- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

Better late

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama got more than an education when he attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. He also got a healthy stack of parking tickets, most of which he never paid.

The senator from Illinois shelled out $375 in January — two weeks before he officially started his presidential campaign — to finally pay for 15 outstanding parking tickets and their associated late fees.

The story was first reported Wednesday by the Somerville News.

Mr. Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, mostly for parking in a bus stop, parking without a resident permit and failing to pay the meter, records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show.

He incurred $140 in fines and $260 in late fees in Cambridge in all, but he paid $25 for two of the tickets in February 1990.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, dismissed the tickets as not relevant, the Associated Press reports.

“He didn’t owe that much and what he did owe, he paid,” she said on Wednesday. “Many people have parking tickets and late fees. All the parking tickets and late fees were paid in full.”

Edwards vs. Fox

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina won’t participate in a debate hosted by Fox News and the Nevada Democratic Party, his campaign said, as party officials tried to settle a dust-up over their partnership with the cable network.

Mr. Edwards’ campaign said the involvement of Fox News, which liberals often accuse of having a conservative bias, was part of the decision to pass on the Aug. 14 debate in Reno, Nev.

“There were a number of factors and Fox was one of those. We’re already planning to participate in a jampacked schedule of debates across this country. … We can’t attend every single debate and forum,” the campaign said.

The two Democratic presidential front-runners, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, have not indicated whether they will attend the debate, the Associated Press reports. Fox boss Rupert Murdoch threw a Senate fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton, and is said to have a good relationship with the former first lady.

Online activists and bloggers quickly hailed Mr. Edwards’ decision as a victory in their campaign to urge Nevada Democrats to drop Fox News as a partner.

MoveOn.org Civic Action says it has collected more than 260,000 signatures on a petition that calls the cable network a “mouthpiece for the Republican Party, not a legitimate news channel.”

Fox News Channel Vice President of News David Rhodes said it was “unfortunate that Senator Edwards has decided to abandon an opportunity to reach the largest mainstream cable news audience in America.”

Another first

Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America’s ‘first black president.’ With that barrier broken, the comments of a prominent feminist are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America’s first woman president,” Josh Gerstein writes in the New York Sun.

“The candidate being touted as a torchbearer for women is not Senator Clinton, but one of her former colleagues, John Edwards. At a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus this week, a veteran of the abortion-rights movement, Kate Michelman, asked and answered the question she gets most frequently about her decision to back the male former senator from North Carolina,” Mr. Gerstein said.

“ ’Why John Edwards, given the historic nature of our extraordinary campaign for the presidency this year with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and all the others?’ Ms. Michelman asked as she warmed up the crowd for Mr. Edwards. ‘I’ve gotten to know a lot of political leaders over the years that I’ve been an advocate for women’s rights. I know the difference between those who advocate as a political position and those who understand the reality of women’s lives.’

“Compared to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards is short an ‘X’ chromosome, but listening to Ms. Michelman, that is easy to forget. ‘As a lawyer, as a senator, as a husband, as a father of two daughters, he understands the reality of women’s lives. He understands the centrality of women’s lives and experience to the health and well-being of society as a whole. … He understands that on an extremely personal level,’ she said.

“Her comments drew some quizzical looks, though if she had extended her argument to suggest that Mr. Edwards understood the plight of African Americans as well or better than Mr. Obama, some audible dissension would surely have arisen.”

Carter’s defense

Former President Jimmy Carter said yesterday that his decades-long quest to foster Middle East peace had been furthered by his controversial book, in which he likens Israeli treatment of Palestinians to apartheid, Cox News Service reports.

The book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” has ignited a firestorm, opposed by Jewish groups and others that have assailed Mr. Carter for comparing Israeli relations with Palestinians to the racist South African policy Israelis deplored.

During a speech before students and faculty at George Washington University, Mr. Carter defended both the term and the book’s central contention that Israel is oppressing Palestinians in a way that undermines Israeli security.

Asked at one point whether he thinks the use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israeli treatment of Palestinians had advanced the cause of peace, Mr. Carter replied, “Yes, I do,” saying the book has sparked badly needed debate on the subject. “I hope that it will lead to peace for Israel and justice for the Palestinians.”

A small group of protesters milled around outside the campus auditorium where Mr. Carter spoke, just several blocks from the White House he inhabited when he brokered the historic Egyptian-Israeli peace accords at Camp David a generation ago.

“Carter is a liar,” read a sign carried by one protester.

“I believe Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite and his intention is to hurt Jewish people,” Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld told the Associated Press. “We were trying to tell Carter his lies are not helpful.”

New date

Nevada Republicans have approved a plan to move their 2008 presidential caucus to Feb. 7, six weeks earlier than previously scheduled.

“We’re committed now,” Paul Willis, acting state Republican chairman, said yesterday. “It’s going to coincide with our precinct meetings throughout the state.”

The state executive committee approved the move late Wednesday, amid concern that Nevada Democrats had been reaping a windfall of press and candidate attention since moving their party caucus to Jan. 19 — second in the nation behind Iowa.

Nevada Republicans’ new spot on the calendar places them two days after “Super Tuesday,” when more than a dozen states, including California, are considering holding their primaries.

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

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