- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

Rangel’s gamble

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a senior Democrat in Congress and the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, said yesterday he’ll retire if the Democrats don’t retake control of the House this year.

“I’m a poker player and I’ve had good hands all night long. This is all in,” Mr. Rangel told the Associated Press. “I would not put everything on the table if I thought for one minute we would lose.”

Mr. Rangel, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, is 76 years old and has spent 35 years in Congress. The Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the 2006 midterm election to retake control of the House — a victory that would return Mr. Rangel to the chairmanship of the powerful committee.

“… If we don’t take back the House, then the Democrats would go down in history, saying that there’s no group in the world that can grab defeat from the jaws of victory,” Mr. Rangel told the AP. “It just seems like America is so frustrated and fed up like I am and if she’s not, then I may have to say maybe it’s me.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was with Mr. Rangel at a Harlem church on Sunday, and he never mentioned the possibility of leaving Congress.

“That was news to me,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We’re counting on winning, and we’re working very hard in that regard. And when we do, he’ll make a great chair of the Ways and Means Committee.”

Harsh words

The American Conservative magazine, in its latest issue, asked 30 pundits from across the political spectrum to answer two questions:

1. Are the designations “liberal” and “conservative” still useful? Why or why not?

2. Does a binary left/right political spectrum describe the full range of ideological options. Is it still applicable?

As might be expected, there was considerable disagreement on the answers, but perhaps of more interest was the harsh tone of some conservatives toward President Bush and today’s conservative movement in general.

Jeffrey Hart, a senior editor of National Review, had this to say: “The common denominator of successful presidents, liberal or conservative, has been that they were realists. Because Bush is an ideologue remote from fact, he has failed comprehensively and surely is the worst president in American history — indeed, in the damage he has caused to the nation, without a rival in the race for the bottom. Because Bush is generally called a conservative, he will have poisoned the term for decades to come.”

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., president of the Ludgwig von Mises Institute and editor of LewRockwell.com, said: “A crude form of Hobbesianism has corrupted every conservative thinker in this country. They sincerely believe that it is not liberty that gives rise to civilization but state-generated law, without which society would crumble. So when push comes to shove, they defend the state, no matter how bloody it becomes.”

He added: “Do you protest? Have I misstated your own political views? You truly love liberty and hate the state and all its works? Good. Bail out of conservatism. Call yourself a libertarian, a liberal, an anarchist, an independent, a revolutionary, a Jeffersonian radical. Or make up your own name. But please, wake up and smell the massive espresso: When it comes to mindless party loyalty, conservatism today is as bad as communism ever was.”

Harris’ subpoena

U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris,Florida Republican, received a grand jury subpoena from federal investigators but kept it from her top campaign advisers, leading to the latest round of staff departures last month, a former aide said.

“Yes, there was a subpoena. She didn’t tell us,” former campaign manager Glenn Hodas told the Tampa Tribune for a story published yesterday.

Mr. Hodas, who resigned from the Republican congresswoman’s Senate campaign in July along with the spokesman, did not return phone calls yesterday from the Associated Press.

The Justice Department is investigating Mrs. Harris’ dealings with Mitchell Wade, a defense contractor who later pleaded guilty to bribing another congressman. Mr. Hodas did not say whether the subpoena was linked to that probe.

Mrs. Harris was reached on her cell phone yesterday by AP, but said she had a bad connection and referred the call to her campaign office.

Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Marks yesterday repeated an earlier statement that said Mrs. Harris is cooperating with the investigation but is “not a target,” and declined to comment further.

The spokeswoman declined to answer a question about whether Mrs. Harris received the subpoena and said Mrs. Harris would not be available to comment because her personal schedule was too busy.

Dissent on Israel

Some advisers to the first President Bush disagree with his son’s Israel policies, the New York Times reports.

Richard Haas, who advised the first President Bush on the Middle East and worked as a senior State Department official in the current president’s first term, does not like the way the administration is handling the Lebanon crisis.

“The current approach simply is not leading toward a solution to the crisis, or even a winding down of the crisis,” Mr. Haas told the newspaper. “There are times at which a hands-off policy can be justified. It’s not obvious to me that this is one of them.”

Aaron David Miller, an Arab-Israeli negotiator for both Bush administrations, objects to this administration’s close ties to Israel.

“There is a danger in a policy in which there is no daylight whatsoever between the government of Israel and the government of the United States,” he said. “Bush One and [his Secretary of State] James Baker would never have allowed that to happen.”

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to the first President Bush, wrote an article in The Washington Post on Sunday urging the United States to “seize this opportunity” to reach a comprehensive settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Blackface blogger

Hollywood producer and liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, who has moved to Connecticut to support Ned Lamont’s challenge to Sen. Joe Lieberman in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, yesterday wrote an article for HuffingtonPost.com that criticized Mr. Lieberman for being “an integral part of the GOP’s bully machine for the past six years.”

To illustrate her contempt for the three-term incumbent, Miss Hamsher posted a photo of a smiling Mr. Lieberman with former President Bill Clinton — retouched to portray Mr. Lieberman in blackface.

“I am so sure the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP and the civil rights brigade will be protesting this disgusting use of blackface in political discourse,” syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin wrote on her Web site (www.michellemalkin.com). “Oh, wait, never mind. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are campaigning against Lieberman, too.”

The photo was later removed from HuffingtonPost.com, without explanation.

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

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