- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

Short and unsweet

The Republican National Committee has just released everything it could dig up about the Democratic presidential candidates, and it isn’t a pretty sight. Here’s an abbreviated version of the committee’s key findings:

• Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois: “An inexperienced, insulated, arrogant, unabashed liberal.”

• New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: “A self-promoting, Washington insider with a controversial record.”

• Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut: “A New England liberal, past his prime, on an unrealistic vanity run for the White House.”

• Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York: “A calculating, divisive, lifelong liberal with political baggage.”

• Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware: “An undisciplined, self-described Northeast liberal, in love with the sound of his own voice.”

• Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina: “A hypocritical, inexperienced liberal with a new negative attitude.”

• Former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa: “A tax-hiking, mismanaging, ‘blip’ candidate with no foreign policy experience.”

Red Queen trial

“The trial of I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby is the closest version of a Red Queen trial this country has had in a long time. One says that knowing it might start a stampede from past defendants laying claim to the most upside-down prosecution,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

Lewis G. Carroll’s account of the Knave’s trial before the Red Queen and White Rabbit is famous for the Queen’s dictum, ‘Sentence first, verdict afterward.’ But read the full transcript of the mock trial and one will see that the real subject is not justice, but the humiliation of the defendant,” Mr. Henninger said.

“The trial of Scooter Libby in Washington, the national capital of illogic, has been exemplary. In December 2003, the prosecutor purports a crime has been committed by revealing a ‘covert’ CIA agent’s identity to the press — despite knowing then what the outside world learned nearly three years later — that the revealer of the agent was a State Department official, Richard Armitage. With the ‘whodunnit’ solved on day one, the prosecution follows the Red Queen’s script by taking the nation on a useless, joyless ride through the opaque looking-glass of Washington journalism.

“The testimony of three of the world’s most sophisticated journalists — Judith Miller, Matthew Cooper and Tim Russert — was the trial’s closest thing to the White Rabbit reading nonsense verse to the jury: ‘For this must ever be a secret, kept from all the rest, between yourself and me.’

“The Libby case went to the jury [Wednesday]. After the verdict, all the characters in this satire on Beltway mores will go back to doing what they did before, except for one — Scooter Libby.”

MoveOn vs. Fox

MoveOn.org began circulating a petition yesterday to try to block Fox News from hosting a Democratic presidential candidates debate.

The left-wing group’s civic action arm called Fox “a right-wing mouthpiece” that repeats “false Republican talking points to smear Democrats.”

“Fox is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel. The Democratic Party of Nevada should drop Fox as its partner for the presidential primary debate,” reads the petition, which is being circulated via e-mail and on Web sites.

“If ever there was a battle where we could beat Fox, this is it — since Democrats will make the ultimate decision, not Fox executives,” MoveOn says in the e-mail. “But to be convinced, Democratic leaders need to see a growing public backlash.”

Fox announced recently that it would host a meeting of the Democratic contenders in Reno, Nev., on Aug. 14. The move irritated dozens of liberal bloggers, who began their own campaign to try to get Nevada officials to reconsider.

CNN, which is doing its own Nevada debate in November, was rumored to have turned down an offer to host the August debate as well.

Uncomfortable Joe

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent but a member of the Democratic caucus, last month told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn’t feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Time magazine reports in its issue out today.

Mr. Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time, Time reporter Massimo Calabresi said, and “Lieberman has started attending again.”

Republicans, the magazine says, are “courting him” and Mr. Lieberman “has been indulging in some fairly immodest political footsie.” Mr. Lieberman said a party switch is “a remote possibility,” and that he keeps in touch with Bush aide Stephen J. Hadley “every week or two.”

The Time article was summarized yesterday at the Web site of Editor & Publisher magazine, www.editorandpublisher.com.

Pardon campaign

Grassfire.org has teamed with RapidResponse Media to flood the nation’s capital with television and radio spots calling on President Bush to pardon U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, now in prison for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks as he fled back into Mexico.

Grassfire has delivered to Congress petitions with more than 300,000 signatures calling for the president to pardon the two men, who were sentenced to 11- and 12-year terms, respectively, and hopes — through the radio and television spots — to garner additional signatures.

The ads, now airing on YouTube, feature on-the-street interviews with both men and women calling for the pardon and questioning why the agents were targeted for prosecution in the first place.

The suspect abandoned a van he was driving near the Texas-Mexico border when confronted by the agents, running back into Mexico, leaving behind 743 pounds of marijuana, worth about $1 million. He was given immunity to testify against the agents and has said he intends to sue the U.S. government for $5 million.

Carolina candidate

Republicans across the country don’t have much to celebrate these days, but in North Carolina they’ve begun rallying around a man named Bill Graham, a lawyer and a businessman who burst onto the political scene in 2005 with a crusade against the state’s rising gas tax.

He spent about $200,000 out of his own pocket to finance a three-week radio advertising campaign calling on state officials to roll back an increase in the state gas tax, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. He also submitted the names of 22,000 people, which he collected at his Web site, opposed to the gas-tax increase. State lawmakers buckled and Mr. Graham has been credited with saving Tarheel taxpayers $159 million in taxes this year.

Yesterday, Mr. Graham announced that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for governor. It’s considered one of the few opportunities for a Republican gubernatorial win, in part because it’s one of the few open seats in 2008.

Mr. Graham has been compared in looks to fellow North Carolinian and former Sen. John Edwards, the personal injury lawyer who ran as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004. Like Mr. Edwards, Mr. Graham is the son of a millworker.

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

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