- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mehlman vs. Dean

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman yesterday defended the GOP’s outreach to black voters days after his Democratic counterpart questioned how he could make such an appeal in view of what he called the Bush administration’s tepid response to Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Mehlman told the Waterbury, Conn., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that the “party of Lincoln and the African-American people have an incredible history together.”

He dismissed criticism from Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who questioned how Mr. Mehlman could appear before the group after the administration’s much-criticized response to the hurricane’s devastation.

“I’m shocked that he would have the nerve to show his face in front of any African-American organization after the way they treated those people in New Orleans,” Mr. Dean told the Hartford Courant.

Mr. Mehlmanresponded in his speech, the Associated Press reports.

“Chairman Dean said it took nerve for me to join you today. The only person with nerve is Howard Dean, who continues to take the African-American vote for granted, who believes he can dictate who you should and should not meet with,” Mr. Mehlman said.

Mr. Mehlman urged those in the audience to give the Republican Party a chance, especially if they are dissatisfied with the quality of their children’s education, housing or retirement options. He touted President Bush’s minority-hiring record, and the president’s support of a plan to triple the money sent to Africa to treat AIDS.

An end to stealth

“In contrast to John Roberts, who sailed through Senate confirmation, Harriet Miers is taking no shortage of criticism from Republicans, many of whom admit they know little if anything about her,”Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

Sen. Arlen Specter says she needs a ‘crash course’ in constitutional law, while admitting he didn’t ask her any constitutional law questions when he met with her ‘because I don’t think she’s ready to face it at the moment.’

“‘Look,’ he told a reporter last week, ‘the lady was White House counsel dealing with totally other subjects until [Oct. 2] when the president offered her the job. And Monday she’s sitting with me. I’m not going to ask her questions which she hasn’t had a chance to study or reflect on.’

“That’s a bit condescending, even unfair. But the criticism cannot come as a surprise to anyone who has followed judicial politics since Robert Bork went down to defeat in 1987. Republican presidents since then have largely avoided open battles over judicial philosophy and have enjoyed the tacit approval of their party in doing so.

“The underlying belief has been that political realities require tiptoeing conservatives past a liberal Senate. Even many conservatives accepted for a time that the best they could hope for was a ‘stealth nominee’: one who had an internal conservative compass that wouldn’t be spotted by liberal senators,” Mr. Miniter said.

“Those days are now over. The shortcoming of stealth candidates has long been apparent. Anthony Kennedy, whom President Reagan nominated after Judge Bork’s defeat, hasn’t moved the court to the right. David Souter — the quintessential ‘stealth candidate’ — was put on the court by the first President Bush in 1990 and has become a symbol to the right of why unknown candidates must be resisted.”

The religious left

Michael Lerner was back on campus at Berkeley. But this time he is a portly Jewish rabbi leading 1,200 mostly middle-aged ‘spiritual progressives,’ and not the young Students for a Democratic Society agitator targeted by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s,”Mark D. Tooley writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

“The ‘Politics of Meaning,’ Lerner’s label for his spiritual liberalism, peaked in the early 1990s, when his supposed fans, Bill and Hillary Clinton, ascended to power. But Hillary disavowed Lerner when his quirky views attracted fire, and the old Berkeley activist, though still publishing Tikkun, seemingly faded,” said Mr. Tooley, who directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

“Now Lerner is back. And his ‘Conference on Spiritual Activism,’ held at Berkeley this summer, tried to present a left-wing alternative to the dreaded Religious Right. Amid opening ‘visualizations’ directed to Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and the ‘goddess Divine Mother,’ Lerner hosted a fairly prominent array of Religious Left luminaries.

“Although professing to transcend political labels, Lerner seemed pretty un-transcendent: ‘In Europe, they [the right] turned against the Jews,’ he declared. ‘In the U.S., they demeaned African Americans and Native Americans. Increasingly that role [targets of the right] is played today by gays and lesbians, feminists, liberals and secular humanists.’

“Conservatives get away with this because liberals ‘don’t get it’ about religion, Lerner explained. His message dovetailed with the best-selling ‘Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It,’ by evangelical-left activist Jim Wallis, who shared the podium with Lerner. A former SDS himself, Wallis founded Sojourners, a journal of liberal Christian activism, over 30 years ago. …

“Millions of evangelicals and Catholics don’t feel represented by Jerry Falwell or ‘right-wing bishops,’ Wallis insisted, describing a battle in ‘all of our great traditions between fundamentalism and prophetic faith.’ The trouble, Wallis and Lerner agreed, is that too many liberals don’t appreciate religion. Wallis recalled a young homosexual saying it was easier to ‘come out gay’ than be ‘religious’ in the Democratic Party.”

She’s ‘home free’

“In spite of the dismay among many conservatives who expected President Bush to nominate a high-profile, bold conservative with a clear record on constitutional issues to the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers will be confirmed by the Senate to replace Sandra Day O’Connor,” political analyst Charlie Cook writes at www.nationaljournal.com.

“If it turns out that Miers was a disciple of a … serial killer or confuses the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, all bets are off, but assuming a passable performance and no skeletons in her closet, she’s home free,” Mr. Cook said.

“Simply put, Republican senators have to deal with this White House and president for another three years. This isn’t just any old confirmation vote, or just any Supreme Court nomination fight. This is a close, personal friend of the president, for whom their party leader climbed out on the end of a very long limb. Most Republican senators will be very reluctant to oppose such a personal choice of the president’s, despite their misgivings about Miers’ lack of record and modest qualifications. A few will, but most will see discretion as the better part of valor.”

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

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