Sen. Ernest F. (Fritz) Hollings, concluding a 38-year Senate career, has created a furor that could threaten the election in South Carolina of a fellow Democrat to succeed him and could reverberate nationwide.
In a May 7 column for the The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., the 82-year-old Hollings accused President Bush of invading Iraq "to secure Israel" and "take the Jewish vote from the Democrats." He said former Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, all of whom are Jewish, were trying "to guarantee Israel's security."
Sen. George Allen of Virginia, Senate Republican campaign chairman, accused Hollings of making "anti-Semitic, political conspiracy statements." Democratic strategists fear Hollings's comments not only hurt the campaign to succeed him by Democratic State Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum (who is not Jewish), but also extend beyond South Carolina's borders.
CIVIL RIGHTS POLITICS
When no Republican member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission turned up for Monday's meeting earlier than 11 minutes after the scheduled 9:30 a.m. starting time, liberal chairman Mary Frances Berry adjourned the meeting. That foiled Republican attempts for a debate on manipulation of the Senate's judicial confirmation process.
This column reported that Republican Commissioner Peter Kirsanow planned to ask for an investigation of allegations that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund succeeded in delaying confirmation of a conservative federal appellate judge. That permitted an appellate court ruling in favor of affirmative action. Kirsanow had planned to ask Berry to recuse herself because she serves on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's board.
Kirsanow indicated he will try again at the commission's monthly meeting in June.