- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tony’s turn

The Palestinians have no better ally in the White House than Helen Thomas, the Hearst White House correspondent of Lebanese descent.

In a recent column, she opined that President Bush “loves to boast that his policies are bringing democracy to the region. True, certified elections have taken place … in occupied Palestine. But the U.S. has become a laughingstock because it rejects the results of the democratic election in Palestine, where Hamas won.”

This week, as Congress approved a near-total ban on U.S. aid to the Palestinians, Miss Thomas questioned White House spokesman Tony Snow about the U.S. role in resolving the decades-long Arab-Israeli clash.

“Well,” Mr. Snow replied, “the U.S. role is one of working with Israel and, when possible, with the Palestinians to try to generate a peace, the same it has always been, Helen — ”

“Then why is it bankrupting the Palestinians?” she interrupted.

“The Palestinians are not being bankrupted, Helen. What’s happening, as you know, is that there is — Hamas is a terrorist organization. We do not give money to terrorist organizations. What has happened is that this government has tried in a number of ways to make humanitarian aid available to the Palestinian people. We draw a distinction between Hamas, which is — ”

“And they were democratically elected,” she interjected.

“They were democratically elected, and they’re still a terrorist organization,” Mr. Snow persisted.

“By your designation,” she said.

“Yes. Thank you very much, Helen. They are, in fact, by the designation of this government, this administration and prior administrations. So let me continue my answer.”

Beats Workin’

Tony Snow is going to be jamming,” says our source, speaking of the new White House spokesman joining his rock band Beats Workin’ on June 3 at the Barking Dog tavern in Bethesda.

Not discriminating

Suffice it to say, in his bid to become Maryland’s next Republican senator, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is reaching out to every voter.

First thing yesterday morning, he was interviewed on Bill Bennett’s conservative “Morning in America” radio show. By afternoon, he was on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s liberal radio show.

“He has aggressively sought to have his message heard by as wide an audience as possible,” campaign spokesman Doug Heye says. “As the [Democratic Party’s] own poll has shown, that message is resonating with voters across community and party lines.”

Now rising

Campaigns & Elections magazine has just named its 2006 Rising Stars — two dozen Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan leaders younger than 35 who’ve begun making a mark in politics.

Among those joining past Rising Stars such as Paul Begala, Ed Gillespie, Karen Hughes, Laura Ingraham and George Stephanopolous — “in one of the largest and most competitive pools in recent years,” says Morgan E. Felchner, editor of Campaigns & Elections — are:

Zach Dietch, national field coordinator for the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Amanda Hydro, head of the College Republican National Committee; Julian Mulvey, of the Democratic consulting firm Julian Mulvey Group; Heather Smith, director of Young Voter Strategies at George Washington University; and Max Pulsinelli, founder of Maximum Impact Public Relations LLC, whose focus is on political books and authors.

Piece of cake

Usually, a visiting convention chairman has nothing but praise for the mayor of the host city. But not in Milwaukee, venue for the 2006 National Rifle Association annual meeting.

“I had not planned to mention this,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne R. LaPierre told the crowd, “but [Democratic] Mayor Tom Barrett’s behavior since we came to town makes me think he spent too much time hanging out with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg a couple of weeks ago.”

He was referring to Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral powwow on combating crime, which Mr. LaPierre labeled a pointless “photo-op.”

“Mayor Bloomberg, it’s not rocket science,” Mr. LaPierre said. “Here’s what you do. Walk down to town hall and tell your prosecuting attorneys that from now on, no plea bargains, no reduced charges, no dropped cases.

“A drug dealer caught with a gun goes to jail. A violent felon caught with a gun goes to jail. Discharge a gun in commission of a felony, go to jail. Smuggle a gun, go to jail. If you do that, if you stop talking and start acting, your violent-crime rate will drop 30, 40, 50 percent in one year.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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