Conscience, at least

Posted: Nov 01, 2002 12:00 AM
Democrats are coming under sharp criticism for turning this week's public funeral for Sen. Paul Wellstone into a political revival meeting, with former President Bill Clinton on hand to lead the cheers. Which makes us wonder: Has Wellstone rolled over in his grave? Scott Lauf and George Primbs, of the group Citizens Lobby, can't help but recall the Wellstone Senate staff member who was so outraged by Clinton's myriad scandals - not to mention his selling the liberal cause down the river - that he repeatedly showed up to rally in support of impeaching the president. "There were at least three events where a Sen. Wellstone staffer showed up to help impeach Bill Clinton," Primbs says. "Even though Scott and (I) are conservatives, we welcomed the help wherever we could get it." One such anti-Clinton rally took place at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, within view of the White House. "At least the Wellstone people had a conscience," Primbs notes. HALLELUJAH "Absolutely shameless," reacts political observer Jon Moseley, of Arlington, Va., echoing dozens of readers - Democrats and Republicans alike - who tuned into Tuesday's funeral in Minneapolis for Sen. Paul Wellstone. "It was an obscenity." "This 'funeral' was so political it would make the Democratic National Convention every four years look nonpartisan," says Moseley. "Never have I seen such a disgusting display of exploitation. This was a pure campaign commercial for the Democratic Senate candidate, times 1,000. It was a campaign rally." FRITZ FRENZY With Clinton and Friends all around, The wrecked plane still on the ground, They ranted and raved, Daddy's not in the grave, They partied with the new candidate they found. -- Reader John L., Houston, Texas MUTUAL MALAISE So can Democrats reclaim Capitol Hill? After one man's survey of more than a dozen consultants from both major political parties, the best odds anyone would give of a Democratic takeover of the House next week is 1 in 5. "And that was by a Republican," says Gregory Fossedal, chief investment officer of the Democratic Century Fund in Washington and a former editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal. "Most guesses ranged from zero to one in 10." "They're all wrong," Fossedal writes in an op-ed piece for UPI. "The chance of an unexpected takeover of the House, or a gain of one or two seats in the Senate, by Democrats, is about one in three. The odds will move to 50-50 if Senator-elect Walter Mondale manages to articulate a reasonable Democratic economic agenda in the coming several days, during which he will have the national spotlight." Still, Fossedal observes, by their own private admission neither campaign deserves to win. "'We don't deserve to win,' a retiring GOP member of the House told me flatly three weeks ago. 'We don't, either,' a Democratic senator later conceded." Why? "The Democrats complained about Iraq but offered no real opposition," Fossedal says. "Neither party has an economic growth plan amidst the largest stock market decline in three generations. Republicans offer 'terrorism risk insurance,' and talk of another relatively small tax cut, the new one to be focused on investors. Democrats scoff at Bush's economics but have no real counter." There's much more, but we don't have the space. DONNA HOSTS DISSIDENT A former Clinton Cabinet member is pressing the case for democracy in Cuba. Donna E. Shalala, now president of the University of Miami, who served as secretary of health and human services during both of Bill Clinton's terms in the White House, has invited Cuban rights activist Oswaldo Paya Sardinas to receive an honorary doctorate at next spring's UM commencement. A letter from Shalala was presented to Paya Oct. 25 in Havana during a meeting of Todos Unidos, an umbrella group of Cuban opposition leaders who support Project Varela. The letter was delivered by James C. Cason, head of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana. "It is a privilege to recognize Oswaldo Paya's courage and significant contributions to human rights in Cuba and the world," says Shalala. "We will be honored by his presence at the ceremony." In recent months, Paya has received international recognition for his coordination of the Varela Project, a referendum initiative to bring about democratic change in Cuba. He has been named this year's winner of the Sakharov Prize, an award given annually by the European Union for human rights. VOTACION Hispanics immigrating in large numbers to the United States aren't in a big hurry to learn English, which seems to be OK with the major political parties who are desperately seeking their votes. Spanish-language campaign broadcast advertising continues to break records in 2002, with more than $9 million spent by gubernatorial, Senate and House candidates on nearly 14,000 Spanish-language TV spots, reveals Adam Segal, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University. An additional $2 million has been spent on advertising in down-ballot races and ballot initiatives. If that's not enough, Segal says, candidates nationwide are promising "accelerated spending on Spanish-language television and radio ads in the final days of the campaign." OBSERVING AMERICA A State Department official tells this column that a delegation from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was due to arrive in Washington this week. "They'll be doing meetings before going to Florida - yes, Florida - as suggested by Russian President (Vladimir) Putin the day after the 2000 fiasco began," the official reveals. "This will be an 'assessment' rather than formal election observation, but the point's the same: America is just like any other Third World country." The OSCE, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, employs 4,000 staff in 19 missions. They work "on the ground" to facilitate political processes, prevent or settle conflicts, and promote civil society and the rule of law. ALMIGHTY BUCKS "But we are all but out of funds." -- Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias, acknowledging just days before Tuesday's elections that "our candidates may not have the backing they need to pull this out."