Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dean’s latest

Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman who was the hero of his party’s anti-war wing before his gaffe-prone 2004 presidential candidacy crashed and burned in Iowa, still doesn’t think the Iraqis are better off with dictator Saddam Hussein out of power and in prison.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, the fiery former Vermont governor said, “It looks like today, and this could change, as of today it looks like women will be worse off in Iraq than they were when Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq.”

Mr. Dean was the guy who said right after Saddam was found hiding in a “spider hole” that his capture by U.S. troops “has not made America safer,” a statement ridiculed and condemned by most of his Democratic rivals at the time.

In a brief statement yesterday, the Republican National Committee said, “Dean’s wild assertion that Iraqi women would be better off living under Saddam Hussein than democracy is not only counterproductive to meaningful debate, it demeans the hard work of American servicemen and women serving in Iraq.”

Southern switch

One of the top Democrats in the Georgia House of Representatives switched sides last week.

State Rep. Greg Morris joined the GOP, giving Republicans 100 seats in the legislature.

“On major issues that are important to me and the people I represent, I’m out of step with the Democratic Party,” said Mr. Morris, from the southern Georgia city of Vidalia, best known for its sweet-onion crop.

Last year, Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time since Reconstruction, after winning the state Senate and the governor’s office in 2002. With the addition of Mr. Morris, Republicans now have a 20-seat edge in the 180-member state House.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Mr. Morris “had been [Democratic] Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor‘s de facto floor leader in the House and allowed to sit in on closed-door meetings of the Senate leadership when Democrats controlled that chamber.”

Silent Democrats

“The rancid attack ad against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts shows, in a nutshell, what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. Emphasis on nut,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“The $500,000 TV ad, paid for by an abortion-rights group, so viciously distorted Roberts’ record that nonpartisan watchdogs and even some liberals called for the ad to be withdrawn. Missing from the voices of reason was any Democratic official or party leader. New York’s senators were conspicuously silent,” Mr. Goodwin said.

Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s earlier call for ‘common ground’ on abortion would have more credibility had she condemned the ad’s false claims.

Sen. Chuck Schumer would have proved himself more than a partisan had he done more than brush off Roberts’ ads from both left and right as ‘just trying to stir the pot.’

“Neither Clinton nor Schumer even mildly rebuked a group that is part of their party’s base. It took Pennsylvania’s Sen. Arlen Specter, the pro-choice GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to blow the whistle. He called the ad ‘blatantly untrue and unfair’ and said it was hurting the pro-choice cause. It was then withdrawn.

“But the damage remains to the sponsor, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and, more important, to the quisling Dems. Their silence puts them in lockstep with the demagogues driving the party over the ideological cliff. Instead of speaking up for decency and integrity, they chose appeasement, if not agreement. Shame.”

Labor’s problem

“For the first time since 1938, the labor movement actually seems in danger of becoming politically irrelevant. Or at least that is the spin that commentators have offered. I’m not so certain,” pollster John Zogby writes at

“The AFL-CIO is effectively committed to the Democratic Party. So are the Teamsters and the SEIU and the other members of the nascent Change to Win Coalition. Teamsters President James P. Hoffa even addressed the 2004 Democratic National Convention. These groups will continue to support the Democrats, to donate to the Democrats and to mobilize resources on Election Day for the Democrats. Unionized voters will continue to be at least twice as likely to join the Democrats as the Republicans. And the Democrats will, in turn, continue to largely listen to organized labor,” Mr. Zogby said.

“But labor’s problem is not politics. Labor’s problem is labor. Labor faces a crisis in confidence among nonunion workers. A poll I recently conducted on behalf of the Public Service Research Foundation found that a 56 percent majority of workers who are not organized wouldn’t vote to organize — while just 35 percent would consider doing so. And for America’s organized labor movement, that’s a significant problem. …

“Two summers ago, I asked voters whether the AFL-CIO spoke for them when they went to the polls. The answers produced a real surprise: Among unionized likely voters, just 27 percent said the AFL-CIO spoke for them all or most of the time. This was lower than the 32 percent of unionized voters who said the National Rifle Association spoke for them. In fact, nearly as many unionized workers (23 percent) said the Republicans spoke for them as said the AFL-CIO, while a higher percentage — 35 percent — believed that the Democrats spoke for them.”

Tour de Texas

President Bush is getting plenty of bike time during his ranch vacation and next week he even gets to hit the trails with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Mr. Armstrong told ABC’s “This Week” that he’ll travel to Crawford, Texas, Saturday to ride mountain bikes with the president around Mr. Bush’s ranch.

“It’s a dream scenario for me,” Mr. Armstrong said. “Now that President Bush doesn’t run anymore, he rides his mountain bike fanatically. People wonder why he stays at the ranch so long. It might be the mountain-bike trails.”

It also must be a dream scenario for Mr. Bush to ride with Mr. Armstrong, a fellow Texan and a cancer survivor who last month won his most recent Tour de France, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Bush has become an avid biker in the past couple of years, after a knee injury forced him to give up his jogging routine.

“Like a lot of baby boomers, my knees gave out,” Mr. Bush explained to seven journalists who accompanied him on a two-hour ride Saturday. “And I believe that mountain biking is going to be an outlet for a lot of people my age. I’m 59, and people are going to realize you get as much aerobic exercise — if not more — on the mountain bike, without being hobbled.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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