- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

‘Nasty’ Harry

“When Senate Democrats selected Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to be their leader, journalists and political insiders noted his red-state credentials, opposition to abortion and soft-spoken style as perfect qualities for a party seeking to broaden its appeal,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Almost immediately, a front-page New York Times story suggested that ‘Reid’s amiability might make it harder for the White House to demonize him.’ Sen. BenNelson (D-Neb.) compared him to TV’s Mister Rogers.

“Another senator said the new leader would likely give voice to the party’s moderates — not a surprising conclusion given Reid’s willingness over the years to work with Republicans on everything from water issues and welfare reform to late-term abortion and flag desecration,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“But now, with the Senate deeply divided along partisan lines and Reid charged with leading the fight against President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) — with whom Reid has had ‘a complete falling out,’ according to one knowledgeable Democrat — the Nevada senator sounds more and more like a boilerplate, blue-state Democrat.

“The language of the new Reid is less measured and far nastier than that of his predecessor, Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and the new minority leader is far more combative and confrontational than his recent Senate minority leader predecessors.”

The columnist added: “Reid has always been direct to the point of bluntness. He has always been partisan, even though he sometimes worked with and voted with Republicans. He’s always been tough. But over the past year, Reid has sounded nasty, even mean.”

Gore’s movie

Paramount’s new specialty division has acquired worldwide rights to the global-warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” featuring Al Gore, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The film, which had its world premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, presents the global-warming issue through the eyes of the former vice president.

Paramount specialty division president John Lesher called the film “a visually mesmerizing and shocking look at the serious and dire state of our planet.” He added, “We are very proud to help Al Gore expose the urgency of global warming to the widest possible audience.”

Rodale Books will publish “An Inconvenient Truth,” Mr. Gore’s follow-up to his best-seller “Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit,” which was published by Plume Books in 1992. Release of the book will coincide with release of the film, scheduled for May 26.

Hackett bows out

Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, a Bush administration critic who had been recruited by top Democrats to run for U.S. Senate from Ohio, said Tuesday he was reluctantly dropping his campaign and declared his political career over.

Mr. Hackett said he was pressured by party leaders to drop out of the Senate primary and run for the House against Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt instead.

National Democratic leaders, especially Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, added to that pressure by telling his top fundraisers to stop sending money, Mr. Hackett said.

“My donor base and host base on both coasts was contacted by elected officials and asked to stop giving,” Mr. Hackett told the Associated Press. “The original promise to me from Schumer was that I would have no financial concerns. It went from that to Senator Schumer actually working against my ability to raise money.”

A spokesman for Mr. Schumer denied that his boss took sides in the race, AP said.

Able Danger

Intelligence gathered for Able Danger, the Defense Department’s operation to track al Qaeda in the years before the September 11 attacks, identified ringleader Mohamed Atta 13 times before that date, Rep. Curt Weldon said yesterday.

Hearings on Able Danger begin today before a panel from the House Armed Services Committee, and Mr. Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, said he expects witnesses to tell the extent of the program and to expose a massive hole in the investigation of the September 11 commission, which looked at failures of U.S. intelligence in the run-up to the attacks.

It’s the culmination of a months-long effort by Mr. Weldon to win attention for the program.

“I’m here to announce the hearing that everyone said would never occur. That will begin tomorrow,” he said.

Mr. Weldon said commission staff were told of Able Danger weeks before their final report but declined to follow up.

He also said Able Danger found out al Qaeda was planning an operation in Yemen two weeks before the USS Cole was bombed, and two days before the bombing, Able Danger knew there was supposed to be an attack against a “U.S. platform” in Aden.

Gore’s speech

“What possesses a former vice president of the U.S. to travel to the birthplace of Islamist terrorism and denounce his country? Only a special breed of demons, apparently, can explain Al Gore,” Investor’s Business Daily says in an editorial.

“The chief demon, of course, surely must be Gore’s continuing quest for the presidency. Embittered he may well be by his loss of the highest office six years ago. But showing such supreme disloyalty to his country, as he did in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, cannot be condoned as an honorable means of pursuing the prize once more,” the newspaper said.

“Speaking at the Jiddah Economic Forum, an event staged by oil-rich Saudi royalty, Gore indicted the American government for its ‘terrible abuses’ of Arabs since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Such treatment, he charged, played into the hands of al Qaeda.

“And just what was the nature of these abuses? Arabs had been ‘indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.’

“Understand: 15 of the 19 al Qaeda hijackers on that fateful day, a day that saw 3,000 Americans go to their fiery deaths, a day that created thousands more orphans, were Saudi citizens. Those hijackers lived undetected in this country precisely because immigration authorities had been permissive. So Gore believes the tightening of the rules, post-9/11, was one of a series of ‘terrible abuses’?”

Gallbladder surgery

Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky had his gallbladder removed yesterday and is expected to be back at work next week. Mr. Fletcher, 53, was in good spirits after the surgery, though a little groggy from the anesthesia, said wife Glenna.

The Republican had a gallstone taken out Monday, and doctors at St. Joseph’s East Hospital in Lexington advised him to have his gallbladder removed to prevent further stones, the Associated Press reports.

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

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