Inside Politics

Article excerpt

Byline: Greg Pierce

ESCAPING CHASTISEMENT

"Outrage really is a matter for a sliding scale. Case in point: Mary Frances Berry, the pugnacious chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights," United Press International's Peter Roff writes.

"After spending months on point for Democrats seeking to delegitimize Bush's win in Florida and, by extension, the entire Bush presidency, Berry has recently been trumpeting her commission's controversial report on election procedures in the Sunshine State," Mr. Roff said.

"Speaking to the NAACP convention in New Orleans [the weekend before last], Berry revealed herself to be militantly anti-Republican as she shared her joy at the takeover by the Democrats of the United States Senate. Before the switch by Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, she told the assembled delegates, `I was just wondering when [Sen.] Strom Thurmond was gonna die.'

"The remark was received with laughter and applause, and Berry received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her talk.

"Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican, is 98. Such ghoulish oratory, had it come from a Republican appointee within the U.S. government, would have been met with widespread protest and demands for resignation. Instead, some applaud her remarks, others discuss them, a few condemn them while Berry escapes official chastisement."

GUERRILLA TACTICS

Sen. John McCain remains confident the House will vote this year on campaign finance reform, even though reform supporters killed the bill on a technicality last week rather than risk defeat.

"We've got to cool this thing down," Mr. McCain, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We've got to sit down and move forward."

Mr. McCain, who already has succeeded in pushing the legislation through the Senate, said there were a number of options that proponents of the legislation were considering to resurrect the measure to ban unregulated "soft money" donations to national political parties.

The Arizona Republican said he has talked with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who "was agreeable" to attaching a campaign finance proposal to any Senate bill that has to be passed by the House.

Mr. McCain said conservative House Democrats also are prepared to push for a so-called discharge petition, which could force a vote if 218 members sign it.

"We'll get a vote sooner or later, as I've always said," Mr. McCain said, restating that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert "did promise us a fair vote on this" and that "hasn't happened yet."

Mr. McCain said he believed that Mr. Hastert "would do the right thing."

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and co-sponsor of the campaign finance bill in the House, told CNN's "Late Edition" that "we simply will have a vote on this bill," otherwise he would resort to guerrilla tactics.

Mr. Shays said if the House Republican leadership does not reschedule a vote, Republican campaign finance proponents would use House procedures to tie up other bills.

A WASTED PERFORMANCE

"Maybe it was the brisk sea air or the beer at Kennebunkport's Federal Jack's pub. Whatever it was, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer went wild on the karaoke machine during President Bush's recent visit to the family retreat," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Fleischer sang the old hip-hop song `Bust a Move,' from Young MC. `He was unbelievably good, but who could remember? We were all drunk,' says a reporter."

TABOO SUBJECT

"Remember all the news reports a few weeks ago about President Bush's perilous drop in the polls? The media treated the June numbers, which had Bush's approval rating in the low to mid-50s, with a grave seriousness usually reserved for obituaries. Never before had reporters seemed so concerned about the plight of a Republican," John J. …