- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

Big and small

Political pundit Fred Barnes showed up at Grover Norquist’s Wednesday Group meeting this week and shocked some of the 100 or so conservative interest-group representatives in attendance by appearing to throw in the towel on limiting government, according to e-mails and phone calls from several persons who were present.

“President Bush thinks, and I agree, that we are not going to have smaller government,” Mr. Barnes said at the meeting. “Ronald Reagan tried to do it and gave up. Newt Gingrich did it and gave up. We are going to have a government of big size.”

In a separate discussion with Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times, Mr. Barnes said he made those remarks at the meeting as part of his discussion of his latest book, “Rebel-in-Chief: How George W. Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America.”

“I am a small-government conservative myself,” Mr. Barnes told Mr. Hallow yesterday. “But,” Mr. Barnes added, “it’s unrealistic to think it is ever going to happen in our country. Bush recognizes it. He’s going to use big government for conservative ends.”

Mr. Barnes also said that pressure is mounting on Mr. Bush to bring on fresh staff, but “if he shakes up staff and brings Dave Gergen and Ken Duberstein in, we’ll know he is no longer an insurgent and rebel. We’ll know he has been ‘Washingtonized.’ ”

Bush and spending

“I believe it is fair to say most Republicans did not think George W. Bush was motivated to run for the presidency for the primary reason of cutting or controlling spending. But it is also fair to say that they did not think he was Lyndon B. Johnson. And that’s what he’s turned into,” Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“How did this happen? In the years after 9/11, I looked at Mr. Bush’s big budgets, and his expansion of entitlements, and assumed he was sacrificing fiscal prudence — interesting that that’s the word people used to spoof his father — in order to build and maintain, however tenuously, a feeling of national unity,” Miss Noonan said.

“I assumed he wanted to lessen bipartisan tensions when America was wading into the new world of modern terrorism. I thought: This may be right and it may be wrong, but I understand it. And certainly I thought Bush was better on spending than a Democrat, with all the pressures on him to spend, would be.

“A John Kerry would spend as much and raise taxes too. But could a President Kerry spend more than President Bush? How?

“In any case, what bipartisan spirit there was post-9/11 has broken down, Mr. Bush will never have to run again, and he is in a position to come forward and make the case, even if only rhetorically, to slow and cut spending. He has not. And there’s no sign he will.”

Unhappy Hispanics

Six members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have cut ties to the group’s fundraising committee after it gave campaign cash to nonfederal candidates — including the committee chairman’s sons.

Rep. Joe Baca, California Democrat and chairman of the Building Our Leadership Diversity Political Action Committee, or BOLDPAC, defended the decision to give $3,300 each to Joe Baca Jr., a member of the California Assembly who’s running for state Senate, and to Jeremy Baca, who is running for California Assembly.

“We should not discriminate against any member who has a family member who wants to serve in public office, whether it’s mine or anyone else’s,” the elder Mr. Baca said.

He said the decision to give to his sons was made by a seven-member board of lawmakers that oversees the political action committee’s expenditures. Mr. Baca said he did not vote.

In a letter to the U.S. representative, the six lawmakers said BOLDPAC needed to focus on federal candidates and boost Democratic efforts to retake control of the House. In interviews, several also noted that Joe Baca Jr. is running against another Hispanic, Assembly member Gloria Negrete-McLeod, in the Democratic primary.

The six lawmakers asked that their names no longer be used on BOLDPAC fundraising appeals. The letter was signed by California Democrats Dennis Cardoza, Loretta Sanchez, Jim Costa, Linda T. Sanchez and Hilda L. Solis as well as Arizona Democrat Raul M. Grijalva.

BOLDPAC raised slightly more than $100,000 last year, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Scolding Reed

Conservative Christian author Marvin Olasky lambastes Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia, for misleading evangelicals.

Mr. Reed passed along money to them in a campaign to stop the establishment of new casinos. What he didn’t tell them was that the money came from lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s casino clients, who were trying to prevent competition.

Mr. Reed “has shamed the evangelical community by providing evidence for the generally untrue stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated and that evangelical leaders are using moral issues to line their own pockets,” Mr. Olasky said in a posting at www.worldmagblog.com.

Starlet skips dinner

Jessica Simpson loves President Bush. She’s just not a big fan of Republican fundraisers.

The Hollywood starlet and tabloid cover girl was on Capitol Hill yesterday to lobby Congress for Operation Smile, an organization that provides reconstructive surgery to children with facial deformities, the Associated Press reports.

But all anyone wanted to know was why she turned down an invitation to attend a Republican fundraiser with Washington’s top star — Mr. Bush.

“We went back and forth, and we could never get the details worked out,” said her father and manager Joe Simpson. “When it became obvious that it was not just a state dinner, it was more of a fundraising event, that is the wrong purpose of why we are here.”

Still, he said of the president, “We are huge fans of him and of his family, his girls. Jessica loves the heck out of him.”

He said they were still trying to squeeze in a meeting with the chief executive. “We are trying to get in and out,” he said.

Star power

Political superstars were overshadowed yesterday by an actual star. Tony Shalhoub, of the popular USA Network television show “Monk,” was seen in the halls of the Capitol.

Mr. Shalhoub, also known for his appearance as an alien in the “Men in Black” films, greeted reporters in the House press gallery during a tour led by Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.

Mr. Issa made national headlines for his involvement in the gubernatorial recall election that made Arnold Schwarzenegger California’s governor. Both Mr. Issa and Mr. Shalhoub are of Lebanese ethnicity.

Mr. Shalhoub was in town for the American Task Force for Lebanon gala, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award.

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

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