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Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2001 / 27 Teves, 5761

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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Consumer Reports

Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C. -- There's a new kid in town. By the White House, the guy who makes a living selling photos of tourists standing next to life size photos of Bill and Hillary has two new pics: Dubya and Mrs. Dubya. (Figure he can hang onto Hillary's image, since she is now a senator.)

Across town, GOP pollster Lance Tarrance told the Republican National Committee's Winter Conference on Wednesday, "We're going to have a lot more close elections." He cited statistics from elections following the 1876 Hayes/Tilden race, when Demo Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, but Repub Rutherford B. Hayes won the Electoral College. The next four straight presidential elections, he noted, were "excrutiatingly close."

Tarrance expects the same for the next few elections as well. "Demography is destiny," he explained, and the country is split close to the center. Considering that the Republicans have to win the big middle, many observers wonder why President-elect George W. Bush chose staunch pro-lifer John Ashcroft to be his attorney general.

Pollster Ed Goeas may have the answer to that. He told the RNC confab that some 6 million fewer white Christian conservatives voted in this election than are registered. Perhaps an Attorney General Ashcroft would give those not-quite voters a reason to brave the cold and vote in November 2004.

On the other side, Ann Stone, head of Republicans for Choice, feels sunny about the incoming administration. On Thursday afternoon, she was distributing her group's applause for Bush's decision to designate the pro-choice Gale Norton as his interior secretary. Stone believes that the majority of the Bush Cabinet designees support abortion rights, although she was not sure of all of their positions.

Many of the Bush/Cheney transition team members didn't know either, or were not inclined to share that information. (Some 16 spokespersons have worked as handlers for one or more of the 15 designees. The handler for the would-be agriculture and housing secretaries left a message telling me that because abortion has nothing to do with their duties, he -- now working on the taxpayer dime -- would not disclose their positions.)

From what I could glean, at least four nominees -- Norton, would-be Secretary of State Colin Powell, likely transportation czar Norm Mineta and likely Environmental Protection Agency head Christie Whitman -- are pro-choice. Three -- Ashcroft; Tommy Thompson, who would head health and human services, and Don Evans, commerce secretary designee -- call themselves pro-life. The Bushies may not be thrilled about this, but the next time you hear someone say that this Cabinet lacks ideological diversity, ask how many Clinton Cabinet members that person can name who disagreed with Clinton on abortion.

Henry A. Hough of the 60 Plus Association -- which he described as anti-AARP -- has been enjoying minor celebrity over the Ashcroft dispute. On Tuesday, he crashed a press conference put on by feminist organizations opposed to Ashcroft where he flashed a sign that read, "Don't Bork Ashcroft." Hough got his face on C-SPAN and won mention in the Capitol newspaper, The Hill.

When one feminist confronted him, he enjoys telling fellow conservatives, he told her, "Why you look rather pretty."

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate