- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

A workhorse

“We have proof that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card isn’t tired, despite what the critics say about his six years at the president’s side,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Turns out he wants to be at his desk so bad that he’ll play injured. Card often mountain bikes with President Bush. It normally goes well, but on March 11 he crashed. ‘I’m OK,’ he chirped, hopping right back on his ride. He even went biking the next day with the prez. But by Tuesday, March 14, he felt a little pain in his left arm; a visit to the doctor revealed a bruised left wrist and a fractured elbow. Of course, he went right back to work — but only after his left arm was put in a splint.”

Bravura performance

“For those of us who’ve complained for more than two years that this White House was ill-serving the troops in Iraq by not making the public case for Iraq, that changed this [past] week in Wheeling, W.Va,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Whatever George Bush had for breakfast Wednesday morning, Laura should see that the White House larder is packed with it. By noontime, Mr. Bush was in Wheeling delivering the third in a series of public speeches to defend the Iraq war. For a president whose public persona — West Texas accent, smirk, swagger and errant word choice — has become the biggest butt of presidential comedy since Richard Nixon, it was an astounding, bravura performance. In fact, I’ll pay him the highest possible compliment: It was Clintonesque,” Mr. Henninger said.

Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill reside in the Valhalla of great communicators, but Bill Clinton and Harry Truman thrived as mere mortals, not only connecting with the mythic ‘common man’ but somehow bonding to them. George Bush joined that class in Wheeling on Wednesday.

“It wasn’t the sort of set speech that presidents normally read, bobblehead bouncing between two [Tele-Prompters]. Holding a hand microphone, Mr. Bush walked around a stage before a few thousand people giving a largely extemporaneous talk on Iraq and his presidency. It was mesmerizing. One kept expecting Mr. Bush, whose deepest supporters despair at his inarticulateness, to stumble into the underbrush of confused facts or argument to nowhere. Never happened. Not once. For over an hour, it was nothing but net.

“OK, it wasn’t Demosthenes, but it was George W. Bush at his Everyman best. The same George Bush who, when televised in front of the White House news corps comes across as a smart aleck, poured off the cable-news screens from Wheeling as a relaxed, buoyant, passionate evangelist for his presidency’s most deeply held ideas — political freedom, military pre-emption and playing not to the polls, but for the verdict of history.”

St. Hillary

Republicans yesterday were dismissive of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claims that congressional efforts to prevent illegal immigration are un-Christian.

Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, said last week that proposed border-security legislation approved last year by the House would have punished the Good Samaritan and even Jesus for helping illegals.

“I’m not really surprised that Hillary Clinton doesn’t know the first thing about the Bible,” Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week”yesterday. “Her impression, her analysis, her interpretation of both the law and the Bible are certainly wrong, to say the least.”

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, told ABC: “I don’t really care what Senator Hillary Clinton has to say about the Bible. But when she says Congress is creating a situation which is harsh, bear in mind the House of Representatives has passed a bill, but the Senate is still part of the Congress.”

Going after Reed

A Georgia Republican accuses Ralph Reed — who is facing state Sen. Casey Cagle in a July Republican primary for lieutenant governor — of “stunning” hypocrisy on the property rights issue.

“When you were state party chairman I aggressively pushed you to promote private property rights as a key campaign issue. … But you rejected this, because, in your words, it wasn’t good politics in 2002,” state Sen. Chip Pearson, a Republican, wrote in a letter to Mr. Reed.

“Now I find you sending out all sorts of e-mails falsely attacking a proven defender of property rights — Casey Cagle — because the issue apparently polls well. The hypocrisy is stunning. But it gets worse.

“I just read an e-mail from you attacking Casey for accepting campaign contributions from those of us in the real estate industry. I am in the real estate industry, and you had no objections to taking money from me for your [state GOP] chairman’s campaign. And it made me wonder if you had received any campaign contributions for your Lt. Governor race from people in real estate. So I reviewed your campaign disclosures, and I found that you have received $408,131 in contributions from individuals and businesses in the real estate, construction, materials and related industries. …

“Apparently, you believe it is OK to accept campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff and $10,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians when you were party chairman, but not from honest, hardworking Georgia Republicans who work in the real estate business.”

Scalia’s comments

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the idea that detainees at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have constitutional rights and called European concerns over the issue hypocritical, Newsweek magazine reports.

The comments, which Newsweek said were recorded at a private appearance by Justice Scalia in Switzerland on March 8, emerge before a Supreme Court hearing this week on a legal challenge by a Guantanamo prisoner against U.S. military tribunals, Reuters news agency reports.

“War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts,” Justice Scalia said in the talk at the University of Freiburg. “Give me a break.”

Justice Scalia, when asked whether detainees at Guantanamo have protections under international conventions, said: “If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I’m not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean, it’s crazy.”

Justice Scalia’s son Matthew served with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

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

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