Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Eight of the District of Columbia City Council's 13 members want to disinvite George W. Bush from throwing out the first ball when Major League Baseball returns to Washington April 14 for the first time since 1971.

 The resolution sponsored by the eight Council members does not mention President Bush but has him in mind by asserting that "a ceremonial first pitch delivered by someone who opposes District voting rights will undermine efforts to secure full District voting rights in the United States Congress." It suggests instead that first ball honors go to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's non-voting delegate in Congress.

 The resolution is opposed by Mayor Anthony Williams, who is a strong advocate of D.C. voting rights but invited Bush for the traditional presidential first pitch. Williams also led the fight to return baseball to Washington. The resolution's chief sponsor is Councilman David Catania, a Republican-turned-independent. Catania opposed the stadium-financing arrangement, crafted by Williams, that was necessary to get baseball back.


 Nearly half of the Congressional Black Caucus members who voted in the House on the Terri Schiavo case last weekend supported the Republican-sponsored bill, but none participated in the debate and only one put a statement on his website.

 Nine voted yes, 13 voted no, and 18 were not present. Supporters included such prominent African-American congressmen as Harold Ford of Tennessee and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois. They all kept quiet about it except for Albert Wynn of Maryland.

 While he said nothing during House debate, Wynn's statement on his website said that while the case should not have been brought before Congress, he added that it had become "a question of conscience." In the absence of a living will, he said, "Congress should afford Ms. Schiavo the opportunity to continue receiving life-saving sustenance."


 Republican insiders say their fears have been realized that Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina would not be sufficiently aggressive as Senate Republican campaign chairman in recruiting candidates for 2006.

 Rep. Candice Miller, the strongest Republican to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, has ruled out making the race. No strong candidate has been found to challenge Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in overwhelmingly Republican Nebraska. Sen. Hillary Clinton appears uncontested in New York. The Republicans face potentially messy primary races in Florida and Tennessee, without a winner in sight.

Robert Novak

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

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