- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dangerous ground

“It’s fitting that Rep. Tom DeLay is returning to his seat on the Appropriations Committee now that he is gone for good as House majority leader,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“It was his years serving in that ‘favor factory’ that gradually turned him into a purveyor of pork who last fall claimed there was no more budget fat to cut. His departure gives Republicans a chance to return to first principles. If they don’t, they may face a political drubbing,” Mr. Fund said.

“Many Republicans have forgotten that as government grows, its increased power to grant favors or inflict pain attracts more people who would abuse the system. Sen. John McCain once told me that ‘the best long-term answer to corruption is a smaller government.’ Indeed, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff observed a decade ago, ‘More money available from government is blood in the water for sharks.’ He proved to be one hungry shark.

“If the GOP response to the Abramoff scandal is merely to enact ‘lobbying reforms,’ the party will skirt the problem that underlies the corruption: runaway spending. ‘The 2001-2005 period marks the transformation of the Republican Party from its traditional role as a win-or-lose guardian of limited government to that of a majority government party just as comfortable with big government as the Democrats, only with different spending priorities,’ says Chris DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute.

“That’s dangerous ground, given that the GOP base still believes in smaller government. Mr. Abramoff steered campaign cash to and hired staffers from members of both parties. But in 1994, after 350 members of both parties had been tarred by the House bank scandal, it was Republicans who were able to exploit it because Democrats controlled Congress.”

Teddy’s performance

“In 1987 Sen. Edward M. Kennedy crystallized opposition to a conservative Supreme Court nominee by warning that ‘Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution,’ ” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Michael McGough writes.

“Even those who denounced that indictment as a demagogic caricature of Judge Bork’s views conceded that it made for a sensational sound bite, and of course Judge Bork eventually was rejected by the Senate,” Mr. McGough noted.

“I thought of that famous Kennedy quote Thursday when I attended what was billed as a roundtable discussion (actually, four tables were arranged in a square) between Sen. Kennedy and reporters on the subject of this week’s confirmation hearings for [Judge] Samuel A. Alito Jr.

“Unlike his clarion call in 1987, Sen. Kennedy’s presentation was meandering and listless.

“It wasn’t just that the 73-year-old Democrat rewrote history and referred to the ‘Goldwater presidency’ as an inspiration to the 14-year-old Sam Alito. We all have our senior moments. Even with the hamburger helper of printed handouts, the senator’s critique of Judge Alito was strangely subdued, if not downright defeatist.

“After essentially indicting Judge Alito for a lifetime of extremism and ‘incredibility,’ Sen. Kennedy surreally suggested that he hadn’t made up his mind about whether he would vote to confirm this threat to the republic. He was content to say that Judge Alito had ‘a steep hill to climb’ at this week’s hearings. (Never mind that the only way Judge Alito could flatten that hill would be to repudiate 15 years’ worth of judicial opinions.)

“Perhaps the oddest note came when Sen. Kennedy was arguing, not implausibly, that Judge Alito has been too deferential to government authority. What else could we expect from ‘this nominee whose sole employer was the federal government?’ It was a peculiar observation from Sen. Kennedy, who has been on the federal payroll continuously for four decades.”

Military veterans

“For months, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, liberal Web logs and major media outlets have been trumpeting the large class of Democratic House candidates who are veterans of the military,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“More than three dozen non-incumbent veterans are running for Congress this year, all but a small handful of them as Democrats,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“While they have received plenty of ink, it is far from clear that any of them will win. While a few high-profile veterans, including Democrat Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, are running in open seats, most — including Democrats Tim Dunn of North Carolina, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania and Steve Filson in California — face GOP incumbents in districts that range from narrowly to reliably Republican.

“There is no reason to believe that voters will automatically see veterans as appealing candidates, or that veterans of Iraq will begin with more authority to speak about U.S. foreign policy, national security or even the war itself.”

Harry’s buddy

The American singer and activist Harry Belafonte called President Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world” on Sunday and said millions of Americans support the socialist revolution of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Belafonte led a delegation of Americans, including actor Danny Glover and Princeton University scholar Cornel West, that met the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday. Some in the group attended Mr. Chavez’s television and radio broadcast Sunday, the Associated Press reports.

“No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we’re here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution,” Mr. Belafonte told Mr. Chavez during the broadcast.

Arnold shaken up

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t plan to change his schedule even though he received 15 stitches on his lip for injuries sustained when his motorcycle collided with a car, his spokeswoman said.

The governor was expected to keep his appointments yesterday, spokeswoman Margita Thompson said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger was riding his motorcycle Sunday with his 12-year-old son, Patrick, in the sidecar, when a car backed out of a driveway in Brentwood, the spokeswoman said. “The governor was unable to avoid the vehicle in his path and collided with it at a low speed.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger and his son, who were wearing helmets, were treated for cuts and bruises at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and released, the Associated Press reports.

The car’s driver was uninjured. No citations were issued, police Officer Jason Lee said.

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

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