- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

Dean’s latest line

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in criticizing government eavesdropping on domestic phone calls involving terror suspects overseas, likened President Bush to the leader of Iran.

“All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran, where the president can do anything he wants,” Mr. Dean said yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The Republican National Committee immediately fired back at Mr. Dean.

“Chairman Dean’s outrageous comparison today between the United States and Iran is reckless and wrong,” RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said. “By equating the United States of America to an oppressive regime that promotes anti-Semitism, suppresses women and restricts free speech, Howard Dean continues to lower the bar for political discourse in this country. The question for Democrats is, do they stand beside their party chairman and his latest wild-eyed attack?”

Scandalous behavior

“Mark Antony in his famous funeral oration in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ says that he came not to praise Caesar, but to bury him. This week, at the funeral for the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, two of the speakers, Jimmy Carter and Rev. Joseph Lowery, might have opened their remarks by saying that they came not to bury Coretta Scott King, but to bash [President] Bush, which is exactly what they proceeded to do,” Lee Harris writes at www.tcsdaily.com.

“They exploited a solemn occasion in order to take cheap pot shots at the president, keenly aware that their remarks would be broadcast around the world, and into many American classrooms,” the writer said.

“Of course, both Carter and Lowery were also aware that the target of their attack, George W. Bush, was sitting right behind them. Had he not been present on the occasion, their Bush-bashing would have only been an affront to good taste.

“But because Bush had come there to honor the memory of Coretta Scott King, and not to engage in a debate with his political opponents, the attacks on him crossed the boundaries of mere bad taste, and became low blows. They were deliberately attacking a man who they knew could not, under the circumstances, defend himself against their assault. Their aim was quite obvious — to embarrass and humiliate Bush in the full knowledge that there was not a thing Bush could decently do about it.

“The president, for example, could not do what most people, including myself, would have done. He could not jump up and simply walk out — that would have created a scandal. Therefore, he had no choice but to sit there and take it. He was hopelessly trapped, and was entirely at the mercy of his assailants — and they knew it. He had to behave like the president, even when a former president, Mr. Carter, was behaving like a cad.”

Cheney rethinks?

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has issued repeated Shermanesque statements that he will not run for president in 2008, said last night that he may be rethinking his position.

Almost.

After a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Northwest gave him a rousing standing ovation before his speech last night, the vice president was moved.

“Getting a reception like that almost makes me want to run for office again,” he said with a wry smile.

As the crowd again erupted in applause, he cut them off — “Almost,” he said loudly, drawing laughter.

The vice president gave the Republican rank and file the same message his boss, President Bush, has for the past few months — extend the tax cuts, renew the USA Patriot Act and stay the course in Iraq.

Taking a dig at the more liberal Massachusetts senator, Mr. Cheney said U.S. troops have received “mixed signals out of Washington.”

“They have at times been unfairly criticized, as when John Kerry said on national television that American soldiers were, quote, terrorizing Iraqi women and children in their homes.” The crowd booed lustily.

But he said that under Mr. Bush’s leadership, “We are in this fight to win, and we are winning.”

For those in Washington who say the war in Iraq is a distraction, he said: “Which part of the war on terror do they consider worth fighting?”

Surveillance poll

President Bush’s campaign to convince Americans that the government’s terrorist surveillance program is essential to national security has had an effect: Last month, people disapproved, 56 percent to 42 percent. Now it’s basically tied.

In the poll of 1,000 adults taken from Monday to Wednesday, 50 percent said the administration “should be required to get a warrant” before monitoring Americans’ communications involving terror suspects. Forty-eight percent said officials “should be allowed to monitor without a warrant.” The two-point gap is less than the poll’s margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Mr. Bush has been particularly successful at making his case to core supporters, including Republicans, white evangelicals and suburban men. Support in each category grew more than 10 percentage points in the past month, the Associated Press reports.

Land of the free

It’s all about the freebies for hundreds of activists attending this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest.

Conference attendees get a canvas tote bag full of goodies, including a 2006 calendar from the National Taxpayers Union, mints from TV Watch and a pink toy pig from Americans for Limited Government.

The Young America’s Foundation booth was doing brisk business with a “buy one, get one free” deal on posters. Those who bought YAF’s eye-catching Ann Coulter poster could have their free pick of a Ronald Reagan poster or a President Bush poster.

Meanwhile, at the booth of Nashville-based publisher Nelson Current, author Joel Miller was giving away T-shirts to promote his new book, which was subtitled, “How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America’s Families, Finances and Freedom.”

For some reason, Mr. Miller’s T-shirts were especially popular with ladies at CPAC. Maybe it’s because the shirts are hot pink. But it also might have something to do with the book title, boldly displayed on the front of the T-shirts: “Size Matters.”

No-go

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said yesterday that she will not run for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, Reuters news agency reports.

Mrs. Sheehan, speaking in front of San Francisco City Hall, said, “If I thought that running for Senate would bring our young people home more quickly, I would do it in a minute, but I am not convinced that that would do so.”

Mrs. Sheehan in recent weeks had expressed interest in challenging Mrs. Feinstein, who does not favor an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

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

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