- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Avoiding disaster

“What’s the dumbest thing George W. Bush could possibly do right at this moment — the action that would, more than any other, suggest his presidency was and is all but finished?” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz asks.

“The answer: Fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Either a forced resignation or a dismissal would effectively bring the Bush presidency to an end,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“This is something that Bush’s out-and-out foes and opponents of the war in Iraq surely understand; otherwise, they wouldn’t be salivating over the prospect and doing everything they can to put pressure on the president to make it happen.

“But some supporters of the president’s efforts in Iraq also seem anxious to see Rummy replaced. These thoughtful people have had problems with the war plan from the start and have been insisting for several years that only with another defense secretary can the war plan’s mistakes be corrected and the conflict brought to a positive conclusion.

“Yet such a move would be an unmitigated disaster for the effort in Iraq.

“Imagine the aftermath of a Rumsfeld firing: The presumption in the press and from gleeful Democrats would be that Bush was effectively acknowledging that the military campaign in Iraq would be doomed to failure with Rummy at the helm.

“It would be a time for endless recapitulations of the supposed errors in judgment made by Rumsfeld and his people before, during and after the war — all spun to support the contention (from the retired generals who are now on the offensive against Rumsfeld and the State Department types who never liked the whole business) that the war was misconceived and has been badly waged.”

Freddie Mac fined

The home loan giant Freddie Mac has agreed to pay a record $3.8 million fine to settle accusations that it made illegal campaign contributions.

The fine announced yesterday is by far the biggest ever levied by the Federal Election Commission. Because the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., widely known as Freddie Mac, agreed to pay the fine and stop breaking the law, the FEC said it would not take further action against corporate officials.

Freddie Mac was accused of illegally using corporate resources between 2000 and 2003 for 85 fundraisers that collected about $1.7 million for federal candidates. Much of the fundraising benefited members of the House Financial Services Committee, a panel whose decisions can affect Freddie Mac, the FEC said.

The FEC also found Freddie Mac officials used staff and resources to raise money from company employees to give to candidates, and that in 2002 the corporation itself gave $150,000 to the Republican Governors Association. The RGA ultimately returned the money.

U.S. law bans federally chartered corporations such as Freddie Mac from contributing to campaigns, and also prohibits companies from using corporate resources and employees to help raise money for congressional and presidential candidates.

The fine is the commission’s largest since the FEC was created after Watergate. The previous record was held by Audiovox, which in 2003 was fined $849,000 in a corporate contribution case.

Bible talk

“Imagine a Republican congressman defending traditional marriage by saying, ‘I am inspired in my public service by St. Paul’s admonition against sodomy in his first letter to the Corinthians.’ Surely, many liberals would raise the alarm of impending theocracy,” Joseph Lindsley writes at www.weekly standard.com.

“ButHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — a self-described ‘conservative Catholic’ despite her status as a pro-gay marriage, pro-choice San Francisco lefty who as a young girl thought she would rather be a priest than a nun — has lately been encouraging members of her party to couch their political arguments in biblical terms so as to appeal to the God-fearing,” Mr. Lindsley said.

“In a St. Patrick’s Day speech on the genocide in Darfur, a topic that unites religious conservatives and liberals, Pelosi said, ‘The gospel of Matthew is something that drives many of us in our public service.’ In September of last year, she gave a speech in favor of strengthening the Endangered Species Act, in which she said, ‘In Isaiah in the Old Testament, we are told that to minister to the needs of God’s creation — and that includes our beautiful environment — is an act of worship.’ And Pelosi, who could be speaker of the House next January, was one of 55 Catholic Democrats in the chamber who signed a ‘Statement of Principles’ in which they expressed union with the ‘living Catholic tradition.’ In the statement, released in February through the office of Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro, the signers admit the ‘undesirability of abortion,’ without actually committing to changing their party’s pro-choice agenda.

Marco Grimaldi, head of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the liberal Center for American Progress, suggests that this new tic is less a strategic move and more an act of frustration with the perception that Democrats are opposed to religion. ‘There is a great deal of conversation around a handful of moral issues. I think people who see things differently are really frustrated,’ he said.”

Tancredo’s vow

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo says he will campaign against fellow Republicans who support a path to citizenship for illegal aliens — even Sen. John McCain.

“If there are candidates who are diametrically opposed to what we’re trying to accomplish here, and if there’s anything I can do to retard their progress, I will do so,” Mr. Tancredo told the Associated Press.

He said Mr. McCain meets that description.

The Arizona senator, considered a likely 2008 presidential contender, has been a leading supporter of a proposal that would create a guest-worker program and give qualified illegal aliens a chance to become citizens.

Mr. Tancredo calls such plans amnesty and earlier this year challenged Mr. McCain to debate the subject around the country.

Lieberman foe

A former Connecticut state legislator and mayor announced he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Alan Schlesinger, a former six-term state representative and mayor of Derby, becomes the second Republican hoping to unseat the Democratic incumbent, the Associated Press reports.

Anti-immigration activist Paul Streitz is also seeking the Republican nomination, while Ned Lamont, an anti-war candidate, is challenging Mr. Lieberman within the Democratic Party.

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

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