- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed today’s questioning of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on the firings of eight federal prosecutors, saying the proceedings would be inappropriate in light of the Virginia Tech shootings, the Associated Press reports.

Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy decided to postpone the long-awaited hearing, said Tracy Schmaler, spokeswoman for the Vermont Democrat.

Mr. Leahy said the hearing had been rescheduled for Thursday. He said he made the decision after conferring with Mr. Gonzales and the committee’s senior Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

“All three of us agree,” he said.

Edwards’ boast

Presidential candidate John Edwards says he is the strongest general election candidate in the Democratic field because he has won in the South and his chief rivals have not been tested there.

Mr. Edwards said that’s true of Democratic primary opponents Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, but it also applies to the leading Republican candidates — former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I think I have the strongest chance of changing the electoral map,” Mr. Edwards said yesterday in an interview with the Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. “If Senator McCain or Mayor Giuliani or Governor Romney, if one of them is the nominee, I think we have a great chance to win, not just Ohio, but to win some Southern states.

“I think in the case of most of the other [Democratic] candidates, they’re just not tested in that regard,” the former North Carolina senator said.

McCain’s move

Sen. John McCain’s speech last week on winning in Iraq earned high marks, at least from conservatives,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“One result was an immediate fourfold increase in McCain’s online fundraising, though he’d made no special appeal. Another was that his once close ties to the mainstream media continued to fray, which may improve his standing among conservatives. And at the same time his chief opponents for the Republican presidential nomination hit bumps in the road: Rudy Giuliani over his support for taxpayer-funded abortions, Mitt Romney because of his seemingly innocent but exaggerated claim to have been a lifelong hunter,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Even taken together, these haven’t created a McCain moment in the Republican campaign. But they do mark the end of the downward drift of his candidacy and improve his prospects of gaining the support of conservatives — the two things McCain needed most.

“We know what a full-blown McCain moment looks like. We saw it in New Hampshire in 2000 when he drew large and adoring crowds, gained more than 20 percentage points in a matter of days, and roared past George W. Bush to win the New Hampshire primary. Nothing like that is happening now. But McCain has steadied his campaign at a time when his foes are stumbling. And his future in the Republican race looks brighter than it has in months.”

One hundred days

“Back in January, ABC anchor Charles Gibson was the most triumphant over supposed Democratic achievements after taking control of Congress,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“But on Friday night, only Gibson’s ‘World News,’ of the three broadcast network evening newscasts, reported on the failure of Democrats to pass the bills they promised in their first one-hundred days. (Brian Williams’ lead on NBC: ‘A new and growing political problem for the White House: Missing e-mails.’)

“Gibson had trumpeted on January 4 how video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor holding a baby while she talked to colleagues demonstrated ‘the ultimate in multitasking: Taking care of the children and the country’ and two weeks later he celebrated how House Democrats ‘completed their scheduled hundred hours of work in just about 42 hours, so they can put the other 58 in the bank.’

“On Friday night’s ‘World News,’ Gibson explained: ‘When Democrats took control of the Congress in January, they promised it would be a new day. They’d get things done. They even had a checklist. Well, a hundred days after taking control, we’ve checked the checklist.’

Jake Tapper made clear how they’ve come up very short, pointing out how the Democrats ‘have no major legislative accomplishments to mark this anniversary. None of their “Six for ‘06” campaign promises last year have made it to the president’s desk.’ ”

Brownback’s plan

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, looking ahead to today’s tax-return deadline, yesterday suggested a flat tax as an option for taxpayers.

“I’m not taking on the current tax code from the standpoint of removing it,” he said. “I’m saying create an alternative and let people pick.”

Mr. Brownback, who spoke with reporters after meeting with customers at a bookstore in Des Moines, Iowa, said his flat-tax plan would not, at least initially, reduce federal revenue, the Associated Press reports.

“Not as part of a system’s change I am proposing,” he said. “We would design a system that would yield comparable revenues.”

Mr. Brownback said several details of his plan haven’t been set, but would be in the coming months. One possibility is to require taxpayers to pick an option and stick with it for some time, likely five years, he said.

At least $5 billion

“Forget every story you’ve read that the 2008 elections will cost a historic $1 billion. We’ve done the math, and if the spending by all the presidential candidates, House and Senate contenders, political parties, and 527 issue groups is included, the total is at least five times that,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

” ‘I feel very confident we’ll exceed $5 billion,’ says former Federal Election Commission boss Michael Toner. Most people, he says, add up only what the presidential nominees will spend, and that’s where the $1 billion figure comes from. But total it up, and Toner says ‘whether $5 billion to $6 billion or $5 billion to $7 billion, I don’t know.’

“The real shocker: Despite campaign-finance reform, there is more money than ever flooding into politics.”

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

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