supporting him,” Mr. Dean said. “We need to work some things out because it’s very important for us not to split the votes in some of the other offices as well.”

But if Mr. Sanders wants the support of the DNC, he probably will have to tone down the proud talk of being an avowed socialist.

“He’s not a socialist, really,” Mr. Dean said. “He’s really a populist.”

Pressed by “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert, Mr. Dean relented and agreed that Mr. Sanders — whatever he calls himself — has a home among the Democrats, and suggested there is little difference between modern liberalism and classic socialism.

“Well, [he’s] a democratic socialist — all right, we’re talking about words here — and Bernie can call himself anything he wants,” Mr. Dean said. “He is basically a liberal Democrat.”

Actor vs. actor

Actor Warren Beatty, who has been considered a potential candidate for California governor, said Saturday that he does not want to run in elections next year, even as he lashed out against incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger’s policies.

Mr. Beatty, invited to speak to graduates of the University of California at Berkeley’s public policy school, has never held public office, but he has been a major supporter of Democratic presidential candidates for decades.

In recent months, the two movie stars have sparred in separate public appearances that hinted at a possible political showdown.

“I’m an opponent of [Mr. Schwarzenegger’s] muscle-bound conservatism with longer experience in politics than he has,” the star of the political satire “Bulworth” said at the commencement ceremony, Reuters news service reported.

“And although I don’t want to run for governor, I would do … a lot better job than he’s done,” the 68-year-old actor said. “I could name you a lot of Democrats who would be so much better than I would, and maybe even a few Republicans.”

No clear Democratic front-runner has emerged to challenge the Austrian-born Mr. Schwarzenegger in the November 2006 election. State Treasurer Phil Angelides has asked for his party’s nomination, and former “Meathead” Rob Reiner, now a producer and director, has done well in the polls.

Long memories

“Surveying the Senate’s nuclear-missile silos, Court TV’s Fred Graham said that of course the Republican majority had the power to change the filibuster rule, and the Democrats would have to lump it: ‘What are they going to do,’ he asked, ‘appeal to the Supreme Court?’ They didn’t much enjoy their last visit to the high court after the 2000 election. But the nightmare lingers on,” the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger writes.

“The death-struggle in the Senate over the Bush judges is best understood as a re-fighting of the post-2000 Florida election challenge. Democratic logic, premised on the … Bush v. Gore decision, runs like this: Bush stole the 2000 election with a Republican-dominated Supreme Court. The resulting presidency, as they’ve often said, is ‘illegitimate.’ Because ‘justice’ failed in 2000, Karl Rove got four years to brilliantly manufacture a bare, popular-vote majority of social conservatives in 2004, extending the illegitimate Bush presidency another four years. Ergo, obstruction is justified.

“Judicial nominations, the Bolton nomination, Social Security reform — Just Say No. But will the voters buy it?” Mr. Henninger asks.

“I think the Democrats have as much chance of winning the public with obstruction politics as they did of winning the past two presidential elections: close but not close enough.

“If the nation’s most popular sport now is poker, then the Democrats have become the party of the constant inside straight. They hold a politically competitive hand, but not a winning hand.”

Good wishes

“May 17 was a milestone: The one-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. The media marked the occasion by spotlighting some of the 6,000 gay and lesbian couples who got married here during the past 12 months, and if there was a common theme that ran through all the interviews and profiles, it was the joy of the newlyweds,” the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby writes.

“Hundreds of same-sex couples converged on Boston Common to celebrate the anniversary on Tuesday, and in the large group photo that appeared in the Boston Globe the next morning, virtually every face is wreathed in smiles. If I were a supporter of same-sex marriage, I would congratulate the delighted couples on their anniversary and wish them continued happiness,” Mr. Jacoby said.

“But I am an opponent of same-sex marriage. That being the case, my message to the couples is: Congratulations on your anniversary, and may you enjoy continued happiness.

“I mention my sincere good wishes only because so many supporters of same-sex marriage think that anyone who disagrees with them must be an ignorant bigot. Time and again, I have been told that my views on marriage are morally equivalent to the views of a segregationist on race, or a Nazi on Jews. It is remarkable: Express the conviction that marriage should mean the union of male and female, and you are told that you are peddling hate.”

Inviting Iowans

With a visit to Iowa not considered the politically smart thing to do just now, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is instead inviting Iowans to come see her in Washington.

Aides to the New York Democrat on Friday confirmed that the former first lady — widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 — is inviting supporters to her Washington home for a fundraiser, the Associated Press reports.

Clinton campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis declined to say when the event would be held, but said the sole purpose was to raise money for Mrs. Clinton’s Senate re-election bid in 2006, not to court support in a state that hosts the caucuses that kick off the presidential election cycle.

“There is no other agenda,” Miss Lewis said.

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

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