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.

CONSERVATIVE ZELL

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.

MADAME BUTTERFLY

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."

GRASSLEY'S PORK

The "pork" sponsored by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa that House Speaker Dennis Hastert claimed has been holding up passage of an energy bill is a proposed indoor rainforest near Coralville, Iowa.

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is insisting on legislation to permit tax-exempt bonds. Grassley contends that the Iowa project is one of five similar ventures, with locations in Syracuse, N.Y., Shreveport, La., Lakewood, Colo., and Atlanta.

The Iowa rainforest, called the Iowa Child Project, was proposed by Ted Townsend, a Des Moines businessman who has contributed mostly to Republicans (including Grassley).

CALIFORNIA COMEBACK?

Dan Lungren's attempted political comeback by running for Congress from California next year is facing opposition from conservatives who blame his failed campaign for governor in 1998 for Democrat Gray Davis's election.

As a 10-year congressman and two-term state attorney general, Lungren was considered a national Republican comer until his disastrous gubernatorial candidacy. He announced last week as a candidate for Congress from a heavily Republican Sacramento district where conservative Rep. Doug Ose is not seeking re-election. State Sen. Rico Oller, a conservative who began running for Ose's seat months ago, is considered the favorite against Lungren in the primary.

Well-known in Washington, Lungren has begun fund-raising in the capital with a mailing to leading Republican lobbyists. He has hired Sheri Lee Norris as his Washington fund-raising consultant.


Robert Novak

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

 
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