- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pining for a vote

It’s been one year to the day since the House passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which expands federal embryonic stem-cell research. Some lawmakers, however, have grown impatient with the Senate, which has yet to vote on the bill.

Reps. Michael N. Castle, Delaware Republican, and Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat; and Sens. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican; Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat; Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican; Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; Gordon H. Smith, Oregon Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, will gather at Russell Park on Capitol Hill this morning hoping to jump-start a Senate decision.

“To some, this debate may seem like a struggle between faith and science. While I have the utmost respect for those who oppose this bill on moral grounds, I believe that faith and science have at least one thing in common. Both are searches for truth. America has room for both faith and science,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California told fellow lawmakers on May 24 last year.

Yesterday, she simply urged the Senate to pass the bill.

A Senate Republican leadership aide said yesterday that the stem-cell issue is still on the Senate agenda for this year.

Media malaise

“With the formation of Iraq’s new government, it’s a good time to take stock of where we stand in our confrontation with Islamist terror. You wouldn’t know it from the outrageously dishonest headlines, but we’re winning,” observed Ralph Peters of the New York Post yesterday.

“Headlines from Afghanistan always read ‘Five Soldiers Killed and Wounded,’ not ‘150 Taliban Killed.’ If today’s journalists reported the Battle of Midway, we’d read ‘U.S. Aircraft Shot From Skies,’ with a brief mention of the destruction of the Japanese carrier fleet buried at the bottom.”

He later observed, “If journalists really cared about our right to privacy, they’d be tackling online auction houses, corporate information-sharing and Internet spyware — not wartime efforts to prevent another 9/11.”

Mr. Peters concludes: “Any fair-minded review of the last several years of American engagement abroad would conclude that, despite painful mistakes, we’ve changed the world for the better. The results have been imperfect, as such results always will be. But the bewildering sense of gloom and doom fostered by many in the media is as unjustified as it is corrosive.”

Presidential karaoke

Some think politicians can learn how to engage voters from “American Idol,” the overblown amateur hour from Fox that typically draws 30 million viewers. The District-based research group Pursuant conducted a political-style focus group around the “Idol” finale last night — but for ABC, not Fox. The results are shared on this morning’s “Good Morning America.”

The focus? The group will compare the voracious voting habits of viewers who vote for their favorite “Idol” stars by phone to the more tepid variety of presidential elections. The group’s founder Melissa Marcello reasons that “Idol” voters are enthusiastic about the talent poll because it is interactive and seems therefore “authentic.”

Does it mean White House aspirants should serenade undecided swing voters? Should we phone in our votes for presidents? Maybe. A Pursuant poll of 1,045 adults in mid-April found that 35 percent think votes on “American Idol” count as much — or more — than those cast in a U.S. presidential election.

After all, the show “is being treated almost like a presidential race,” Ms. Marcello told the Washington Business Journal yesterday.

John, Hillary, et al.

Sen. John McCain would beat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a hypothetical presidential race, according to a Fox News poll released yesterday. Forty-nine percent of the respondents opted for the Arizona Republican, 42 percent for the New York Democrat. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani would also trump Mrs. Clinton, 49 percent to 40 percent.

But Mrs. Clinton would best Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 51 percent to 35 percent. And what of a matchup between Republicans and the king of global warming? Mr. Giuliani topped former Vice President Al Gore 50 percent to 37 percent; Mr. McCain triumphed 48 percent to 36 percent. The poll of 900 registered voters was conducted May 16-18 with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Liberal lexicon

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid described the Senate bill making English the national language of the American people as ‘racist.’ And the New York Times editorial page labeled the bill ‘xenophobic.’”

It’s all the new liberal language, according to Dennis Prager in his syndicated column yesterday.

“Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality,” he wrote. “One-word put-downs of opponents’ ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal.”

Their all-purpose list? “Racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, imperialist, bigoted, intolerant,” Mr. Prager writes, adding, “One-word descriptions of what liberals are for: Peace, fairness, tolerance, the poor, the disenfranchised, the environment.”

The terms are easy to remember, make liberals feel good about themselves and allow them to “attack the motives of non-liberals and thereby morally dismiss the non-liberal person.”

ABC starts again

It has not been an easy six months for ABC News. The network announced yesterday that Charles Gibson had been appointed the new anchorman of “World News Tonight,” replacing Elizabeth Vargas, who is expecting a baby and goes on leave this summer.

ABC did not specify a role for Bob Woodruff, Miss Vargas’ co-anchor until he was wounded in a roadside bombing while on assignment in Iraq on Jan. 29. Mr. Woodruff is still recovering from serious head injuries and broken bones. The Vargas/Woodruff team — meant to replace veteran newsman Peter Jennings who died in August — was only on the air a month before Mr. Woodruff was injured.

The network is persevering, though. The evening news broadcast averaged 7.7 million viewers, outperforming “The CBS Evening News” by 510,000 total viewers.

Mr. Gibson, 63, starts Monday, though he’ll continue in his current capacity as a host on “Good Morning America” through June. The network has no word on a replacement for him on the morning show, currently presided over by news diva Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts.

“I am humbled to accept this new assignment,” Mr. Gibson said.

Contact Jennifer Harper at 202/636-3085 or jharper@washingtontimes.com

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