Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Change of heart

The Republican senator who upset the White House last year by opposing President Bush’s choice for U.N. ambassador now says John R. Bolton is “a changed man” whom he might support should Mr. Bush renew the appointment.

Ohio Sen. George V. Voinovich said yesterday he has been watching Mr. Bolton closely since he became ambassador on Aug. 1. Mr. Bush temporarily installed Mr. Bolton while Congress was in recess after Mr. Voinovich joined most Democrats in blocking a Senate vote on the nomination in May.

At the time, Mr. Voinovich called him a bully who would make critical U.N. reforms harder to achieve.

“John Bolton at this point is a changed man,” Mr. Voinovich told reporters. “I want reform of the United Nations, so I’ve worked with John and stayed on top of John to make sure he takes this wonderful opportunity.”

Mr. Bolton’s appointment expires in January. If Bush renominates him, Mr. Voinovich said he “might not take the same position as last time.”

Mr. Voinovich said he has been impressed with Mr. Bolton’s flair for diplomacy since he got to the United Nations, especially when the United States ran into opposition to some of its proposals for overhauling the international body, the Associated Press reports.

“The old Bolton would have said this is terrible, but instead he said we don’t agree, but we’re going to stick with it,” Mr. Voinovich said. “It’s a whole different attitude from the old attitude when John would have given them the back of his hand and walked out.”

Pressing their case

A group of pro-life lawmakers and groups today will turn up the heat on their leaders and demand a House vote on a bill that would ban from the U.S. market the drug some refer to as the abortion pill, RU-486, or mifepristone.

Republican Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana, Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and other lawmakers, will join Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life Committee, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other pro-life groups today in demanding House action.

This coalition is particularly upset because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a few weeks ago learned that two women died after taking mifepristone. The news came after a warning by the FDA about the dangers of RU-486. And they point out that the government is still looking into the role of the drug in the death of four California women.

The bill that pro-lifers are demanding would withdraw FDA approval of RU-486 and subject it to a thorough review.

“In the meantime, this drug that endangers women’s lives … remains available despite ongoing investigations and continued warnings that have made it clear that the drug is not safe and should not remain available,” read a release that Mr. Pence’s office circulated.

The measure — called Holly’s law — is named after 18-year-old Holly Patterson who died after taking the drug.

In denial

“The New York Times [yesterday] joined the debate about Iraqi documents with a front-page news article and an op-ed by Peter Bergen,” Stephen Hayes writes at

“It’s been nearly two weeks since the first documents were released, but a belated acknowledgement of the news is better than nothing. One might have expected such a longtime champion of open government as the Times to have aggressively led the effort to have these once-secret documents released. Not this time,” Mr. Hayes said.

“The front-page story seeks to dismiss the importance of the documents while the op-ed by Bergen seems to find them only significant enough to warrant an attempted deconstruction. Both of these efforts fail badly. Reading the two pieces together, one gets the unmistakable impression that the Times doesn’t want to know more about the documents, their contents and what they tell us about prewar Iraq. The Times, it seems, has chosen ignorance.

“The news piece deserves little in the way of a response. Reporter Scott Shane casts the story as a battle between diehard supporters of the Bush administration and the truth, noting most helpfully that in other Internet projects ‘volunteers have tested software, scanned chemical compounds for useful drugs and even searched radiotelescope data for signals from extraterrestrial life.’”

Reed’s response

Ralph Reed, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia, has responded to a state senator who accused him of “stunning hypocrisy” on the property rights issue.

State Sen. Chip Pearson sent a letter to Mr. Reed, accusing him of mounting a false and unfair attack on Republican rival state Sen. Casey Cagle, “a proven defender of property rights.”

Mr. Pearson also charged that, in an e-mail, Mr. Reed attacked his rival for accepting contributions from “those of us in the real estate industry.”

Mr. Reed, in a “Dear Chip” letter, replied: “You do not address the question that Casey has declined to answer: Why did he leave the floor of the state Senate and miss the most important vote on private property rights in the 2005 legislative session? He voted seven times before and 14 times after the vote on S.B. 86. But when the time came to stand for private property rights, he left the floor, and he has yet to explain to the voters why he did so.”

Mr. Reed flatly denied that he had criticized Mr. Cagle for taking contributions from those in real estate or any other line of work.

DeLay’s request

Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, wants his right to carry a firearm restored after the state of Texas revoked his permit following his indictment last year.

The former House majority leader’s license to carry a concealed handgun was taken away after he was indicted on campaign-finance charges, but he has appealed the revocation, DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said yesterday.

She would not say whether Mr. DeLay, a gun rights advocate who spoke last year at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Houston, carries a gun.

“That’s the point of having a [concealed handgun license] in Texas — potential criminals should assume everyone is [carrying],” the spokeswoman said.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said she could not disclose how long Mr. DeLay has had the gun permit, but that state law dictates it be revoked upon indictment on felony charges.

Master of ceremonies

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will will serve as master of ceremonies for the 2006 Bradley Prizes.

The third annual awards ceremony will be held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on May 25. Up to four persons will be honored, each receiving a stipend of $250,000.

Established in 2003, the Bradley Prizes honor outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves in promoting democratic capitalism, freedom and the defense of American institutions. Mr. Will was named a Bradley Prize recipient last year.

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

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