- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The party line

“Back in 2003, when John Roberts was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on his way to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, just three Democrats — Edward Kennedy, Charles Schumer, and Dick Durbin — voted against him,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Now, two years later, with Roberts again before the committee, nominated to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, the question is not whether Kennedy, Schumer and Durbin will vote against him again. That’s a given. The question is whether any committee Democrats — the ones who once approved his nomination — can be persuaded to vote yes on Roberts a second time,” Mr. York said.

“And the short answer seems to be — at least for now — probably not. In the hour before the Roberts hearing began Monday, no fewer than three well-connected Republicans confided that, while they remain confident that Roberts will be confirmed, they believe he will likely end up making it through the committee on a straight party-line, 10 to 8 vote. ‘That’s not what I want to see,’ said one GOP insider. ‘But that’s what I think could happen.’

“That certainly doesn’t mean Roberts would not be confirmed in the full Senate, but it does suggest that recent stories about Democrats being too dispirited to mount a vigorous opposition to Roberts were greatly, greatly exaggerated.”

Slanting the news

“ABC News can’t seem to figure out what percent of whites in their latest poll believe that the response to Katrina would have been faster ‘if the victims were wealthy and white,’ with ‘World News Tonight’ anchor Elizabeth Vargas (20 percent), an on-screen graphic (21 percent) and ABCNews.com (24 percent) all offering a different percentage,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org and the MRC’s blog, NewsBusters.org.

“And while Vargas highlighted Monday night how ‘dissatisfaction … with the government’s response to the hurricane is growing and hurting President Bush’s overall approval rating, it now stands at just 42 percent, the lowest it’s ever been,’ in a WashingtonPost.com article posted at 5:30 p.m. EDT, Richard Morin pointed out that ‘Bush isn’t the biggest loser in the post-Katrina blame game.’

“Indeed, though 45 percent said Bush deserved a ‘great deal’ or ‘good amount’ of blame for ‘problems’ in the response, 57 percent said the same about state and local officials,” Mr. Baker said.”

Cutting spending

The American Conservative Union yesterday urged President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress to take immediate action to rein in federal spending.

“Clearly the terrible tragedy resulting from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina will require substantial federal resources to be expended, and all Americans support this relief effort,” said ACU Chairman David Keene. “But the idea that Congress should spend tens of billions of dollars on this relief effort in the absence of reprioritizing overall federal spending makes absolutely no sense.

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that prior to Hurricane Katrina, federal government spending was already spiraling out of control,” Mr. Keene said.

He added: “Because of these massive increases in federal largess, conservatives throughout the United States are increasingly losing faith in the president and the Republican leadership in Congress to adequately prioritize and rein in overall federal spending.”

Return fire

The pro-life group Operation Rescue responded to Sen. Charles E. Schumer yesterday after the New York Democrat, during Judge John G. Roberts Jr.’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, called the organization’s leader an extreme ideologue.

“You told me when we met that you were not an ideologue and you share my aversion to ideologues,” Mr. Schumer said, addressing Judge Roberts. “Yet, you’ve been embraced by some of the most extreme ideologues in America, like the leader of Operation Rescue. That gives rise to a question many are asking: What do they know that we don’t?”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman responded: “Senator Schumer, you hypocritically say you abhor ideologues, yet you embrace one of the most radically extremist pro-death left-wing ideologies in America.

“You ask what we know? We know that the pro-death reign of terror that you so adamantly espouse is coming to an end whether Judge Roberts is confirmed or not. Given the current political, popular and religious trends in our nation, it is an inescapable inevitability.”

Poor performance

“The federal government has taken the brunt of the public criticism for seeming out of touch and uncomprehending in those first few days” after Hurricane Katrina, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

“But what [New Orleans] Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco did and didn’t do was worse. They consciously and deliberately assumed an attitude of powerlessness and hopelessness in the face of New Orleans’ woes that directly contributed to the lawlessness, chaos and disorder,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“They gave angry interviews. They screamed and yelled about the federal government being bad. They cried. They delayed. They said they didn’t care very much about looting, and then said they cared a lot about looting, and then didn’t do anything about the looting.”

Ferrer leads

Former Bronx borough President Fernando Ferrer last night built a commanding lead among four Democrats squaring off in their party’s primary for the chance to wage an underdog campaign against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican who enjoys broad support in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.

With 82 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Ferrer led with 41 percent, or 152,562 votes, to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s 28 percent, or 105,391 votes. Manhattan borough President C. Virginia Fields had 15 percent, and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller had 10 percent, the Associated Press reports

Mr. Ferrer needed 40 percent to avoid a runoff, which would be held in two weeks.

Not to be upstaged, Mr. Bloomberg threw an election night party in Brooklyn, even though he did not face a challenger in the Republican primary.

For the record

The following correction, which ran Saturday in the New York Times, gives some indication of how the mainstream press has been covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“An article on Thursday about a broad attack by Democrats on the Bush administration’s handling of the hurricane crisis misstated the action of the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, in response to e-mails seeking his comment. Two e-mails sent by a reporter carried incorrect addresses. Mr. McClellan therefore was unable to respond; he did not fail to do so.”

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

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