- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Dissing Italians

Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, denied yesterday that his party was attacking Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s Italian heritage by issuing a press release that called the Supreme Court nominee weak on prosecuting the Mafia.

The DNC press release said in part: “Appointed to this position by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Alito is often referred to as ‘Judge Scalito’ because of his adherence to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s right-wing judicial philosophy. While serving as a U.S. Attorney, Alito failed to obtain a key conviction, releasing nearly two dozen mobsters back into society.”

Chris Matthews, on his MSNBC program “Hardball,” said to Mr. Dean yesterday: “It’s unfortunate for you, but somebody in the Democratic Party is putting out an attack sheet onto justice nominee for the Supreme Court, Sam Alito, and the first attack is that he was lenient on the mob. … He let the Lucchese family get off. Here is a guy that is tough on crime. Why start off on that issue?”

Mr. Dean replied: “I didn’t put it out, but somebody did, so I’ll be responsible for it.”

Mr. Dean said his party merely was pointing out that, contrary to Republican assertions, Mr. Alito was not a spectacular prosecutor.

Meanwhile, the National Italian American Foundation said it was “distressed by the attempts of some senators and the media (CNN, CBS) to marginalize Judge Samuel Alito’s outstanding record, by frequent reference to his Italian heritage and by the use of the nickname ‘Scalito.’ ”

NIAF Chairman A. Kenneth Ciongoli added: “Appropriately, no one mentioned that Justice [Stephen G.] Breyer was Jewish or suggested that he was lock-step ideologically with the other Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It would have been outrageous to do so.”

Mapes’ rant

The December issue of Vanity Fair will feature the apologia of Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer who lost her job over the “60 Minutes II” report that used faked documents about the National Guard service of President Bush.

“I must answer the bloggers, the babblers and blabbers, and the true believers who have called me everything from ‘feminazi’ to an ‘elitist liberal’ to an ‘idiot,’ ” she says, according to an account in Editor & Publisher magazine.

“If I was an idiot, it was for believing in a free press that is able to do its job without fear or favor. … I didn’t know that the attack on our story was going to be as effective as a brilliantly run national political campaign, because that is what it was: a political campaign.”

Miss Mapes “writes that she felt the Guard segment was a big success after airing on Sept. 8, 2004, until the following morning at 11 a.m. when she learned that a bunch of ‘far-right’ Web sites were claiming that documents were forged.”

She writes that “what she didn’t know at the time was that the attack on the ‘60 Minutes’ piece was just part of the Bushites ‘sliming’ of those who raised questions about the president.”

Schumer’s smear

“About that ‘all-out political war’ — as an MSNBC anchor dubbed it — that has supposedly broken out over the nomination of Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court: There isn’t going to be one.” said New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.

“No war, but a lot of ugliness. For example, it took only two hours for the anti-Alito rhetoric to overheat, courtesy of New York’s own Sen. Chuck Schumer. He decided, in a pretty amazing display of bad taste, to use the late Rosa Parks’ corpse as a weapon,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

” ‘The real question today is whether Judge Alito would use his seat on the bench, just as Rosa Parks used her seat on the bus, to change history for the better or whether he would use that seat to reverse much of what Rosa Parks and so many others fought so hard and for so long to put in place,’ Schumer said.

“For Schumer to oppose a conservative jurist by suggesting his views are implicitly segregationist … [is] just a lousy and rotten thing to do.”

No investigation

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said yesterday that he will not conduct any hearings into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity or the possible involvement of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, reports Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times.

“There is no value to be added, at this time, by a redundant congressional investigation,” Mr. Davis wrote in a letter to the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, who has been pushing for an investigation.

Mr. Davis said special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald should proceed with his investigation, in which he indicted Mr. Libby last week on charges of obstructing the grand jury that was investigating the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity.

Mayoral debate

In their last debate, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went after his Democratic opponent yesterday with the most force he has shown in the race, accusing Fernando Ferrer of offering empty protests and no problem solving.

“He stands for complaining, he stands for identifying problems and never coming up with solutions, and that’s different than governing,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It’s easy to be a critic, it is very hard to lead.”

According to the Associated Press, he also went after Mr. Ferrer on education, economic development, taxes and affordable housing.

Mr. Ferrer, a former Bronx borough president seeking to unseat Mr. Bloomberg, sought to portray the Republican mayor as out of touch with the middle class and failing to make the city livable for average New Yorkers.

“This city is becoming unaffordable for working and middle class people,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg, a liberal Republican who supports homosexual “marriage” and abortion, enjoys healthy support from the city’s Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 5-to-1. He is leading Mr. Ferrer by about 30 percentage points in opinion polls for the Tuesday election.

Oxley to retire

Republican Rep. Michael G. Oxley, who wrote the legislation to improve investor confidence after corporate scandals, said yesterday that he will retire from Congress at the end of the current term, his 13th.

Republicans outnumber Democrats 231-202 in the House and there’s one independent, but Mr. Oxley’s retirement doesn’t promise to offer much of an opportunity for Democrats, the Associated Press reports.

Only 34.4 percent in his Ohio district voted for Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president last year and just 36.4 percent backed Al Gore in 2000.

Term limits would have forced Mr. Oxley to give up his chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee at the end of 2006, and the 61-year-old said that was a leading factor in his decision.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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