- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Bonior and Edwards

Former Rep. David E. Bonior, a one-time leader in Congress who has close ties to labor unions, has signed on to manage a future John Edwards presidential campaign.

Mr. Edwards hasn’t announced a repeat of his 2004 presidential bid yet, but an Edwards adviser said last week that Mr. Bonior will manage the effort if Mr. Edwards decides to run. In the meantime, Mr. Bonior has signed on as a senior adviser to Mr. Edwards’ leadership PAC, the One America Committee, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Bonior represented Detroit’s northern suburbs for 26 years in the House, rising to be the No. 2 Democrat before stepping down in 2002 for an unsuccessful campaign for Michigan governor. Mr. Bonior was a leading advocate for labor unions, a constituency that Mr. Edwards has aggressively been courting.

No mercy

With Republicans on Capitol Hill trying to spend like Democrats and Democrats trying to be as tough as Republicans in the war on terror, the grand difference between the two parties may come down to a matter of scheduling, reports Charles Hurt of The Washington Times.

Republicans prefer to keep lawmakers out of Washington, since that’s usually where they do all the damage, and Democrats want members chained to their desks so they can churn out innumerable pages of new federal laws.

“It is appropriate that the do-nothing Congress is ending by doing nothing,” incoming House Majority LeaderSteny H. Hoyer said yesterday, discussing this final week’s slim agenda.

“I have bad news for you,” the Maryland Democrat said. “Those trips you had planned in January? Forget ‘em. We will be working almost every day in January.”

In a roomful of reporters who have grown accustomed to short workweeks and bankers’ hours under Republican rule, the groans were audible.

Then, he laid out the Democratic vision for five-day workweeks as far as the eye can see.

“Monday through Friday?” asked one stunned reporter.

“You will not be excited about it,” Mr. Hoyer observed.

“You sound like the principal,” complained another reporter.

“I know,” Mr. Hoyer said. “It’s awful, isn’t it? I presumably have some authority over the schedule, and I don’t like it.”

Faux centrists

“Here comes the 2008 presidential cycle, and on cue, Associated Press reporters are finding ‘centrists’ in the race whose voting records are NOT a 50-50 mishmash of conservative and liberal,” the Media Research Center’s Tim Graham writes at www.mrc.org.

“This cycle’s ‘centrist’ contenders are Hillary Clinton (actually strongly, staunchly liberal) and Evan Bayh (liberal most of the time.)

“In a Monday dispatch, AP reporter Beth Fouhy stressed that Hillary Clinton won ‘even the most conservative areas of her adopted home state of New York,’ but there are drawbacks: ‘Despite her centrist six-year Senate voting record, Clinton’s reputation remains deeply rooted in her polarizing eight years as first lady.’ ”

“AP does the same for Sen. Evan Bayh … ‘The 50-year-old senator has charted a centrist’s course throughout his political career, including two terms as governor and eight years in the Senate.’

“But the American Conservative Union’s voting index doesn’t match these assessments. Sen. Bayh’s lifetime ACU rating is 21 percent conservative, so he votes the liberal position about four of every five Senate votes they’ve counted. Hillary Clinton has a lifetime ACU rating of 9 percent, or 91 percent liberal. In 2005, Bayh was a 20. Hillary was a 12.

“Or consult Americans with Democratic Action, the liberal vote-counters. Did they find Evan and Hillary in the center? On their 2005 tally, Hillary Clinton is one of 22 ‘Senate Heroes’ who scored a perfect 100 percent with the liberal group. Evan Bayh scored a less-than-centrist 95.”

Still spending

The Senate Budget Committee chairman yesterday chastised his party for trying to tack big-ticket spending items onto end-of-the-year legislation, even though November’s election sent a clear message about the need for fiscal discipline, reports Amy Fagan of The Washington Times.

“One of the messages out of the last election was that they expected Congress to be fiscally responsible, especially Republicans,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican and outgoing budget panel chairman. He said he hopes Republicans can stick to responsible budgeting in these waning days of their majority rule. “If we can’t have it now, when can we have it?” he told reporters in a briefing yesterday.

Specifically, Mr. Gregg is concerned that Republicans are adding a $4.8 billion disaster-relief package for farmers to the agriculture spending bill, without cutting agriculture spending in other areas — a move he called “excessive, inappropriate” and “a payoff” to farm groups.

He also said there is talk of adding extra items to a popular package of tax-cut extensions that lawmakers are trying to approve this week. Among the items that could catch a ride on the tax-cut bill is a proposal to overhaul the program that provides health care benefits to retired coal miners, which would cost about $4 billion in extra spending, Mr. Gregg said.

Viguerie’s lament

Richard A. Viguerie, author of “Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause,” yesterday bemoaned the resignation of John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations:

“There are only a mere handful of conservatives in significant policy-making positions in the Bush Administration. The withdrawal of Ambassador Bolton means there is one less,” Mr. Viguerie said. “This is very discouraging to conservatives. Instead of fighting for Ambassador Bolton’s confirmation, the Bush administration has once again thrown in the towel.”

Bayh’s step

Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, announced yesterday that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee.

Mr. Bayh filed federal papers that allow him to raise money and hire staff for a White House run. He is the second Democrat to take a formal step toward a run, after Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s official announcement of his candidacy last week.

Mr. Bayh, who has been traveling to states with early nominating contests and gauging support for a presidential run for more than a year, said he would make a final decision early next month.

Full-scale’ Sam

Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, billed himself as a “full-scale conservative” yesterday as he courted activists in the state that holds the nation’s first caucuses, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Brownback said the lessons Republicans should take from their November election defeats is that they face enormous trouble when the party’s conservative base isn’t energized.

“Our ideas weren’t repudiated; our execution was,” he told Linn County Republicans in a trip to Iowa. “Our base was lethargic because of too much spending and the Washington corruption cases.”

Mr. Brownback filed papers Monday creating an exploratory committee allowing him to travel the country and raise money for a possible 2008 White House run.

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

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