- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006

McKinney scuffle

A lawyer familiar with the case said yesterday that a federal grand jury soon will begin hearing evidence about Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney’s run-in with a Capitol Police officer, the Associated Press reports.

The lawyer, who declined to be identified because of grand jury secrecy, confirmed that federal prosecutors had agreed to get involved in the case in which the black lawmaker is accused of striking a white officer after he tried to stop her from entering a House office building without going through a security checkpoint.

Capitol Police have turned the case over to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein, who must decide whether to clear the way for any charges against the Georgia Democrat.

Understanding DeLay

Rep. Tom DeLay’s resignation brings his political career to an end — and a defiantly old-fashioned career it was,” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

“Liberals and left-wingers who long reviled DeLay never really understood him. For that matter, principled conservatives who might have thought he was their ideological savior didn’t get DeLay either,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“He wasn’t in it for money: He had plenty when he got into politics, and could have quit at any moment to make tens of millions more as a lobbyist.

“Nor was he in it to advance the conservative cause, as he has always been quite malleable ideologically — doing everything he could to force the Medicare prescription-drug benefit through Congress, for example.

“Even though Democrats on Capitol Hill practically spit when his name is mentioned, DeLay was the official primarily responsible for the wild run-up in the number of ‘earmarked’ pork projects — which benefited Republicans and Democrats alike and has helped contribute to a re-election rate to the House of Representatives approaching 100 percent.

“Until he was forced out of his Republican leadership position due to a shockingly scummy indictment by a politically motivated prosecutor, DeLay was what people used to call a Boss. And, like the great bosses of the past, DeLay had one great love — a love of party.”

Scoring leaders

Thirty-eight House Republicans and 12 Senate Republicans earned perfect scores from the American Conservative Union for their votes in 2005, the ACU announced yesterday.

The number of House members with a 100 percent rating fell from 48 in 2004. “Yet, both years represented more conservatism than in 2003, when only two congressmen received perfect scores,” ACU Chairman David A. Keene said.

Newly elected House Majority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana were among those receiving perfect scores.

The total of 12 Republican senators who received a 100 percent conservative rating marked a rise from eight in 2004 and none in 2003, Mr. Keene said.

The top-rated senators were George Allen of Virginia, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Conrad Burns of Montana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, John Ensign of Nevada, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Mel Martinez of Florida, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

The rating encompasses three categories: economic and budget matters; social and cultural issues; and defense and foreign policy. Within these categories, ACU selects 25 votes based on the following question: Does the vote reflect a clear ideological principle? While the ACU tends to select votes on important matters, the votes are not necessarily on key issues.

Ratings from 1971 through 2005 are available at www.acuratings.org.

Try, try again

President Bush, speaking in Connecticut, rallied support yesterday for expanding health savings accounts — an idea that congressional Republicans rebuffed last month.

“I urge the Congress to look at ways to strengthen health savings accounts,” Mr. Bush said in a state with an estimated 400,000 residents who have no health insurance. “I’m looking forward to continuing to have a consumer-driven system to be the heart of American health care.”

These accounts let people who have high-deductible health insurance policies save money, tax-free, for future health care expenses.

The Senate’s top tax writer, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, however, has cast doubt that lawmakers can enact Mr. Bush’s proposals to expand health savings accounts during this election year.

Mr. Bush spoke in Bridgeport, which is in the home district of Rep. Christopher Shays, who is facing Democrat Diane Farrell in a tight race being monitored by both parties.

“He is an independent fellow who speaks his mind, but he does so in a way that gets people to listen to him,” Mr. Bush said of Mr. Shays, who accompanied the president to Connecticut aboard Air Force One.

Buckley on Hillary

William F. Buckley Jr., the longtime conservative writer and leader, said that while a strong Republican candidate for the 2008 presidential race has yet to emerge, the Democrats have in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a true contender to become the first woman elected president, Bloomberg News reports.

“I don’t find a commanding presence sort of knocking on the door” for the next presidential campaign, Mr. Buckley said in an interview broadcast yesterday on Bloomberg Television.

The New York senator is “a very consequential woman with an extraordinary background,” he said. “Her thought is kind of woozy left, not in my judgment threatening.”

She is “a phenomenon, a woman candidate who might easily be president,” Mr. Buckley said.

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

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