- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wait ‘til next year

Democrats have put off an announcement on choosing a 2008 national convention site until early January, hard-pressed to pick between Denver and New York, officials said yesterday.

Party officials have been negotiating for months with host committees for New York and Denver, but a series of problems with Denver’s bid — and a significant cooling of interest from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — led Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to seek more time to make a decision, the Associated Press reports.

“Because of the holiday week, and at the request of both cities, we will announce the convention city in early January,” Mr. Dean said.

Barr’s switch

“I chose to join the Libertarian Party because at this time in our nation’s history, it’s fundamentally essential to join a party, work with a party, that’s 100 percent committed to protecting liberty,” former Rep. Bob Barr said in an online interview with David Weigel of Reason magazine (www.reason.com).

“As great as the Republican Party is — and I have been fortunate to work with that party for many years and still have the highest regard for it — the Constitution is under such assault in this day and age,” Mr. Barr said. “In order to have any chance of saving the Constitution and our civil liberties, we need a party dedicated to that cause.”

The former Georgia congressman who helped lead the 1998 impeachment of President Clinton said he disagrees with some Libertarians over drug policy and same-sex unions, but added: “Over the last couple of years, and definitely during this election cycle in particular, there’s been a great number of Americans who are disappointed in both major parties. And they’re hungry for a new approach, a new party, as it were, truly committed to substantive ideas, and not just to getting elected and focusing on their particular election cycles.”

Mum’s the word

The White House yesterday defended Laura Bush’s decision not to disclose she had a skin cancer tumor removed from her right shin in early November.

The first lady is not an elected official, presidential spokesman Tony Snow said. “Perhaps if there’s something more major, this would be discussed,” he said.

The cancer was a squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, said Susan Whitson, her press secretary. She said the troublesome patch was about the size of a nickel.

Mrs. Bush decided the cancer was a private matter and did not reveal it publicly. On Monday night, the White House acknowledged the first lady had the tumor removed after Mrs. Bush was noticed with a bandage below her right knee.

The spokeswoman said the first lady was still wearing a bandage more than five weeks after the incision because the skin on that part of the leg is thin and “it takes a little while to heal.” Asked if plastic surgery might be required, she said, “No further procedures are needed at this point.”

A squamous cell carcinoma is a tumor that affects the middle layer of the skin. It is more aggressive than basal cell cancer, the most common form of skin cancer. Squamous cell cancer is more likely than basal cell cancer to spread to other locations, so patients need to have lymph nodes in the region near the tumor routinely examined, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Web site.

“I think you guys are trying to whip this up into something much larger than it is,” Mr. Snow told reporters who questioned why the procedure had not been revealed earlier.

French connection

One is French. One is American. Both may become the first female presidents of their respective countries. But will Segolene Royal and Hillary Rodham Clinton support or snub each other in their battle?

Speculation about the power women’s relationship rose in France after a newspaper said Miss Royal had postponed a U.S. trip planned for this month because Mrs. Clinton did not want to see her, Reuters news agency reports.

Socialist regional leader Miss Royal, 53, a relative political newcomer with little foreign-policy experience, has made little secret of the fact that she would like to meet with Mrs. Clinton to bolster her international credentials.

But after gaffes by Miss Royal on a trip to the Middle East, the Democratic senator from New York, who is thought to be eyeing a White House bid in 2008, was less than enthusiastic about being seen with the French candidate, Le Parisien daily reported over the weekend, quoting a Clinton adviser.

“Hillary, whose candidature is far from assured, is very vigilant and cannot afford the slightest false move,” it quoted the adviser as saying. “She does not want to be associated with Royal’s recent comments. It wouldn’t be good for her image.”

A spokesman for Miss Royal said her trip, which was announced last month, had been postponed for scheduling reasons. He declined to give details.

Philippe Reines, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said in Washington, “There was never a meeting planned or scheduled.”

Miss Royal received criticism from her political opponents after she apparently agreed with comments from a Lebanese Hezbollah politician condemning U.S. foreign policy. Analysts said it could be risky for a U.S. candidate to be linked to her.

Road rage

A Republican state lawmaker wants to remove Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney’s name from a metro Atlanta road, saying she “has brought embarrassment to the state of Georgia,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

State Rep. Len Walker introduced a resolution that would switch Cynthia McKinney Parkway back to its original name — Memorial Drive — partly to honor victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Her tenure in Congress has been marked by controversies and rhetoric that has brought embarrassment to the state of Georgia,” Mr. Walker, a United Methodist minister, said Monday.

Mr. Walker specifically cited an incident from March when the Democratic congresswoman struck a Capitol Hill police officer. (A grand jury declined to indict Mrs. McKinney for the incident.) Mr. Walker also called Mrs. McKinney’s recent bill to impeach President Bush “another example of the congresswoman’s outrageous behavior.”

Mrs. McKinney’s office did not respond to requests for comment Monday, the newspaper said. The congresswoman is leaving office after losing in a contentious Democratic primary runoff for her seat this summer to Hank Johnson, a former DeKalb County commissioner.

Three-ring circus

“All told, next year promises to be the most exciting odd-numbered year in American politics in decades,” analyst Charlie Cook writes at www.nationaljournal.com.

“It will be a virtual three-ring circus, with battles on Capitol Hill and the contests for the Republican and Democratic nominations ensuring that there will never be a dull moment,” Mr. Cook said.

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

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