Cindy vs. Hillary

Robert Novak

10/22/2005 12:05:00 AM - Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Largely ignored by the mainstream news media, anti-Iraq War protester Cindy Sheehan has declared she cannot support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president until the senator publicly advocates withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Harsh criticism of President Bush by Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was faithfully reported for months. But she was hardly covered last Saturday when she called Clinton "a political animal who believes she has to be a war hawk to keep up with the big boys." Sheehan's criticism was posted on left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore's website.

While desiring to support Clinton for president, Sheehan said to her: "I will resist your candidacy with every bit of my power and strength unless you show us the wisdom it takes to be a truly great leader. . . . Sen. Clinton: come out against this occupation of Iraq."

FRAIL BYRD

Robert Byrd, senior U.S. senator in both age and seniority, looked exceptionally frail Tuesday attending an unveiling of the Capitol portrait of Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. Byrd will be 88 years old Nov. 20. He was introduced at the event by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, but did not speak.

Byrd's appearance fueled speculation that he will not campaign much in person as he seeks a ninth term from West Virginia next year but will rely on television ads financed by his massive war chest. Filings showed he collected $924,000 in contributions for the third quarter ending Sept. 30, giving him a massive $2,350,000 in cash on hand.

Republican planners still regard Byrd as a prime target though their first choice to challenge him, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, did not run. Byrd may face either former West Virginia University basketball coach Gale Catlett or West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

NO-SHOW DEAN

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean routinely turns down requests from all television networks for traditional joint appearances with his Republican counterpart, Ken Mehlman.

Dean is a former governor of Vermont and was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, while Mehlman is a former staffer with little past TV experience. Dean may wish to avoid what happened during the last election cycle to then DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who consistently came out second best against then RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, who, like Mehlman, had previously been a staffer.

Republicans grumble that Mehlman gets no reward for accepting the invitations to joint appearances, because Dean ends up going on the air by himself anyway.

NO-SHOW BUSH

George W. Bush was not present last Saturday night for the black-tie banquet of the National Italian-American Foundation (NIAF) at the Washington Hilton Hotel for the fifth straight year of his presidency.

That angered Republican members of NIAF, the leading organization of one ethnic group split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. During the eight years of the Clinton presidency, either Bill or Hillary Clinton made every NIAF dinner.

President Bush's aides told NIAF that he does not like to go out on Saturday nights. However, Bush has attended such events of the Alfalfa Club, the Gridiron Club and the White House Correspondents' Association and stayed the entire evening. NIAF would be happy if Bush, like Clinton, just delivered pre-dinner remarks and then left.

HONORING A COMMUNIST

A new sidewalk sculpture exhibit in downtown Washington honoring founders of "enduring social movements" as "positive role models" for American youth includes W.E.B. Du Bois, a NAACP founder who was a longtime vocal champion of the Soviet Union and joined the Communist Party before he died.

The website for the exhibit ("The Extra Mile") acknowledges Du Bois's Communist and pro-Soviet leanings, but blames them on U.S. policies. "The government continued its attacks on [Du Bois] and his organization, assuming that only a Soviet agent would advocate for peace," according to the website.

"The Extra Mile" is a project of the Points of Light Foundation, which was inspired by President George H.W. Bush. The Du Bois exhibit was sponsored by Freddie Mac, the quasi-governmental mortgage-trading firm.