Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Bob Filner of California was so impressed by Al Gore's movie about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," that he has volunteered to head any campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination that might be launched by the former vice president.

Although Gore has professed no intention to attempt a presidential rerun, his film-boosting tour has built nationwide party support. Filner, who recently survived a primary election challenge in his San Diego district, is a seven-term congressman who would chair the House Veteran Affairs Committee if Democrats win control this year.

A footnote: Filner was the only Jewish House member among 28 who signed Rep. Dennis Kucinich's resolution advocating a Middle East cease-fire. Filner immediately was contacted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobbying organization.

PELOSI'S SHUFFLE

House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, before hitting Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for criticizing Israeli conduct in the Mideast crisis, refused to sign a House resolution backing Israel.

House Majority Leader John Boehner declined Pelosi's request that the resolution call on both Israel and Hezbollah to minimize civilian casualties. Protracted negotiations between the leaders failed to reach agreement. Rep. Tom Lantos, ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, did sign the resolution, along with Boehner and International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde.

Pelosi was not alone in scolding al-Maliki. After the Iraqi premier concluded his address to Congress, prominent Democrats peppered him with criticism that linked him to President George W. Bush.

PAGING SCHUMER

Republican senators, in seeking renewed debate on judicial confirmations before the November elections, want to spotlight Sen. Charles Schumer of New York on national television.

Schumer, who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was one of the most aggressive Judiciary Committee members questioning Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito. During those hearings, Schumer expressed to colleagues frustration with his inability to target the conservative nominees.

In the belief that Schumer's performance hurt the Democratic cause, GOP senators want a high-profile nomination fight. During Tuesday's debate leading to Senate confirmation of Jerome Holmes as a circuit judge, Schumer voted no but uncharacteristically did not speak.

OHIO GOP COLLAPSE

Republican senators at last week's Tuesday luncheon meeting were stunned by news from Ohio of the Columbus Dispatch poll showing Sen. Mike DeWine behind his Democratic challenger, Rep. Sherrod Brown, by 8 percentage points.

The GOP senators had taken for granted that Sens. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and Conrad Burns in Montana are in trouble for re-election. However, it was widely assumed in Washington that DeWine was in relatively good shape because Brown is too liberal for Ohio.

Ohio, long regarded as the national key to Republican fortunes, is shaping up as a disaster area for the GOP in the wake of Gov. Bob Taft's unpopular administration. The Dispatch poll has Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland leading Secretary of State Ken Blackwell by 20 percentage points for governor.

PARTISANSHIP TRIUMPHS

Public signs of rare bipartisan cooperation on the superheated issue of abortion last Tuesday proved an illusion, when the Democratic leadership blocked a bill to strengthen state restrictions.

Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, sponsor of a bill prohibiting transportation across state lines to avoid a state's parental notification or consent laws, worked out one amendment with liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Such a bill had passed the House many times, but never before won Senate approval. The 65-to-34 vote was approved by 14 Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (but not Boxer).

However, when a routine motion was made to send the measure to a conference resolving differences with the House bill, Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin objected. Since polls show 80 percent national approval of this kind of legislation, Ensign has called for public pressure against Democratic obstruction. If that does not work, attempted parliamentary maneuvers would be long and difficult.


Robert Novak

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

 
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