- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

A weary party

“The Democratic Party is that amazing thing, out of power for six years and yet exhausted. They’re pale, tired and unready. Too bad, since it’s their job to be an alternative, not an embarrassment,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“This week Democratic members of Congress and other elected officials unveil their ‘New Direction for America,’ the party’s declaration of its reason for being. It said it stands firmly and unequivocally, without fear or favor, unwaveringly and with grit for … reducing the cost of student loans. And making prescription drugs less expensive. And raising the minimum wage. Etc.

“This is not a philosophy but a way — an inadequate way, but a way — of hiding the fact that you don’t have a philosophy,” Mrs. Noonan said.

“One can argue about why the Democratic Party no longer seems to have a reason for being. I believe the reason is this: They have achieved what they set out to achieve in 1932, when the modern Democratic Party began. They got what they asked for, achieved what they fought for. They got a big government that offers a wide array of benefits and assistance; they got a powerful federal establishment that collects and dispenses treasure, that assumes societal guidance. They got Social Security and Medicare. They got civil rights (much murky history there, the Southern Democratic lions of the U.S. Senate having retarded the modern civil rights movement from 1940 through 1964; still, by the late ‘60s Democrats came to seem to own the issue, and that hasn’t changed).

“They got what they stood for. They went on, in the 1970s and ‘80s, to stand for things about which Americans showed they had doubts and ambivalence: abortion, the modernist social agenda. By the time the Democrats ran out that string, they got tagged for the cost of their dreams. Big government is expensive, and the American people didn’t enjoy being forced to pay, through high taxes, for the pleasure of being pushed around.”

Discredited claim

“Now that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, perhaps the American press can also lay to rest the biggest myth about the mass murderer: that he had nothing to do with Saddam’s regime prior to the war,” Thomas Joscelyn writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“It is not clear where this claim originated, but it is widely accepted. In the cover story for this month’s Atlantic Monthly, for example, Mary Anne Weaver writes, ‘In his address to the United Nations making the case for war in Iraq, [Secretary of State Colin L.] Powell identified al-Zarqawi — mistakenly, as it turned out — as the crucial link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime.’

“Similar statements can be found throughout the coverage of Zarqawi’s barbarous life. But this says more about the desire to keep Saddam’s reign separated from the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq’s terror network than it does about the actual facts,” Mr. Joscelyn said.

“There is abundant evidence that Saddam’s regime, at the very least, tolerated Zarqawi’s existence in regime-controlled areas of Iraq prior to the war. Moreover, at least three high-level al Qaeda associates have testified to Saddam’s warm welcome for Zarqawi and his associates.”

GOP vs. GOP

“There they go again,” Jeffrey Lord writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It’s bad enough that one political party in charge of the U.S. Senate plays games with the federal judiciary when the other party controls the White House. Now we have members of the same party playing games when their own party controls the White House. Either way, the result is bad for federal judges,” said Mr. Lord, author of “The Borking Rebellion.”

“The latest incident involves Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and a Bush nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The nominee, William ‘Jim’ Haynes, is currently the general counsel at the Pentagon. As such, he has played a role in the issue of the treatment of detainees captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Graham, a military lawyer himself, apparently objects to Haynes and is responding to critics in the military community that the policies on detainees Haynes helped to construct make him unfit for the appeals court.

“Fair enough. While I disagree with this assessment, this has been used as yet another excuse to abuse the Senate’s judicial confirmation process.

“Haynes’ nomination has been sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee for three years without a vote. Repeated news accounts finger Graham, a committee member, as the senator who is quietly keeping Haynes from getting that vote. Even more amazing, there are multiple media stories that Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a potential presidential candidate, is urging Graham on.”

Trouble in Iowa

“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s straddle-the-center strategy on Iraq is starting to backfire as the Democratic Party keeps tilting toward the anti-war left while it revs up for 2008,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“It showed when antiwar activists booed her the other day — and when a shock weekend poll in first presidential test Iowa found her trailing likely 2008 rival John Edwards by 30 to 26 percent,” Miss Orin said.

” ‘It’s the war, stupid,’ says a Dem strategist who’s an Iowa veteran. ‘The anti-war activists in Iowa are the most virulent in the country.’

“Clinton’s problem is that if she loses the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, and possibly even if she just scrapes out a narrow win, that would likely kill her White House dreams.

“Front-runners who lose Iowa rarely recover in the Democratic Party (just ask Howard Dean), and Clinton is a mega-front-runner whose image of inevitability would shatter with an early loss.”

Delaware candidate

Delaware Republican Jan Ting, a law professor and former immigration official who favors a crackdown on illegal aliens, formally started his campaign for U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

Mr. Ting, 57, eschewed the traditional three-county tour with which candidates in Delaware usually kick off their campaigns, electing instead for a Flag Day rally outside Legislative Hall in Dover, the Associated Press reports.

“We want to show that we’re not bound by tradition …,” Mr. Ting told reporters after speaking to about 50 supporters. “We think the symbolism of the three-county tour is misplaced. We’re going to replace that with substance.”

Mr. Ting, a Temple University professor and son of Chinese immigrants, hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Thomas R. Carper.

He told supporters that his primary reason for running is “our broken immigration system.”

Mr. Ting, who served three years as assistant commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service after being appointed by President Bush in 1990, has called for construction of a 2,000-mile-long wall along the southern U.S. border and opposes any amnesty for illegal aliens.

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

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