- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Richardson’s ads

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson uses humor in two new video ads that emphasize the New Mexico governor’s long and diverse resume.

“We’re trying something new with these ads,” says the Richardson Web site (www.richardsonforpresident.com).

In one ad, called “Job Interview,” which is airing in Iowa, Mr. Richardson sits across from a sandwich-munching interviewer, explaining that he served 14 years in Congress; was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, secretary of energy and governor of New Mexico; was involved in a number of international negotiations; and was nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The interviewer leans back and says, “So, what makes you think you can be president?”

The other ad, called “Tell me,” again shows Mr. Richardson sitting on the other side of the desk from the interviewer. Mr. Richardson says that his tax cuts in New Mexico spurred the creation of 80,000 jobs and that he increased school funding, raised teacher salaries and cut bureaucracy.

The interviewer pauses, then says, “For what we’re looking for, you might be a little overqualified.”

Giuliani’s response

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani declined to comment yesterday on Pope Benedict XVI’s suggestion that Catholic politicians in Mexico City had excommunicated themselves by legalizing abortion, the Associated Press reports.

“I do not get into debates with the pope. That is not a good idea,” said Mr. Giuliani, a Catholic who is pro-choice on abortion. Issues involving his standing with the Roman Catholic Church “are between me and my confessor,” he said.

What jihad?

Greg Pollowitz of National Review’s media blog (https://media.nationalreview.com) reproduced a statement yesterday by the Council on American Islamic Relations about the arrest of six men on charges of plotting an attack on the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey.

He highlighted the following sentence: “CAIR also requested that media outlets and public officials refrain from linking this case to the faith of Islam.”

All six suspects are foreign-born Muslims. According to the criminal complaint, one suspect said he wanted to kill Americans “in the name of Allah,” and another was recorded as saying, “At the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad.”

Mr. Pollowitz dryly noted, “Except, of course, if media outlets and public officials did refrain from linking this case to the faith of Islam then that would be a lie.”

He then reproduced the New York Post’s front page, and the tabloid’s lead front-page “screamer” headline: “Jersey Jihad.”

“Looks like the New York Post isn’t on CAIR’s mailing list,” he said.

Obama vs. Grassley

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, says Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was not acting like a proper senator — let alone a president — when he called on Iowans to lobby Mr. Grassley to change his position on the Iraq war.

The Iowa senator, speaking to reporters during a conference call yesterday, bristled at Mr. Obama’s decision to call him out on his home turf.

“Let’s say — pretty much — that it’s not senatorial, and if you can’t be senatorial, how can you be presidential?” Mr. Grassley said.

At a campaign event in Waterloo on Sunday, Mr. Obama told the crowd, “We intend to force our colleagues in the Senate and House to take vote after vote until we overcome [the president’s] veto. I’m not going to name names, but there’s at least one senator in Iowa who could be helpful.”

That was a thinly veiled reference to Mr. Grassley, who has stood by President Bush’s Iraq policy. Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, is a vocal critic of the war.

“When you’re from another state, you don’t take pokes at another senator,” Mr. Grassley told reporters. “I would find that very difficult to do … tell his constituents to get on him about something.”

In response, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor repeated Mr. Obama’s call to action, the Associated Press reports.

Behind the times

Tourists visiting the U.S. Senate get a glossy 16-page booklet explaining the procedures of the chamber and outlining its history. Problem is, the chart is drastically outdated.

It includes a seating chart that still shows the desks belonging to Sens. George Allen, Conrad Burns, Rick Santorum and others who lost their 2006 re-election campaigns, along with retired Sens. Mark Dayton and James M. Jeffords.

The book is titled “The United States Senate 109th Congress 2005-2006,” and its welcome page features a letter penned by Majority Leader Bill Frist — who led the chamber before retiring last fall and who would get the title of “minority leader” if he were still serving, since Democrats took over control of Congress in January.

The secretary of the Senate is tasked with printing the document, hundreds of which are passed out every year. A spokeswoman told The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap that the 2007-08 books are still in draft form and won’t be ready until the middle of June — five months after the new members were sworn in.

Gallery staffers do not inform tourists that the books are out-of-date.

Space solution

Fishwrap also reported yesterday on an out-of-this-world exchange between Rep. Jay Inslee and a C-SPAN caller.

The Washington Democrat was a guest on the network’s “Washington Journal” interview program yesterday morning, and a caller told the congressman that he thinks the solution to global warming was colonizing another planet.

Keeping a straight face, Mr. Inslee said humans should take care of the planet they have before expanding to the solar system.

Dropout woes

At a national summit on the high school dropout problem, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said America is headed down a path to becoming “a poorer, more divided nation of haves and have nots” if the situation is not addressed.

“In 1963, President John F. Kennedy decried the fact that four out of 10 fifth-graders did not finish high school. He called it ‘a waste we cannot afford.’ Forty-four years later, the dropout rate for blacks, Hispanics and American Indians approaches 50 percent. We are wasting not just lives, but time,” Mrs. Spellings told education activists and others at the Washington conference, “National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic.”

Mrs. Spellings called for increasing funds for low-income high schools by more than $1 billion, strengthening reading intervention, improving math and science classes, bringing scientists and other experts into the classroom to teach and increasing the number of advanced-placement classes.

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

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