Sunday, August 7, 2005

Quick-draw PFAW

ABC News’ “This Week” dipped into its archives yesterday to broadcast an interview with Judge John G. Roberts Jr. that originally aired July 2, 2000.

Among other things, Judge Roberts noted that court rulings that struck down limits on abortion, continued strict church-state separation and upheld the Miranda decision made “a compelling case that we do not have a very conservative Supreme Court.”

When asked whether the “conservative counterrevolution” on the court was over, Judge Roberts said, “I think a lot will depend on new appointments and the types of cases that do come before the court.”

The old footage of the man whom President Bush nominated to the Supreme Court last month vexed Ralph G. Neas, People for the American Way president.

“It is clearer than ever that the confirmation of John Roberts would mean replacing Sandra Day O’Connor with someone who has viewed her as an impediment to the ultraconservative legal movement he helped lead as a political appointee during the Reagan and first Bush administrations,” Mr. Neas said yesterday.

“Roberts’ careful way with words cannot be allowed to mask the truth about his approach to the Constitution,” he concluded.

Are ya listening?

The Oregonian’s David Reinhard had advice for Air America listeners yesterday, no doubt scandalized, he writes, by the “Enronesque” revelations that the liberal talk-radio network received a six-figure startup loan from a New York charity that was supposed to provide services for needy youngsters.

“Leftist listeners need to really showcase that storied compassion of theirs. Yes, how about a radio-thon to raise funds for kids and Alzheimer’s patients across this broad land? Lefty listeners could, well, ‘Give piece of change.’”

“Better yet, progressive forces should do what they do best — hold a rock concert. Al Franken probably could put the finger on some major talent. It’s hard to imagine that the Dixie Chicks, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand wouldn’t want to participate in a Live Air America Aid concert. The guess here is that even stars who said they would leave the United States if Bush were elected or re-elected would return home to help the victims of this hideous corporate scandal.”

CNN’s new situation

Video walls, multiple plasma screens, “transparent news” — is it NASA control? No, it’s CNN, which showcases it all on the inaugural broadcast of “The Situation Room,” which debuts this afternoon.

The news show, which will have Wolf Blitzer as anchorman, borrows its name from the White House “Situation Room” — the perch for major players in times of crisis.

The program features analysts in homeland security, politics, national and world affairs — all part of CNN’s new “Security Council.” Mr. Blitzer, however, is adamant that the network is not forgetting its news mission.

“We’re emphasizing serious, old-fashioned journalism,” he told The Washington Times in an interview yesterday. “We’re going to do this well, do it smart. Do it quickly and not be held hostage by anyone or anything. And we’re going to get it on between 3-6 p.m.”

Contributors will include Paul Begala, James Carville and — maybe — Robert Novak, though he was suspended from the air last week after swearing at Mr. Carville and storming off the set.

Explosive findings

What would Harry S. Truman think?

Six decades after President Truman decided in 1945 to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Aug. 6 and 9, respectively, a majority of Americans — 57 percent — say they approve of using the bombs, while 38 percent disapprove, according to a new Gallup poll.

Then there’s always politics.

“Similarly, 73 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and just 47 pecent of Democrats approve. An irony here is that it was a Democratic president who made the decision to drop the bombs, though now Democrats give the least support among the three partisan groups,” Gallup dryly observed.

The poll of 1,010 national adults was conducted July 25-28 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Hill-Billy blues

The Times of London yesterday wondered what might have been — if then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had dumped her hubby after the Monica Lewinsky matter, but gone on to represent New York in the U.S. Senate.

“Imagine Clinton as he might have been: a divorc rattling around the former presidents’ lecture circuit with a quadruple heart bypass, while his former wife labored in the Senate, her ambition to become the first woman elected to the White House deflated by her husband’s loss of prestige,” the Times noted at the start of a lengthy personal interview with former President Bill Clinton.

But the paper went on to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

“His illness was an enormous shock to them both, although it carried a political bonus. It kept Clinton, who had agreed to campaign for the Democrat nominee in 2004, from overinvesting in a John Kerry victory. As a result, the door to the White House remains tantalizingly ajar for Hillary.”

The paper observed, “Already, Clinton is positioning her to criticize the war in Iraq from the right.” Bill did some whimpering, though.

“He is impressed, he says, by Hillary’s ability to work on cross-party issues with right-wing senators. ‘In a time when the atmosphere has been so hostile and partisan to me, I think they just got to know her as a person. They see her all day, every day. It’s easier to dehumanize somebody when you are distant from them.’” Mr. Clinton told the Times.

40 winks or $1,000

But officer — it’s just my Barcalounger.

The folks in Anderson, S.C., can forget about dragging furniture out on their front porch if Mayor Bea Thompson has anything to say about it.

The mayor is pushing a proposed Anderson City Council ordinance that would ban sofas and chairs from porches in the name of community beautification, claiming they’re just as big an eyesore as Ford Fairlanes or Kelvinators rusting in the petunias.

The officials are serious. Violators could be fined $1,000.

“Your house could look a little bit better; your whole neighborhood could look a little bit better if you didn’t have that couch, or if you had the appropriate porch furniture,” Mrs. Thompson told WFYY, the local NBC affiliate. “Don’t store refrigerators or stoves on your front porch.”

• Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washington or 202/636-3085.

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