- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

An ‘inquisition’

What’s happening to Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, “can only be described as an inquisition,” New York Times columnist David Brooks writes.

“Whether you agree with him or not, he is transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men. But over the past few years he has been subjected to a vituperation campaign that only experts in moral manias and mob psychology are really fit to explain. I can’t reproduce the typical assaults that have been directed at him over the Internet, because they are so laced with profanity and ugliness, but they are ginned up by ideological masseurs who salve their followers’ psychic wounds by arousing their rage at objects of mutual hate,” Mr. Brooks said.

“Next has come the effort to expel Lieberman from modern liberalism. In a dark parody of the old struggle between Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, the highly educated, highly affluent, highly Caucasian wing of the Democratic Party has turned liberalism from a philosophy into a secular religion, and then sought to purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity.

“So these days, for example, one hears that Lieberman is a crypto-conservative, a Bible-Belter. In reality, of course, this is a man who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. He has a Christian Coalition rating of 0.

“But a lifetime’s record is deemed not to matter any longer. For in the midst of the inquisition all of American liberalism has been reduced to one issue, the war.”

DeLay’s plan

Tom DeLay is planning an aggressive campaign to retake the House seat he quit in June if an appeals court lets stand a ruling by a federal judge last week that his name must stay on the November ballot, a source close to the former congressman tells Time magazine.

Mr. DeLay says he has moved to Virginia, but the federal judge pointed out that he and his wife still own a house in the Texas district.

“If it isn’t overturned, Katy, bar the door,” says a Republican official. “Guess he’ll have to fire up the engines on the campaign and let ‘er rip.”

But to run, Mr. DeLay would have to raise money fast: His campaign fund has less than $1 million left, Time said. At least he knows his would-be opponent well: former Rep. Nick Lampson’s original district was eliminated in a redistricting engineered by Mr. DeLay.

Holiday tradition

“We seem to have a new national holiday tradition: No holiday is complete without front-page allegations of an atrocity committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“A month ago, Memorial Day arrived along with Haditha, a place in western Iraq where hundreds of Memorial-weekend news reports said a military investigation had concluded that Marines ‘wantonly killed unarmed civilians,’ among them ‘women and children.’ This past Fourth of July, along with the skyrockets’ red glare came news that a former Army private had been charged in Charlotte, N.C., with committing rape and murder while he was in Iraq. Labor Day awaits,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Rather than let the charges against the private run like a tape-loop over a long, news-dead weekend, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, appeared Fourth of July morning on both NBC and CBS. After CBS’ Harry Smith professed himself perplexed at how all this atrocity stuff was happening now, Gen. Pace said that ‘99.9 percent’ of the men and women in Iraq were serving with honor and promised he would ‘get to the bottom’ of the allegations.

“Military specialists will output case studies for years on how Iraq has altered the way war is waged by Americans — on the battlefield and on the home front. Most interesting to know would be whether the war as perceived at home and the war as fought daily by our soldiers in Iraq became two separate realms of consciousness, the former barely related to the reality of the latter.”

Bush’s rise

“For the moment, the issue agenda has turned favorable for Bush and thus for Republicans,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“His best issue is national security and the war on terror, and the Supreme Court pushed that issue front and center. While striking down the administration’s plan for prosecuting terrorists held in Guantanamo, the court said Congress could authorize and set the rules for prosecutions. And that’s what Congress will try to do this month, no doubt with extended debate on how to deal with terrorists,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Meanwhile, the New York Times has legitimized White House press bashing by disclosing a secret program for tracking al Qaeda money transfers. When your enemies are liberals on the Supreme Court and in the media, even disgruntled conservatives tend to rally to your side.

“At worst, Bush has bottomed out. At best, he’s on his way to renewed popularity. ‘We’ve stopped our fall and begun to gain back ground,’ a White House official says. ‘But we need to make more progress between now and November 1.’ For one thing, Bush needs to pick up another 5 percentage points or more in approval from likely voters and perhaps as many as 10 points among adults, the group normally sampled by media pollsters. Either way, that would put him in the high 40s, a lofty enough level to assure Republicans he won’t be a drag in the election.”

Hopeful Huckabee

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is optimistic the legislature quickly will reinstate a ban on same-sex couples serving as foster parents in his state.

“What we are talking about is whether the state should place a child in a relationship that is not recognized by the state as a marriage,” the Republican governor, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, told the Associated Press on Saturday.

The Arkansas Supreme Court last month struck down regulations banning the placement of foster children with same-sex couples. The court said state officials went too far in imposing the ban, but the court did not rule on the merit of the ban.

Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister who is leaving office next year because of term limits, has said that there is little doubt the legislature will reinstate the ban and that the courts eventually will uphold it.

“Our attorneys read into that that if it was legislation, it would likely stand, that we could in fact say that only married couples could be foster parents,” Mr. Huckabee said. “We think that if we go back and codify that into law, that probably takes care of it.”

Mr. Huckabee spoke as he opened a three-day campaign swing in Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the presidential nominating season.

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

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