- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dead heat

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester, candidates for governor of New Jersey, are in a statistical dead heat among voters likely to show up at the polls on Election Day.

A Marist Poll done for WNBC-TV in New York, released last night, found Mr. Corzine with support from 44 percent of likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Mr. Forrester. Thirteen percent were undecided.

When undecided voters were asked which candidate they are leaning toward, the results become 47 percent for Mr. Corzine and 45 percent for Mr. Forrester. Eight percent of likely voters remain undecided.

Mystery woman

“I have changed my mind about Harriet Miers,” John Fund writes at OpinionJournal.com.

“Last Thursday, I wrote in OpinionJournal’s Political Diary that ‘while skepticism of Ms. Miers is justified, the time is fast approaching when such expressions should be muted until the Senate hearings begin. At that point, Ms. Miers will finally be able to speak for herself.’

“But that was before I interviewed more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues along with political players in Texas. I came away convinced that questions about Ms. Miers should be raised now — and loudly — because she has spent her entire life avoiding giving a clear picture of herself. ‘She is unrevealing to the point that it’s an obsession,’ says one of her close colleagues at her law firm.

“White House aides who have worked with her for five years report she zealously advocated the president’s views, but never gave any hint of her own. Indeed, when the Dallas Morning News once asked Ms. Miers to finish the sentence, ‘Behind my back, people say …,’ she responded, ‘… they can’t figure me out.’”

McCain in California

With his popularity at an all-time low, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned yesterday to Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, to help sell his November ballot proposals, the Associated Press reports.

In appearances with the governor in Burbank and Oakland, the senator urged California voters to support the four initiatives backed by Mr. Schwarzenegger on the special-election ballot.

“I have campaigned for reform efforts all over the country,” Mr. McCain said. “What happens in California has significant effect in states like mine that are nearby. It’s just a reality.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s proposals to reform California’s state government would cap state spending, strip lawmakers of the power to draw political boundaries, lengthen the probationary period for teachers from two years to five, and require public employee unions to get members’ permission before dues could be used for political purposes.

Mr. McCain said he supported the proposal that would limit legislative gerrymandering by giving the power to draw district boundaries to a panel of retired judges.

“We need more competitive races,” said Mr. McCain, speaking in a state where only two of the 53 U.S. House seats were decided in the last general election by less than 15 percentage points. “We need the voice of moderation.”

Bush in Big Easy

President Bush got a taste of some of New Orleans’ finest yesterday, dining in the French Quarter and staying at a luxury hotel to showcase progress in the hurricane-battered city even as much of it remains in ruins.

The historic French Quarter was mostly spared by the storm and is showing increasing signs of normalcy with lights back on and establishments reopened.

Over dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Bacco in the Quarter’s heart, Mr. Bush discussed the city’s rebuilding with New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and some of the business owners, church leaders and others that he has appointed to a Commission for the Future of New Orleans.

According to the Associated Press, Mr. Bush also met with political leaders and law enforcement officials from Plaquemines Parish, a major seafood producer and home for oil refineries that took a double hit from Katrina and then Hurricane Rita a month later.

“The American people have their arms out,” Mr. Bush told the officials, according to his spokesman, Trent Duffy.

‘Nonchalant frivolity’

“Facing the most serious task of his tenure at the most important job in the world, President George W. Bush shied away from a fight and acted with nonchalant frivolity,” Timothy P. Carney writes at www.affbrainwash.com.

Harriet Miers, by all appearances, is a fine woman and a top-notch lawyer. Given how little we know about her, we have no way of ruling out the possibility that she would be a good justice of the Supreme Court. In light of her apparent faith and despite her past flirtations with Al Gore and Michael Dukakis, it seems she would be on the right side of the abortion question. None of these considerations, however, erases the fact that President Bush made a horrible decision in nominating her,” Mr. Carney said.

“Presented with a choice of A-list judges — Sam Alito, Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, Michael Luttig, and Michael McConnell, to name a few — President Bush decided instead to pick his own personal lawyer to fill a lifetime spot on the highest court in the land.

“‘Cronyism’ is the wrong word. ‘Impertinence’ or ‘flippancy’ might better describe this choice — as Charles Krauthammer put it, ‘an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom.’”

Bush’s mind-set

“Sure, President Bush hates being psychoanalyzed, but let’s put him on the couch anyway and try to gauge his reasons for nominating White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court,” Ron Brownstein writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Among the appointment’s critics in both parties, the common assumption is that Bush picked Miers because he believed himself to be operating from a position of weakness,” Mr. Brownstein said.

“The theory is that Bush — facing low approval ratings, huge challenges in Iraq and the Gulf Coast, and resistance to legislative priorities like restructuring Social Security — flinched at the prospect of a showdown with Senate Democrats over a known conservative. So he picked a stealth candidate with few public footprints. …

“That analysis is certainly plausible. But it’s not entirely persuasive. For one thing, Bush has never been shy about undertaking big fights even while holding what appeared, by conventional measures, to be a weak hand. …

“So let’s try an alternative explanation: Bush picked Miers because he felt strong, not weak. Remember that Bush, throughout his presidency, has repeatedly demonstrated that he believes leadership is more about following his personal convictions, regardless of outside opinion, than building consensus. When he has the power to implement his ideas, he usually does, no matter how much critics complain.”

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

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