- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hating Joe

Why do liberal Democrats hate Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman? Because Mr. Lieberman is a “Fox News Democrat,” left-wing blogger Duncan “Atrios” Black (www.atrios.blogspot.com) explained in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times.

“For too long, he has defined his image by distancing himself from other Democrats, cozying up to right-wing media figures and, at key moments, directing his criticisms at members of his own party instead of at the Republicans in power,” says Mr. Black, a British-born academic who now works at Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group.

“Late last year, after President Bush’s job approval ratings hit record lows, Lieberman decided to lash out at the administration’s critics, writing in the ultraconservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages that ‘we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.’ In this he echoed the most toxic of Republican talking points — that criticizing the conduct of the war is actually damaging to national security.

“Lieberman looks happiest when playing a ‘Fox News Democrat,’ as he did in a February appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio program, during which the two exchanged compliments and expressions of friendship and Hannity offered to campaign for him.”

Rupert and Hillary

“Two of the most public people in the world had a chummy breakfast [Monday], but media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Sen. Hillary Clinton tried to keep their political get-together as secret as possible,” the New York Daily News reports.

“There were no Fox News cameras to record the odd couple breaking bread together at Murdoch’s News Corp. headquarters in midtown, where, after years of attacking her, the conservative Murdoch hosted a fundraiser for Clinton’s Democratic Senate campaign,” reporter Helen Kennedy said.

“The campaign refused to even confirm the time or location of the controversial fundraiser. No estimate of the take or number of people who attended was released.

“New York’s junior senator did not make an appearance on ‘Fox and Friends’ on her way out of the building just after 10 a.m. She didn’t even go through the News Corp. lobby, slipping out a side door onto W. 48th Street, where the CBS show ‘Without a Trace’ was filming up the block.

“Fans of Clinton and Murdoch were shocked and upset when the fundraiser was announced, and the senator and the mogul have since sought to downplay the event.

“Murdoch insists he is stuffing more cash into Clinton’s overflowing coffers simply because she’s an effective senator.

“After hosting Clinton, Murdoch was expected a few blocks north at a Republican Senate campaign fundraising luncheon featuring Clinton’s rival in the 2008 presidential opinion polls, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

“Asked whether Murdoch was playing both sides of the street, McCain said with a smile, ‘He’s a great American.’ ”

Schumer’s lament

“It was a bit startling the other morning to hear Sen. Charles Schumer of New York — the garrulous poster boy of Democratic liberalism — intone that New Deal Democracy is over. But also, he added just as surprisingly, so is Reagan Republicanism,” syndicated columnist Jules Witcover writes.

“Schumer, who as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is charged with leading his party’s effort to retake control of the Senate in November, was in a reflective mood. He said he was looking past that critical challenge to the longer-term prospects of the party, and he didn’t sound optimistic,” the columnist said.

“As important as it was to regain a majority in the Senate to put the brakes on President Bush in his final two White House years, Schumer said, the greater test for Democrats was to connect with average voters in a time of his party’s disconnect with them.

“At a breakfast with political reporters, the free-wheeling New Yorker said the Democrats have relied too long on the Franklin D. Roosevelt formula of patching together ‘a conglomeration of groups’ with special concerns as the route to electoral dominance.

“‘We stopped being Democrats talking to small people on the issues’ as Reagan so effectively did, he argued. Then he launched into a monologue on his party’s failure — and the Republicans’ success — in communicating to average voters about the day-to-day matters that concern them most.”

Help for Beauprez

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has pumped $500,000 into Colorado’s gubernatorial race, considered by political analysts to be one of the most competitive in the country, the Denver Post reports.

The governors group donated the money to Trailhead Group LLC, an independent political committee that said it will use the money to help Republican candidate Rep. Bob Beauprez.

“We are going to be aggressive to support Bob Beauprez, and the RGA is part of our team and excited about investing,” said Alan Philp, executive director of Trailhead.

Mr. Beauprez faces Democrat Bill Ritter, a former Denver district attorney. Under campaign-finance laws, Trailhead cannot contribute any of the RGA money directly to Mr. Beauprez. It can, however, spend it on radio and TV ads, campaign mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts supporting him.

The group recently made hundreds of thousands of “robo-calls” to voters statewide criticizing Mr. Ritter’s position on immigration. And two weeks ago, the group put up a radio ad suggesting that as prosecutor, Mr. Ritter was soft on crime because he plea-bargained 97 percent of his cases.

The contribution was revealed Monday in Trailhead’s quarterly disclosure to the Internal Revenue Service. The group has raised a total of $1.6 million, according to the filing.

Moving on

The Homeland Security Department’s chief communications officer is headed over to the State Department, where he will serve as the deputy chief of staff for planning.

Brian Besanceney, the third assistant secretary for public affairs since the department was created three years ago, will step down July 28.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the transition yesterday and congratulated his trusted aide, who also served as deputy White House communications director for President Bush.

“I have relied heavily on Brian for his trusted counsel, steady leadership and communications expertise,” Mr. Chertoff said.

“He brought structure and focus to the department’s public-affairs operation and more effectively integrated public affairs into the planning and activities of our operating components,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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