WASHINGTON -- Sen. Trent Lott looked like a supporter of Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions when the former New York mayor visited Lott's home state of Mississippi recently. But in private, he warned Giuliani about roadblocks in his presidential path.
Lott, who likes and admires Giuliani, told him that the New Yorker's support for abortion, homosexual rights and gay marriage are heavy burdens for a Republican to carry nationally. Giuliani protested that he never supported same-sex marriage, only civil unions. Lott then advised that in Mississippi, they don't see any difference between gay marriage and civil unions.
A footnote: National Republican leaders would like to see Giuliani challenge Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton for re-election next year, but that does not seem to be on his agenda.
CHENEY AND THE RIGHT
The chilly relationship of the Bush administration with congressional conservatives warmed last Tuesday evening when Dick Cheney entertained the Republican Study Committee (RSC) at the vice president's official residence.
Cheney's last contact with the conservative RSC was his meeting in 2001 with Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, then the committee's chairman. With the vice president seeking to reach out to the restive right, the current RSC chairman -- Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana -- suggested the reception. About 30 members attended the event, which lasted two hours.
"Back in the days when I had some power, I was a conservative Republican member of Congress," Cheney told his guests. In one-on-one sessions with the vice president, the RSC members expressed concern over rising government spending and underlined their opposition to a tax increase as part of Social Security reform.
Howard Dean, who has minimized media exposure since his election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, departed from the party line in telling a college audience that there are problems with the Social Security program.
Speaking at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., on Feb. 23, Dean totally opposed President Bush's advocacy of personal accounts as part of Social Security. However, he did not follow Democratic insistence that nothing need be done about the program. If Social Security is left alone, he said, benefits after 30 years would be 80 percent of what they are now.
Dean's divergence from the party line was reported only in the Cornell Daily Sun, the student newspaper.
CONGRESS PROBES U.N.
As part of increasing congressional scrutiny of the United Nations, Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and his staff are investigating reports that the territory of Western Sahara (which is under Moroccan occupation) is not receiving tens of millions of promised dollars.
Inhofe is looking for a possible pattern of the UN not living up to promised cash outlays for underdeveloped countries in need. In addition to the Western Sahara investigation, he also is looking into similar reports about Uganda.
As part of his inquiry, Inhofe has asked for the UN budget. The UN liaison told the senator he was the first legislator ever to make such a request.
Sen. John Kerry is sponsoring a resolution honoring black activist W.E.B. Du Bois, who officially joined the Communist Party late in life after faithful support of the Soviet line in world affairs.
Du Bois praised Soviet dictator and mass murderer Joseph Stalin as "great" and "courageous" and defended Communist North Korea for its 1950 invasion of South Korea. Du Bois was a founder of the NAACP, but was later expelled from the civil rights organization for opposing racial integration. A winner of the Lenin Peace Prize, Du Bois ended his life as an exile in Ghana (where he died in 1963 at age 95).
Kerry's resolution lauds Du Bois, a longtime socialist, for having "played an intricate role in the development of the entrepreneurial spirit, capitalism, and economic independence in the African-American community." The resolution is also sponsored by Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Carl Levin, as well as 36 Democratic House members and one Republican, Rep. Dave Hobson of Ohio.