Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The disenchantment of prominent New York City liberals with retired Gen. Wesley Clark's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination hit new levels Tuesday when he endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

Some two months ago, these Democrats were charmed by a general who appeared to take dependably liberal positions on all issues. Since then, they have been disappointed by Clark's performance. But what startled them was Clark's Veterans Day speech at an American Legion hall in Manchester, N.H., backing a House-passed flag amendment sponsored by Republicans.

A footnote: Sen. John Kerry, the earlier liberal favorite, did not please his former liberal backers Tuesday night when he drove onto the set of Jay Leno's NBC show, dressed as a biker, on a Harley-Davidson.


Maverick Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia has been lined up to address the 31st annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Arlington, Va., Jan. 22-24, and may be the keynote speaker at an event that until now has been limited to Republicans.

Former Gov. Miller, appointed by Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes to fill a Senate vacancy, was elected in 2000 for the four years remaining in the term as a moderate, but clearly partisan, Democrat. After coming under fire from fellow Democrats for co-sponsoring President Bush's first tax cut proposal in 2001, Miller has steadily moved away from his party -- culminating in the publication of his memoir, "A National Party No More."

Democratic strategists fear that Miller, who is not seeking re-election in 2004, will campaign for the Republican Senate nominee in Georgia. He already has announced his support for President Bush's second term.


Democrat Theresa LePore, who as Palm Beach County (Fla.) supervisor of elections was responsible for the 2000 butterfly ballot blamed by Al Gore's supporters for losing the presidency, has been targeted by the Democratic establishment for defeat in next year's non-partisan election for the post.

Rep. Robert Wexler has declared LePore's defeat next year as a priority for him. Her opponent, former school board member Arthur Anderson, announced his candidacy by accusing LePore of acts of "omission and negligence" that created "a dangerous and evil situation for our society."

LePore's supporters are making the best of the 2000 Florida election dispute. An appeal for funds says Democrats think she "is responsible for their loss" in the 2000 recount, "and now she is running for re-election and you have a chance to help and beat the Democrats -- again."


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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