- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Don’t believe it

“Democrats and their allies think they have at last found the perfect storm to sink the Bush presidency and, possibly, shake the GOP domination in the Delta area,” observed former Clinton adviser Dick Morris in the New York Post yesterday.

“The media has constantly harped on the political damage President Bush’s belated response to the hurricane disaster will cause. Don’t believe it,” Mr. Morris advised.

“Relief is a gift that keeps on giving,” he noted. “The rebuilding process will take months and years. This process, likely to become a theme for Bush’s second term in the way 9/11 dominated his first one, will ultimately become a presidential strength.”

Meanwhile, Louisiana lawmakers have some ‘splaining to do, Mr. Morris wrote.

“Where was Sen. Mary Landrieu demanding aid? If this swing-state senator, whose father was a mayor of New Orleans, had made clear to her party’s leadership and to the White House that her legislative course would be determined by their response to this critical need for a new levee, she could have exerted the pull needed to get the project under way.”

“Likewise, ex-Sen. John Breaux … could have weighed in successfully and gotten the capital support his state needed. Breaux and Landrieu have always been among the handful of swing votes in the Senate. Where were they?”

Empress Kathleen

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco “piddled” while New Orleans failed, wrote Mike Baham of the online Bayou Buzz yesterday.

“Gov. Blanco has displayed throughout this entire catastrophe seems a greater concern for politics than people. I am sure the governor made some hacks at the [Democratic National Committee] very proud with her anti-Bush tirades.

“Because Gov. Blanco refused to talk tough when it was still possible to scare off thugs itching to loot, the city burst at its seams … yet she appears angrier with the Bush administration than the looters.

“Legend has it when Rome burned, Emperor Nero, a musician and artist, played his lyre and sang. I wonder if Gov. Blanco, known to be proud of her Cajun lineage, was playing a box accordion at a time when New Orleans needed a [Rudy] Giuliani and got stuck with the anti-Rudy.”

Jane bows to Cindy

Uh-oh. Jane Fonda has abandoned her anti-war bus trip next March and cut back a few other peacenik appearances besides. The reason? She doesn’t want to upstage Cindy Sheehan, who is staging her own cross-country bus tour.

“I would be a distraction. The vacuum has been filled. That said, I plan to speak out and write some op-ed pieces, but no bus tour,” Miss Fonda told Fox News, adding, “What the right wing has done to Sheehan is despicable.”

Mrs. Sheehan, now fielding offers from book publishers to write her story, is traveling in three buses filled with members of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and other groups.

Miss Fonda also has pared eight appearances with controversial British politician George Galloway down to just two — the pair will appear in Madison, Wis., and Chicago in the middle of the month.

MoveOn.org, meanwhile, will stage a rally outside the White House today featuring Katrina evacuees protesting what it calls “budget cuts and indifference” to New Orleans in recent years.

Bush’s nerve

“With John Roberts sailing toward confirmation last week, President Bush had the O’Connor seat ‘won.’ The Court was set to move one click to the right (so to speak). Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist died. The president chose to move Roberts over to fill the Rehnquist slot — thereby re-opening the vacancy created by Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement,” observed the Weekly Standard’s Irving Kristol yesterday.

“But with this action, in one fell swoop, the president deprived himself and his supporters of the easiest argument for his next nominee: that surely a re-elected conservative president is entitled to replace a conservative justice — Rehnquist — with another conservative.”

“So now everything rides on Bush’s nerve. Is he willing to fill the O’Connor seat with a conservative, and can he then make an effective case for that nominee to the Senate and the country? Bush will have three huge advantages — a 55-seat GOP Senate majority, popular support for a more restrained and conservative Court, and a plethora of well-qualified conservative candidates (consider Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell, Edith Jones, Priscilla Owen, Maura Corrigan, and Miguel Estrada.)”

Mr. Bush may flinch after a difficult week, Mr. Kristol reasoned, tempted to nominate Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales because of “the symbolism of putting the first Hispanic on the court.”

Mr. Kristol continued, “Gonzales would be mediocre — and not a solid bet to move the court in a constitutionalist direction … a Gonzales nomination would utterly demoralize many of [Bush] supporters, who are sticking with him and his party, through troubles in Iraq and screw-ups with Katrina, precisely because they want a few important things out of a Bush presidency — and one of these is a more conservative court.”

CNN gets religion

Jon Klein, president of CNN, announced yesterday that the network has hired its first full-time “faith and values correspondent.”

New York-based Delia Gallagher will report “on a wide range of topics involving faith, religion and values in the lives of Americans” and “represents a major commitment by CNN to covering the religious revival in the United States, where tens of millions of people cite faith as a central part of their lives.”

Nimble enemy’

The Partnership for a Secure America is up and running. Intent on establishing the “core principles” of fighting terrorism, the bipartisan organization includes six former senators, four former national security advisers, two former secretaries of state, four former U.N. ambassadors and two former governors.

“Americans from across the political spectrum must come together to develop the next phase of our efforts to counter global terror,” said spokesman Warren Rudman, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire, yesterday.

According to a 12-point statement, the group thinks terrorism must be universally condemned, calling for “forceful measures,” long-term strategies and strong partnerships against a “nimble enemy.” They also want more resources for emergency responders, border patrol, Coast Guard and National Guard.

Among the advisers are former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, Warren Christopher and Lawrence Eagleburger; former Republican senators Howard H. Baker Jr. and Nancy Kassebaum Baker and former Democratic senators Lee H. Hamilton, Sam Nunn and Gary Hart.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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