Jewish World Review April 12, 2005/ 3 Nissan, 5765

Wesley Pruden

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Consumer Reports

Scaring Republicans is this week's game | Every politician knows that when you don't have anything to say, shout it out.

This is the Democratic strategy in the two big food fights consuming Washington this week, plotted by the Democratic firm of Obstruction, Encumbrance, Loiter, Dally and Stall. Keep talking and maybe something to say will turn up.

The Republicans in the House, having recruited the media to lead the flying wedge, are going after Tom DeLay, the leader of House Republicans and the second-most powerful man in town. Over in the Senate, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, who bubble and squeak as only Washington has-beens and wannabes can, are recycling discredited objections in pursuit of John Bolton, the president's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Biden, since he wants to bring up old stuff, is an old hand at recycling old stuff. He's remembered mostly for a presidential campaign that wasn't going anywhere when he got caught mouthing speeches swiped from an unsuccessful leader of Britain's Labor Party. Joe is notoriously tone deaf, and droned on and on, something about his early life in a Welsh coal mine, not having bothered to adapt the purloined remarks to his own life.

Joe's tin ear for clichés was on full display yesterday. "Some have said that sending you to the U.N. would be like sending Nixon to China," he told Mr. Bolton on the first day of his confirmation hearings. "I'm afraid it would be more like sending a bull into a china shop."

Chris Dodd said Mr. Bolton once tried to cashier two intelligence analysts because he was about to make a speech at the Heritage Foundation contradicting what the "intelligence community" was telling him about whether Fidel Castro was flirting with developing biological weapons. Here's an exchange between the senator and the intelligence analyst months ago at an earlier hearing before a Senate subcommittee, as reported by the Wall Street Journal: Chris Dodd: "Did you have any disagreements with the draft of [Mr. Bolton's Heritage] speech?"

Carl Ford, the analyst: "On the intelligence side, we did not. We approved it. It was the language we had provided."

A casual reader might wonder why a United States senator would embarrass himself like this. But casual readers only rarely sample the thin soup sometimes served in the Senate. The soup gets even thinner in the House, where the Democrats are desperate to prevent the Republicans from locking up a semi-permanent majority. They're after Mr. DeLay for "ethical lapses," specifically for taking travel junkets and putting his relatives on his congressional payroll.

These are not accusations; they're statements of fact that Mr. DeLay does not deny. He did in fact go to Korea on a trip paid for by lobbyists; so had several Democrats, including a staffer for Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House. Mr. DeLay did in fact put his wife and daughter on his payroll. Anyone who has visited his Internet Web site could have seen the acknowledgment posted there.

However unsavory these practices may be, they're business as usual in Congress. It's true that some of us expected better things when the Republicans took over the House in 1994, but the Democrats are not angry because they expect Mr. DeLay and his Republicans to behave better than Democrats. They're angry because they're out of power and they're terrified they may be out of power for a long, long time. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who ran the campaign scam for the Clinton White House, is making getting Tom DeLay at whatever the cost the centerpiece of his tenure as director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Republicans have not yet shown signs of buckling. Only Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut, everyone's weak sister, has taken the Democratic bait. He demanded that Mr. DeLay step down as majority leader and was rewarded, as he expected, with a pat on the head by designated Democrats. The fight over George W.'s agenda in and out of Congress gets rougher from here.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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