Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Changing the tone

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, said yesterday he hopes Democrats seize control of Congress — with one caveat.

A Democratic-led Congress, he said, must change its ways.

“It won’t represent progress that’s real,” Mr. Lieberman told reporters while stopping at a transportation forum in New Haven. “It’s not going to be much of a step forward if there’s a new Democratic leadership that doesn’t change the tone in Washington.”

As recently as Friday, Mr. Lieberman, a lifelong Democrat who was his party’s nominee for vice president in 2000, would not say whether he thinks the nation would be better off with Democrats in control of Congress, the Associated Press reports.

Conspiracy theory

“Although a Monday ‘CBS Evening News’ story included a sound bite from an expert dismissing the idea as ‘preposterous,’ the newscast treated a far-left conspiracy theory — about how the Bush administration is somehow manipulating the pump price for gas to help in the election — as credible and worthy enough to deserve a broadcast network story,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at

“Citing how the price of a gallon of gas has fallen to the lowest all year, anchor Katie Couric wondered: ‘Is this an election-year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans?’ Over a shot of a ‘GOP: Grand Oil Party’ bumper sticker laying on a dashboard, reporter Anthony Mason asserted: ‘Gas started going down just as the fall campaign started heating up. Coincidence? Some drivers don’t think so.’

“The man in the car insisted ‘I think it’s basically a ploy to sort of get the American people to think, well, the economy is going good, let’s vote Republican.’ Over headlines from Daily Kos and Huffington Post, Mason conceded you can ‘call the conspiracy theory crazy,’ but he touted how ‘it’s spreading through Internet blogs and over the airwaves.’”

Name game

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton finally has admitted she was not named for the famous conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary.

The New York Times, which repeated the claim as fact in a story just one week ago, reported Mrs. Clinton’s campaign issued a correction yesterday, WorldNetDaily said.

“It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results, I might add,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Hanley.

For more than a decade, Mrs. Clinton’s informal biography repeated the story, and it was recounted in former President Bill Clinton‘s 2004 autobiography, “My Life.”

The problem with the tale, however, is one of timing: Sir Edmund and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, became known to the world only in 1953, after becoming the first men to reach Everest’s summit. Mrs. Clinton was born in 1947.

Kerry’s choice

John Kerry is out to show Granite State Democrats that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks,” Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh writes.

“And judging from the response he got to a Friday night speech [in Manchester, N.H.], the voters who helped launch him into orbit in 2004 are at least willing to give him another look as the 2008 campaign cycle approaches,” the columnist said.

“Still, as he plots a second presidential bid, Kerry finds himself in uneasy limbo. After a 2004 effort whose strengths were marred by equally glaring shortcomings, he is neither a particularly compelling aspirant for the Democratic nomination nor a completely implausible one.

“Further complicating things is Massachusetts political reality: If Kerry does begin even an undeclared presidential campaign, as the months roll by he will come under increasing pressure to announce that he won’t seek re-election to his Senate seat, which is also up in 2008. …

“Kerry says he has plenty of time to decide. But though it would be technically possible to switch courses and seek re-election to the Senate as late as spring 2008, close observers think he will face strong pressure from his own party to make his choice clear by fall 2007, particularly if a plausible Republican or independent candidate begins eyeing the Senate race.”

Trick or treat wants to organize trick-or-treat events for Democrats in Washington before Election Day.

The liberal Internet-based group will be “holding another big round of national phone parties the weekend before Halloween,” the group’s political action committee wrote yesterday in an e-mail to its supporters, seeking to boost Democratic turnout in the Nov. 7 midterm elections.

“We’ll be making turnout calls to key voters, and we’ll spice things up with an optional costume contest, some pumpkin carving (Cheney-o-lantern anyone?) and — of course — some great candy. We need at least 1,000 hosts to sign up this week so we hit our call goals and target new districts. And we know there are folks near Washington ready to make calls, if someone will step up and host. Can you host a Halloween call party at your place?” PAC is “entirely funded by our 3.2 million members,” the group says, but that “membership” figure actually refers to the number of addresses on the group’s e-mail list. The PAC’s funding base is smaller: 3,802 contributors gave more than $200 each in the current election cycle, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, with $1.7 million in total contributions for 2006.

Liberal talker

Pollster John Zogby announced yesterday he is joining a new liberal radio talk network.

Mr. Zogby said he will co-host a weekly one-hour show, “The Pulse of the Nation,” broadcast on affiliates of Nova M Radio Inc., based in Phoenix.

Party of the rich

Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Party’s leader in the Senate, “will reimburse his campaign fund for $3,300 that it spent on Christmas bonuses for workers at the Ritz-Carlton luxury condominium where he lives in Washington,” the Associated Press reported Monday. Which raises the question: “The Ritz-Carlton?” asked by the New York Sun in an editorial.

“The Democrats, who tout themselves as the party of the common man, are rapidly turning into the party of the plutocrats. The Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Ned Lamont of Greenwich, is an heir to a J.P. Morgan fortune who has spent $10 million of his own money trying to purchase a Senate seat. The Democratic Party’s candidate for governor in New York, Eliot Spitzer, is accused by his Republican rival of having begun his political career with a $9 million loan from his father,” the newspaper said.

Senator Clinton, who seeks to be the standard-bearer in 2008, splits her time between a $2.8 million mansion in Washington that recently underwent an expansion and upgrade that cost an additional $900,000, and a $1.7 million, 5-bedroom house with a swimming pool in the Westchester town of Chappaqua.

Senator Kerry, the party’s nominee for president in 2004, lives in a $10 million townhouse on Louisburg Square in Boston’s Beacon Hill and summers at Nantucket. The Rockefeller in the Senate is a Democrat who represents West Virginia.”

The Sun said that “at a certain point it is going to become hard for the Democratic Party’s leaders to assail the Republicans as the party of the rich without blushing, or without a chuckle from ordinary Americans who follow the news.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/63-3285 or

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