- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

Cheney ‘offended’

Vice President Dick Cheney, when asked about Amnesty International’s recent condemnation of the U.S. prison camp at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said: “I don’t take them seriously.”

Mr. Cheney, in a taped interview that aired last night on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” said: “Frankly, I was offended by it. I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world.

“Think about what we did in World War I, World War II, through the Cold War. Just in this administration, we’ve liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly oppressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people. For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously.”

He said the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been operated “in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military,” and that “when you’re at war, you keep prisoners of war until the war is over with. I think these people have been well-treated, treated humanely and decently.”

Getting religion

“Listening to a Democratic meeting or political rally these days can be like attending church service. At Our Lady of Perpetual Defensiveness,” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times political editor Adam C. Smith writes.

“Forget outsourced jobs or missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The biggest red-meat Democratic applause lines lately are about moral values,” Mr. Smith said.

“’Zell Miller’s talking about Republicans being the only ones with decency and morals,’ former U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman thundered minutes before her election as chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party earlier this month. ‘I want to be the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party that proves those Republicans wrong. We are the party of values. We are the party that stands up for children and their education. We are the party that fights for working people and a livable wage and safe place to work.’

“Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s recent lament to a group of Florida Democrats: Republicans have tried to take some of our values away from us, ‘particularly the values of family and faith.’

“‘One of the problems for so many of us whose faith is the essence of our being is that we don’t wear it on our sleeve.

“‘And isn’t it interesting who Jesus of Nazareth condemned the most are those he called the hypocrites, who would act wan and disheveled so that everyone would know that they were fasting. Or would go out in the public places and offer their prayers so that everybody would think of them as holy?’

“Then there’s Howard Dean, who since becoming Democratic National Committee chairman has developed a zeal for Bible verse.

“‘I didn’t see it in the Republican platform anywhere, but I saw in the Bible that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,’ Dean told southwest Florida Democrats recently.

“‘It is a moral value to walk with the least among us. Those moral values are consistent with Democratic values, with American values, and they are sorely lacking with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who preach one thing and are hypocritical. We need to kick the money changers out of the temple and restore values to America again.’

“The Pharisees and Sadducees?”

A Mormon president?

“You remember, or perhaps you don’t, Sen. Orrin Hatch’s 2000 presidential campaign,” Terry Eastland writes in the Weekly Standard.

“The senator talks about it in soft inflections, recalling this event and that debate. But especially he talks about what motivated him to run. Hatch, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, cites polling data from 1999 suggesting that 17 percent of Americans wouldn’t vote for a Mormon for president under any circumstances. ‘One reason I ran was to knock down the prejudicial wall that exists’ against Mormons, he says. ‘I wanted to make it easier for the next candidate of my faith.’

“That next candidate just might be Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts,” Mr. Eastland said.

“It may seem too early to be talking about 2008. But George W. Bush can’t run again, and, in a break from the usual pattern, the vice president, Richard Cheney, probably won’t be a candidate. So the field looks wide open. And Romney is among those being mentioned in the press and GOP circles for 2008. He’d be a legitimate candidate, regardless of who else might run.

“But would his religion hurt him? Would he run into a prejudicial wall? Maybe, though there are reasons to think otherwise. The country could be looking at its first Mormon president — or, as Romney would prefer to put it, a president who happens to be a Mormon.”

Republican dissenter

“The Raleigh News & Observer reports thatNorth Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. now regrets having invented the term ‘freedom fries’ and says we went to war ‘with no justification,’” T.A. Frank writes in the New Republic.

“Jones, a Republican, is also unhappy with the White House: ‘If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong.’ He has also spoken up frequently for American soldiers, including Ilario Pantano, a Marine lieutenant accused of wrongfully shooting and killing two Iraqis: ‘I’d have him for my son.’”

Illinois candidate

Illinois state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, a Republican, is ready to run for governor next year.

Mr. Rauschenberger, who already has a sizable war chest and a finance committee that includes millionaire former U.S. Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald, Illinois Republican, said he hopes to make an official announcement in July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday.

“I want to run in a race that gives us a chance to pull the threads of the party together,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.

He also said he hopes to persuade U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and other Illinois Republicans to unite behind him to avoid a repeat of last year’s wide-open U.S. Senate primary. That’s when political novice Jack Ryan won in an eight-candidate field only to see his campaign self-destruct amid reports he took his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to sex clubs.

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

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