- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

Class warfare

Ned Lamont talks like a liberal Democrat and invests his fortune like a Republican capitalist. No wonder Joe Lieberman is bewildered by his surging challenger,” Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie writes of the Democratic Senate battle in Connecticut.

“The Lieberman campaign has been trying to shine a light on Lamont’s investments, which were revealed to the U.S. Senate’s ethics office in a mandatory report earlier this year. Those investments, either directly or in funds, are the normal stuff of Democratic outrage. Wal-Mart, arms manufacturers, Satan’s own Halliburton, Starbucks with its unfair coffee purchases in Latin America — they all play some part in the enormous Lamont family exchequer. It is the stuff with which Democrats bludgeon Republicans,” Mr. Rennie said.

“Lieberman will veer into class warfare and the politics of resentment when it suits him, but he’s never done that against a fellow Democrat before. Now that he looks like he may take a dive in the Aug. 8 primary, he’s flailing. He probably never castigated Hillary Clinton for her membership on Wal-Mart’s board of directors in the Arkansas years.

“Lamont concedes in his vague filing only that he is worth between $90 million and $300 million. Those numbers would normally be enough to outrage left-wing activists. But this year is different. Because he’s against the war, it’s OK that his fortune is not invested in tofu and Ben & Jerry’s. Ideologues make allowances for their own if they take the right stands.”

Missile defense

“When President Bush announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty five years ago, Democrats howled,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Pulling out of the treaty to roll out missile defense would, they predicted, lead to a new arms race, undermine American security and in any case was unnecessary. ‘This premise, that one day Kim Jong Il or someone will wake up one morning and say “Aha, San Francisco!” is specious,’ Sen. Joe Biden told Associated Press in May 2001.

“Apparently no one bothered to translate ‘specious’ into Korean. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has now defied world opinion by test-firing a Taepodong-2 missile capable of hitting San Francisco. The fact that the missile failed is small consolation, since we are also now seeing in Lebanon a further proliferation of missiles from Syria and Iran that can reach deep into Israel. Does anyone doubt that Iran, or some other adversary, will build an [intercontinental ballistic missile] capable of hitting the U.S. as soon as it is able?” the newspaper asked.

“All of which makes the U.S. political debate over missile defenses worth revisiting, not least because some Democrats are still trying to strangle the program. In the House, John Tierney of Massachusetts this year proposed cutting the Pentagon’s missile-defense budget by more than half. His amendment was defeated on the House floor, but it won the support of more than half of his Democratic colleagues, including would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Meanwhile in the Senate, Carl Levin [Michigan Democrat] offered in June to cut off funds for the ground-based interceptor program that Mr. Bush recently activated in Alaska in anticipation of the North Korean launch. Mr. Levin wants to stop new interceptors from being built, but Senate Republicans wouldn’t bring his proposal up for a vote. Mr. Levin has been waging his own private war against missile defenses for a generation, to the point of outflanking Russian objections on the political left.”

The newspaper added: “With the expanding North Korean and Iran missile threats, it’d be nice to think Democrats would acknowledge their mistakes. But we’d gladly forgo any apologies if liberal Democrats would finally admit that missile defenses are a necessary part of America’s antiterror state arsenal.”

Dodd’s speech

Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd made a good impression on Florida Democratic Party activists Saturday in his first major appearance since announcing he’ll explore a 2008 White House run.

He warmed up a Fort Lauderdale crowd of about 175 by talking about his friendship with popular Florida Democrats such as former Sen. Bob Graham and the late Gov. Lawton Chiles and by mentioning the state’s 2000 presidential recount and his efforts to fix voting problems.

He went on to rouse the group with a speech in which he criticized the war in Iraq, called for a minimum wage increase, stressed the need for alternative fuels, declared education as the nation’s most important issue, promised to protect Social Security and pointed out problems in the health care system, the AP reports.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson spoke Saturday night, and retired Gen. Wesley Clark spoke yesterday morning. Both also are considering presidential runs.

Seeking energy

Now more than ever, the Democratic Party needs the energy of its younger members, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday during a speech to college-age Democrats.

In a speech to approximately 400 at the College Democrats of America National Convention at Saint Louis University, the California congresswoman noted that John F. Kennedy was just above the minimum age for office when he was elected to the Senate, and that Martin Luther King was in his 20s when he began delivering speeches that changed the world.

“I have an assignment for you,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Are you ready to go out there and fight to change the House of Representatives and elect the first woman speaker of the House? Now more than ever we need your energy.”

Mrs. Pelosi, who likely would be elected speaker if Democrats win control of the House in the November election, laid out a plan for the “first 100 hours” if voters return Democrats to power, the AP reports.

That agenda would include implementing the recommendations of the September 11 commission, increasing the minimum wage, making health care and prescription drugs more affordable, renewing efforts to protect Social Security, rolling back subsidies to major oil companies in favor of spending more on alternative energy sources, and improving college affordability.

Kerry’s solution

Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee who says he is thinking about running again, told a crowd at a labor union hall in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday that the nation’s health care system needs reform.

“The costs are too high, and the system is inefficient,” the Massachusetts senator said at a town hall-style meeting at the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1422. “It’s effective health care, but it’s not effective for everybody.”

He noted that he has introduced legislation to require the federal government to pay all Medicaid costs for people younger than 21 who live at or below the poverty level. In return, state governments would expand coverage for children typically considered middle-class.

To pay for the increased coverage, the bill would repeal a portion of tax breaks enacted in 2001 for people earning more than $300,000 a year, the AP reports.

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

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