- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thompson’s assets

“He lacks the compelling story of Rudy Giuliani during 9/11. He isn’t a war hero with a 24-year record in Congress like John McCain. He doesn’t have the M.B.A., smoothness and business success of Mitt Romney. But what Fred Thompson demonstrated to an enthusiastic Virginia Republican Party dinner Saturday is that he has gravitas, a presence and the ability to make people comfortable,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Most importantly, many at the dinner saw him as a conservative who doesn’t alienate or cause angst with any element of the GOP coalition,” Mr. Fund said.

“University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says the failure of any of the current candidates to excite chunks of the Republican base has given Mr. Thompson an opening. Conservatives ‘seem to look for reasons to like Thompson,’ Mr. Sabato told the Roanoke Times.

“They certainly got some from Mr. Thompson’s Saturday speech. After slightly ragged tryouts before audiences in California and Connecticut, he hit his stride with a speech that mixed warnings about the state of the country with optimism that the American people can overcome the challenges facing them.

“He called on Republicans to build ‘a new coalition’ in 2008 that avoids some of the mistakes that led to last November’s disaster. ‘Some of us came to drain the swamp [in Washington] and made partnership with the alligators,’ he said, explaining how the GOP Congress ended up tagged as soft on spending.

” ‘Folks, we’re a bit down politically right now, but I think we’re on the comeback trail, and it’s going to start right here,’ he assured his listeners. ‘It’s like the American people are waiting for us,’ he continued. ‘They’re waiting for us to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing, about the ideas that inspired us, to remember who the leaders were that inspired us.’ ”

Supreme shortlist

The White House is developing a shortlist of possible Supreme Court nominees so President Bush can move swiftly if a justice retires at the end of June, when the court breaks for its summer recess,” ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg reports, citing sources involved in the selection process.

Mr. Bush met with top advisers last month, and they discussed possible nominees, the reporter wrote at abcnews.go.com.

He told White House Counsel Fred Fielding and other administration lawyers that he wanted to nominate a woman or a minority to the court, and his legal team has narrowed its focus to a half-dozen contenders, sources said.

Most of the potential nominees have been well-vetted by the White House, which conducted interviews in 2005, when it was searching for replacements for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The White House is not expecting a retirement but wants to be ready in case, sources said.

Spin this

Columnist and author Eric Alterman was arrested Sunday night inside the Democratic debate spin room, CNN reports at www.cnn.com. He was charged with criminal trespass after police say he refused repeated orders to leave.

Goffstown, N.H., police said Mr. Alterman was in the spin room as a guest of the Creative Coalition and went to an area reserved for a private reception for WMUR-TV. Police said he was asked by an executive at the party if he was invited to the private area and was asked to leave. A police officer was called after an argument ensued. According to police, Mr. Alterman was asked seven times to leave and became increasingly loud as he refused. After ignoring a final request, police said he was handcuffed and taken from the building.

Mr. Alterman spoke with CNN after being released. He called the arrest a “misunderstanding” and claimed he did not refuse orders to leave.

He told CNN he was waiting in the spin room for the debate to end, but there was no place to sit. He claimed he saw an area upstairs and was not stopped when he walked up there. He said he saw a bar area and asked if it was an open bar. Told that it was, he ordered some wine and some water. He then said he was approached by a man and asked if he was invited to the party. Mr. Alterman said he asked for the man’s name because he had been treated “brusquely.” He said the man declined to give his name and called for an officer.

Mr. Alterman said he “never raised his voice once” and identified himself as a journalist. When he asked for the police officer’s name, the officer threatened to arrest him. Mr. Alterman said he asked for a supervising officer to come over and tried to explain the situation. He claims he was cut off and acknowledged he may have been argumentative when he said, “Could I please finish a sentence here?”

He was booked and released after paying $30. Mr. Alterman said he will fight to get the charges dropped.

Mr. Alterman writes a column for the left-wing Nation magazine and writes the Altercation blog for the liberal Media Matters Web site.

‘Desperate’ Bush

“If President Bush were as intent on cracking down on illegal immigration as he is on insulting conservatives, we’d have a secure border by now,” Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation writes at National Review.com.

“He attacked conservatives in a speech … in Glynco, Ga., for not rubber-stamping his secretly negotiated agreement on legislation that would make the most dramatic change to immigration law in the last 40 years. The president’s tone was aggressive, disrespectful and dismissive of conservative assertions that his deal amounts to amnesty for illegal aliens. …

“The administration’s high-volume rhetoric reveals a desperate attempt to build a presidential legacy. Why else would the administration participate in closed-door drafting sessions lead by liberal icon Sen. Ted Kennedy, then attempt to railroad the bill through the Senate in one week?

“Conservative senators balked at the prospect of passing a massive bill with no hearings, no expert testimony and no opportunity for citizens to read the bill. The Heritage Foundation posted a searchable copy of the bill on our Web site [www.heritage.org] so that conservatives could rebut the president’s absurd accusation that critics ‘haven’t read the bill.’

“We have, and it’s clear that the Kennedy-Bush partnership has yielded a markedly liberal approach to the immigration problem. … But why be surprised? The last two times that Kennedy and Bush collaborated, we wound up federalizing education under No Child Left Behind and creating a multibillion-dollar entitlement known as the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.”

Follow your hearts

President Bush’s criticism of those who oppose his immigration-reform plan has prompted a lot of anger from conservative bloggers, but few were more angry than Ace of Spades (ace.mu.nu), who last week summed up his feelings briefly, “Message To The Left: I’m not saying you should impeach him, I’m just sayin’, you know, go with your hearts.”

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

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