- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pelosi booed

Members of the leading pro-Israel lobbying group offered scattered boos to a statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the Iraq war has been a failure on several scores, the Hill newspaper reports.

The boos, mixed with some polite applause, stood in stark contrast to the reception House Minority Leader John A. Boehner received minutes earlier. Most of the crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 stood and loudly applauded Mr. Boehner when he said the United States had no choice but to win in Iraq, reporter Ian Swanson wrote.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner were speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual meeting. AIPAC has not taken a position on the war in Iraq or the supplemental-spending bill to be considered this week by the House Appropriations Committee, but much of Mr. Boehner’s speech was about the future of the Iraq conflict.

Mr. Boehner sought to link the fight in Iraq to the future of Israel, as he said a failure in Iraq would pose a direct threat to Israel.

Mrs. Pelosi said the U.S. military campaign in Iraq had to be judged on three accounts: whether it makes the United States safer, the U.S. military stronger and the region more stable. “The war in Iraq fails on all three counts,” Mrs. Pelosi said. Some of the crowd applauded before catcalls and boos could be heard. A spokesman for AIPAC argued the boos were in response to those clapping for Mrs. Pelosi.

AIPAC leaders have said about 6,000 of the committee’s members were in town for this week’s annual meeting, which ended yesterday.

‘No’ to McCain

The Club for Growth, the national tax-cut advocacy group, yesterday released an evaluation of Arizona Sen. John McCain‘s chances of getting its endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination, and the answer was “no.”

In the third in a series of reports on the Republican contenders, the organization, which raises money for candidates who favor lower taxes, said the senator has staked out a number of pro-growth positions during a 24-year career, including support for school choice, free trade and fighting wasteful spending.

But it said “his overall record is tainted by a marked antipathy towards the free market and individual freedom,” especially his votes against President Bush‘s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. “Four years later, American taxpayers still have not heard the senator disavow his misguided statements and votes,” Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said.

Mr. Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, said “the question facing American taxpayers is whether they can sufficiently trust a McCain administration to produce consistently strong economic policies. Unfortunately, both his rhetoric and record suggest that the answer is no.”

Still, the group invited Mr. McCain to join his rivals for the nomination at a candidates forum in Palm Beach, Fla., March 29-April 1. Mr. McCain declined, the group said.

Leaving Congress

Rep. Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, will be leaving Congress in light of his nomination to be the next chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, his alma mater.

“The decision to leave the House has been the most difficult professional decision of my life,” the eight-term congressman said yesterday. “It has been a true honor to represent the people of my district and of our state in the House of Representatives.”

Mr. Meehan said if his nomination is approved, he will leave the House in July.

Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, will decide whether to call a special election within 160 days of the vacancy, and the potential race to fill Mr. Meehan’s spot is already heating up. Democrats Niki Tsongas, widow of the late Sen. Paul Tsongas, and former Lowell Mayor Eileen Donoghue are already saying they’ll run if Mr. Meehan leaves Congress, according to the Associated Press. A number of Democratic state representatives also have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Republican possibilities include former state Rep. Donna Cuomo of North Andover and Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan, the AP reported.

Vast conspiracy

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday described past Republican political malfeasance in New Hampshire as evidence of a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.”

The New York Democrat’s barbed comments revived a term she coined in 1998 as part of a denial that her husband had an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

Mrs. Clinton asserted yesterday that the conspiracy is alive and well, the Associated Press reports, and cited as proof the Election Day 2002 case of phone jamming in New Hampshire, a case in which two Republican operatives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and a third was convicted.

“To the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s credit, they sued and the trail led all the way to the Republican National Committee,” Mrs. Clinton said.

“So if anybody tells you there is no vast, right-wing conspiracy, tell them that New Hampshire has proven it in court,” she said.

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt responded that Democrats “might be disappointed to learn that almost a decade later, the senator’s playbook consists of little more than a resurrection of Clinton-era talking points.”

Johnson photos

The first public photos of Sen. Tim Johnson since his December brain hemorrhage show him looking pounds lighter and sitting in a wheelchair. According to a spokeswoman, he now has limited use of his right arm and leg.

The South Dakota Democrat is not yet able to walk. In the photos, released by his office yesterday, his right arm is propped up on a pillow. Mr. Johnson, who is right-handed, is learning to write with his left hand, spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said.

The senator is working on standing and balance training.

“It’s just a matter of time until he gains use of his right side again,” the spokeswoman said.

The photos were taken Sunday and posted yesterday on Mr. Johnson’s Web site (https://johnson.senate.gov), the Associated Press reports.

Award winner

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation announced yesterday that one of the four 2007 Bradley Prizes to honor outstanding achievement will be awarded to John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Bolton will be presented the award during a ceremony to be held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on May 3. Three other recipients also will be honored. Each award carries a stipend of $250,000.

“The Bradley Foundation is honoring John Bolton for his strong voice and defense of American ideals,” said Michael W. Grebe, president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation.

The selection was based on nominations solicited from more than 100 prominent individuals and chosen by a selection committee that included Thomas L. “Dusty” Rhodes, president of National Review magazine; Mr. Grebe; former federal Judge Robert H. Bork; Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute; syndicated columnists Charles Krauthammer and George Will; Brother Bob Smith, president of Messmer Catholic Schools; and Dianne J. Sehler of the Bradley Foundation.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/536-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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