- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The gun issue

“When Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton square off in an April 16 debate in Philadelphia, they may be forced to spend time discussing an issue neither has talked much about in this campaign: gun control,” Linda Douglass writes at national journal.com.

“April 16 will mark one year since the murder of 32 students at Virginia Tech, the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will stage events around the country that day calling for stronger gun regulations, and for the candidates, gun control will be thrust on the table suddenly and unavoidably,” the writer said.

“Guns are an especially potent issue in Pennsylvania, which is home to 300,000 members of the National Rifle Association — the highest per capita NRA membership in the country, according to Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. A 2002 Quinnipiac University poll found that 42 percent of Pennsylvania households have guns, including 54 percent of union households, a key Democratic constituency.

“Gun issues also stir up passions in Pennsylvania for another very different reason. Philadelphia has experienced an epidemic of gun killings: 331 people were shot to death last year, 321 with handguns.”

Double standard

ABC, NBC and CBS, in their Monday evening news shows, all neglected to mention that indicted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is a Democrat, the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mrc.org.

“ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on ‘World News’: ‘Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged today with felonies that could cost him his job and 15 years in prison.’

“ ’NBC Nightly News’ anchor Brian Williams relayed how ‘Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick … was indicted on perjury and other charges in the wake of a sex scandal there.’ (NBC also refused to tag Kilpatrick in a full story aired Friday night.)

“Over on Monday’s ‘CBS Evening News,’ fill-in anchor Harry Smith introduced a full story: ‘In Detroit, a sex scandal led to criminal charges today against the mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, a married father of three.’ ”

Mr. Baker added: “The big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a ‘Democrat.’ An examination of the 15 ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20 percent of the time — twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC.

“So, how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as ‘Republicans.’ Looking at the ABC, CBS, NBC morning and evening shows in the days after the most recent scandals broke, Republican Senators David Vitter (July) and Larry Craig (August) were labeled ‘Republican’ on every show (100 percent). Yet for Democrat Spitzer, four out of five news programs (80 percent) have skipped his party identification.”

Joining the probe

U.S. prosecutors are working with the State Department in its probe of unauthorized snooping into the passport records of presidential candidates, the Justice Department said yesterday.

The department’s role was disclosed after leading senators urged Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to investigate the incidents, first reported in The Washington Times. They criticized him over remarks that he would await developments before getting involved, Reuters news agency reports.

The State Department last week said three contract workers and one staff member improperly viewed passport records of the two Democratic candidates, Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain.

“We ask that you take immediate action to look into this matter,” Sens. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, said in a letter to Mr. Mukasey.

Credibility woes

“There is perhaps no clearer example of why the U.S. intelligence community has such a serious credibility problem than the recently released report on the relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and terrorist groups,” Michael Tanji writes at www.weekly standard.com.

“Media outlets friendly to the meme that there was no such connection were leaked a copy of the report and latched on to the statement that there was no ‘smoking gun’ linking Saddam and al Qaeda. Clearly, however, none of those reporters bothered to actually read the report or ask any critical questions,” said Mr. Tanji, a former supervisory intelligence officer in the Defense Department and a Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow.

“Anyone with a basic knowledge of Islamic terrorism who read the early headlines and then read the report cannot help but come away with a severe case of cognitive dissonance. Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism and had we not gone to war with Iraq after 9/11, it would still be a focal point in our fight against Islamic terror. That Saddam and bin Laden never shook hands — presumably the only ‘smoking gun’ that the most obtuse analysts of this subject would accept — is hardly the point. Glomming on to that narrowest parsing of al Qaeda here is akin to saying Sen. [Joe] Lieberman is not a Democrat because he has donned the label of Independent.”

Chelsea’s reply

Chelsea Clinton had a quick retort yesterday when asked whether her mother’s credibility had been hurt during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

“Wow, you’re the first person actually that’s ever asked me that question in the, I don’t know, maybe 70 college campuses I’ve now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business,” Miss Clinton said during a campaign visit for her mother, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Miss Clinton’s answer was met with loud applause from about 200 people in the audience at Indiana’s Butler University. After the applause, Miss Clinton responded, “and I also don’t think that should be the last question.”

She took another question on global warming and wrapped up the event, the Associated Press reports.

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

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