- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Harmful rhetoric

“Important as was [Monday’s] appearance before Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the events leading up to his testimony may have been more significant,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Members of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying. If other members of the Democratic Party don’t move quickly to repudiate this turn, the ability of the U.S. political system to function will be impaired in a way no one would wish for,” the newspaper said.

“Well, with one exception. MoveOn.org, the Democratic activist group, bought space in the New York Times [on Monday] to accuse Gen. Petraeus of ‘cooking the books for the White House.’ The ad transmutes the general’s name into ‘General Betray Us.’ …

“MoveOn.org calls itself a ‘progressive’ political group, but it is in fact drawn from the hard left of American politics and a pedigree that sees politics as not so much an ongoing struggle but a final competition. Their Web-based group is new to the political scene, but its politics are not so new. More surprising and troubling are the formerly liberal institutions and politicians who now share this political ethos.

“In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times, after saying that President Bush ‘isn’t looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public,’ asserted that ‘Gen. Petraeus has his own credibility problems.’ We read this as an elision from George Bush, the oft-accused liar on [weapons of mass destruction] and all the rest, to David Petraeus, also a liar merely for serving in the chain of command. With this editorial, the Times establishes that the party line is no longer just ‘Bush lied,’ but anyone who says anything good about Iraq or our effort there is also lying. As such, the Times enables and ratifies MoveOn.org’s rhetoric as common usage for Democrats.”

Kucinich’s pal

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich went on Syrian television late last week to lambaste the United States for what he called its “illegal occupation” of Iraq.

The Ohio congressman, in his address to the Syrian people, praised Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom U.S. officials have accused of allowing Islamists to cross his border into Iraq for the purpose of killing U.S. troops.

“I feel the United States is engaging in an illegal occupation,” Mr. Kucinich said.

Later, in Lebanon, Mr. Kucinich said he didn’t plan to visit Iraq on his trip to the region because he considers the U.S. military deployment there illegal, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Mr. Kucinich told reporters that Syria deserves credit for taking in more than a million Iraqi refugees. He said Mr. Assad was receptive to his ideas of “strength through peace.”

Romney’s denial

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign distanced itself yesterday from involvement in a Web site that attacked rival Fred Thompson.

The Web site, PhoneyFred .org, had opened with the line: “Phoney Fred. Acting like a conservative.” It was taken down Monday after inquiries by The Washington Post, which found links between the site and Warren Tompkins, a South Carolina political consultant hired by Mr. Romney.

“The site has no direct affiliation to our campaign, and we had no knowledge of its development,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said in reply to questions from Reuters news agency.

“Once we received inquiries about the site, we discovered it was created by an individual who parked the site temporarily on the company server space of a firm whose financial partner is a consultant to the campaign, Mr. Tompkins.”

Mr. Thompson, a former senator and Hollywood actor who entered the race last week, dismissed the site as “the lowest kind of politics,” said his spokesman, Todd Harris.

Martinez’s woes

“Democrats are marveling at the lack of clout ofSen. Mel Martinez, President Bush’s hand-picked man at the top of the Republican National Committee,” reporter Stephen Dinan writes in his “On the Republicans” blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“At a briefing with reporters last week, leaders at NDN, formerly the New Democrat Network, said Martinez’s list of failures is growing: He failed to win passage of the president’s immigration bill, has overseen a slide in support for Republicans from Hispanics, and can’t even convince his own state Republican legislature and governor to delay Florida’s primary to adhere to party rules.

“Martinez was tapped less than a year ago to head the RNC, but his name rarely shows up on e-mails and mailings from the RNC, and questions are mounting among both Republicans and Democrats about his effectiveness as chairman,” Mr. Dinan writes.

“Just last month, Martinez attacked the two top Republican presidential candidates, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, for opposing and mischaracterizing the Senate bill. But even on that, he stands at odds with his own party. Just two weeks earlier, the RNC had voted to embrace an enforcement-first strategy toward handling illegal immigration — a policy much closer to Giuliani and Romney than it is to the president.

“Apparently, questions are also growing in Florida about his effectiveness as senator. He is up for re-election next year and a new Quinnipiac University poll finds he has a 38 percent job-approval rating, a full 12 points below Florida’s other senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat. The poll shows Martinez’s support took a tumble earlier this year, about the time the immigration debate was taking place.”


“On the day of the long-anticipated report from Gen. David Petraeus on the ‘surge,’ the ‘CBS Evening News’ ignored how its latest poll discovered the third straight month of an increase in the percent of Americans who believe the surge has ‘made things better’ in Iraq,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“As the percentage has gone up, CBS’s interest in the result has gone down. In July, anchor Katie Couric led with how only 19 percent thought the surge was ‘making things better’ and a month later, in August, when that number jumped to 29 percent, CBS and Couric gave it just 12 seconds, 20 minutes into the newscast.”

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

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