- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

1994 and 2006

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the GOP majority is losing its team spirit, and many in Congress are going their own way as they eye a tough re-election climate,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Back in 1994, that kind of behavior over a crime bill that failed to garner enough Democratic votes to pass on the floor was an early indicator that Democrats were in serious political trouble. They wound up losing control of both houses of Congress that year,” Mr. Fund said.

“No one quite expects a tsunami of those proportions this year. Incumbent-protection devices and gerrymandered districts are likely to minimize GOP losses. But Republican strategists are now openly talking about the parallels between 1994 and 2006.

“‘Democrats had the health-care debacle; we have our base demoralized on spending,’ says a top GOP strategist who was intimately involved in promoting the [1994] Contract with America. ‘Democrats had corruption issues. Both parties now have them, but it’s the GOP that’s getting the headlines. And, finally, hatred of Bush on the left is at least as intense as hatred of Clinton was on the right in 1994.’

“In both years, the economy was in decent shape, but that didn’t prevent many disillusioned voters of the party in power from staying home. …

“We’ll know soon enough if GOP voter turnout is likely to be a huge problem in November. GOP volunteers in California’s San Diego County report that absentee ballots from the party faithful are being turned in at disturbingly low rates for a special House election that will take place [today]. The race will fill the seat of the disgraced Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, the GOP member of the Appropriations Committee who took more than $2.1 million in bribes to steer pork-barrel projects to favored defense contractors.

“Under the rules of the contest, any candidate in the crowded field who gets more than 50 percent will win the seat outright. If no candidate breaks the 50 percent threshold, the top Democrat and top Republican will square off in a June runoff. Democrats clearly believe they have a chance to win the race in a surprise knockout blow [today].”

RU-486 vote sought

A group of 47 House Republicans yesterday wrote a letter to House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, demanding that the House vote soon on a bill that would pull RU-486 from the market because of possible health risks it poses to women.

“The health and lives of women throughout the U.S. depend upon it,” states the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, referring to what some call the abortion pill, RU-486, or mifepristone.

The Food and Drug Administration now recognizes five confirmed deaths associated with the drug and has received 840 reports of serious complications, the letter states.

The FDA — along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — will hold a workshop in May to examine RU-486, but the House Republicans say that’s not good enough.

“The FDA’s highest ‘black box’ warning and planned workshop are clearly not protecting American women from this dangerous drug,” the letter states. “It is obvious that Congress must take action in order to pull this deadly toxin from the market before more women die.”

The House Republicans argue that a House vote on the bill — which would withdraw FDA approval of RU-486 and send it back for review — “would put the House of Representatives firmly on record as dedicated to preserving the lives and well-being of all women and to holding the FDA accountable for the manner in which it approves pharmaceutical products.”

The new Rather

“The torch of Dan Rather has been passed at CBS, and another liberal flame-thrower is on the job,” Tim Graham writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

Katie Couric may seem to some as too stuffed with Perky Morning Cuteness to be attacked as an icon of the Liberal Elitist Media. But as different as her sparkly ‘That Girl’ personality is from Dan Rather’s wizened weirdness, they have one thing in common: Truth is a malleable commodity, something to be stretched and smudged like Silly Putty on the Sunday funnies if the political cause is right,” said Mr. Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center.

“One moment sticks out in remembering Couric’s approach to journalism. Reporters rarely admit their political leanings, but on the network morning shows, the female anchors are bold enough to identify themselves as part of the feminist movement. The words ‘feminist’ and ‘we’ can be interchanged, as they were in a June 2, 1994, ‘Today’ interview when Katie Couric asked author of ‘Who Stole Feminism?’ Christina Hoff Sommers, ‘What should we be using other than this angry rhetoric’ in the feminist movement?

“But a much more pernicious form of bias was revealed when the talk turned to statistics. Sommers scowled at the thoroughly discredited statistic that domestic violence increases after football games. Discredited statistics discredit the cause. But not for Couric, who suggested the feminist cause is more important than the truth: ‘Let’s say, if one accepts your thesis, that these statistics are inflated or are used incorrectly. Aren’t you worried about throwing the baby out with the bath water? So Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the biggest day for men battering women. Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to be dismissing the problem all together if you refute that, or if you constantly criticize that?’ Couric’s Law: Don’t refute errors if they set back liberal progress. Katie Couric needs to be taken seriously: as CBS replacing one Rather with another.”

Hillary’s analysis

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says the stability of the U.S. economy may be threatened by “skyrocketing” health-care costs, widening trade and budget deficits and disappearing middle-class jobs, Bloomberg News reports.

“The economy is working really well for many people,” the New York Democrat said yesterday. “But if you look just over the horizon and below the surface there are some troubling issues.”

In an interview previewing a major speech she will give today at the Chicago Economic Club, Mrs. Clinton said, “The rich are getting richer; everybody else is marching in place” and “I don’t think that’s good for us.”

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

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