Friday, June 23, 2006

Sure sign

“The best proof that Al Gore wants to keep the door open to a 2008 White House bid is how he (again) back-stabbed 2000 running mate Joe Lieberman by refusing to back his Senate re-election,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“It’s laughable for Gore to claim, as he has, that ‘I typically do not get involved in Democratic primaries’ — since he effusively endorsed Howard Dean for president (over Lieberman) in 2004,” Miss Orin said.

“It sure looks as if Gore is afraid of enraging the anti-Iraq war Democratic left, which has rallied behind Lieberman’s anti-war primary challenger, multimillionaire Ned Lamont. If Gore wasn’t mulling 2008, he’d have no reason to worry about upsetting MoveOn, the DailyKos blog world and the Deaniacs who are all frantic to show their clout by getting Lieberman’s scalp.”

Barking mad

“It has occurred to me that both parties increasingly dislike their bases, but for different reasons and to different degrees,” Peggy Noonan writes at

“By both parties I mean the leaders and representatives of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington. I believe I correctly observe that they feel an increasing intellectual estrangement from and impatience with the activists who people their base of support.

“And this is something new,” Miss Noonan said.

Today’s Republican leaders think they “know the higher wisdom on such issues as immigration. They feel less fealty to the insights of the base. They know more than the base, are more experienced than the base, have a more nuanced sense of reality. And as for conservative social issues groups, the politicians resent those nagging, whining pushers-for-the-impossible who are always threatening to stay home or go elsewhere. (Where?)”

“On the Democratic side, it is not just as bad but worse. They don’t only think they’re more sophisticated than their base, more informed and aware of the complexities. I believe they think their base is mad.

“You can see their problem in their inability to get a slogan. Which, believe me, is how they think of it: a slogan. ‘Together for a Better Future.’ ‘A Future With Better Togetherness.’ Today for a better tomorrow, tomorrow for a better today.

“A party has a hard time saying what it stands for only when it doesn’t know what it stands for. It has trouble getting a compelling slogan only when it has no idea what compels its base. Or when it fears what compels it.”

Miss Noonan added: “Democratic leaders in Washington are in a worse position than Republican leaders in Washington. Neither likes their base, really, and both think they are smarter. But the Democrats think, deep down, that their base is barking mad. The Republicans don’t. They just think their base is a bore.”

More oxygen

Five days after Chris Suellentrop of the New York Times raised questions about the relationship between Democratic Party activist Jerome Armstrong (a consultant for former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner) and super-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (, Mr. Moulitsas declared war — on the New Republic and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.

That’s because the magazine’s Jason Zengerle reported Wednesday in the New Republic Online ( that Mr. Moulitsas had sent an e-mail urging other liberal bloggers to “ignore” Mr. Suellentrop’s story and “starve it of oxygen.”

Mr. Moulitsas fired back early yesterday, declaring on his blog that the New Republic, whose editor in chief is Al Gore mentor Martin Peretz, “seeks to destroy the new people-powered movement for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neocon owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutosphere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats.”

“This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into — just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy,” wrote Mr. Moulitsas, who has strongly supported Mr. Lieberman’s Democratic primary challenger Ned Lamont.

“It is now beyond clear that the dying New Republic is mortally wounded and cornered, desperate for relevance. … We have hit their bottom line, we are hitting their patron saint hard (Joe Lieberman) and this is how they respond. By going after the entire movement,” Mr. Moulitsas said.

Yet the liberal blogger had nothing to say about Mr. Suellentrop, who first reported a Securities and Exchange Commission case involving Mr. Armstrong, and suggested that Mr. Armstrong’s consulting clients were receiving favorable treatment at DailyKos. So far, Mr. Suellentrop’s reporting on the issue has been available only in the New York Times’ subscribers-only “select” blog, not in the paper’s print edition.

Getting it done

House Republican leaders yesterday hit back at critics who have charged that the House is delaying a final immigration bill, saying that’s flatly false and their goal is to negotiate a final bill this year that is crafted correctly and heavy on border security.

“Our goal is to send an immigration bill to the president,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. “We want to make sure Congress does this the right way.”

The House and Senate have approved vastly different immigration bills, which await final House-Senate negotiations. But House leaders recently announced more immigration hearings in the next few months, prompting critics to say they’re dragging their feet to avoid a final bill.

“I reject emphatically that the House of Representatives is dragging their feet,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican. “We want a good bill; we want to get it done.”

Meanwhile, the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, circulated a packet blaming the porous borders on Republicans underfunding border security for the past several years.

Backing DeWine

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence yesterday endorsed Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, making him the first Senate candidate of the 2006 election season to win the group’s support.

Mr. DeWine “consistently and reliably does the right thing for his country and for the people of Ohio,” said Sarah Brady, honorary chairwoman of the Brady Campaign. “While many politicians pander to ideologically out of touch special interests, Mike DeWine does the hard work on bread and butter issues and defends the rights of the majority. Ohioans are very, very lucky to have this man on their side.”

The group cited Mr. DeWine’s unsuccessful effort to block legislation that prevents gunshot victims from suing gun dealers and manufacturers for negligence. The bill passed and was signed by President Bush.

“In politics, you are defined as much by the battles you fight where you fail as those in which you win,” said Michael D. Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign. “Mike DeWine is representative of the best of those in public life.”

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

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