Byline: Gilbert Crandall, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, discouraged a handful of her members from attending a bipartisan Social Security meeting with Republicans and AARP representatives yesterday. Only two of the five invited Democrats showed up at the meeting.
"We just said we'd prefer you not go," Mrs. Pelosi said, adding that "one thing we have to have on Social Security is a united front" against private accounts Republicans want to create.
"Nancy Pelosi doesn't want a bipartisan solution to Social Security. She wants an issue for Democrat leaders to demagogue and play politics with," said Carl Forti, National Republican Congressional Committee communications director.
In the end, two Democrats - Ed Case of Hawaii and Jim Cooper of Tennessee - attended the meeting, organized by Rep. K. Michael Conaway, Texas Republican. Three others did not show - Reps. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Mike Thompson of California.
"There were some in my party who probably would have preferred I wasn't here, but I think talking is worthwhile," Mr. Case said after the meeting, adding that he still agrees with AARP that the private accounts aren't the way to go.
Mr. Jefferson's office said he had never accepted the invitation, and Mr. Peterson's office didn't return a call. Mr. Thompson issued a letter saying he backed out because, although he is open to working with Republicans, he has "no interest in participating in sham meetings hyped as opportunities to promote bipartisanship but twisted, by some, into opportunities to promote themselves."
Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, one of six Republicans who attended the meeting, remarked: "At some point you have to decide whether you're going to represent Ms. Pelosi and she's going to own your soul, or whether you're going to represent your constituents."
"Harper's Magazine's May cover stories about 'The Christian Right's War On America' frightened me, although not the way Harper's meant them to," Stanley Kurtz writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"I fear these stories could mark the beginning of a systematic campaign of hatred directed at traditional Christians. Whether this is what Harper's intends, I cannot say. But regardless of the intention, the effect seems clear," Mr. Kurtz said.
"The phrase 'campaign of hatred' is a strong one, and I worry about amplifying an already dangerous dynamic of recrimination on both sides of the culture wars. I don't doubt that conservatives, Christian and otherwise, are sometimes guilty of rhetorical excess. Yet despite what we've been told, the most extreme political rhetoric of our day is being directed against traditional Christians by the left.
"It's been said that James Dobson overstepped legitimate bounds when he compared activist judges to the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, that was an ill-considered remark. I hope and expect it will not be repeated. But Dobson made that comparison extemporaneously and in passing. If that misstep was such a problem, what are we to make of a cover story in Harper's that systematically identifies conservative Christianity with fascism? According to Harper's, conservative Christians are making 'war on America.' Can you imagine the reaction to a cover story about a 'war on America' by blacks, gays, Hispanics, or Jews? Then there's Frank Rich's April 24 New York Times op-ed comparing conservative Christians to George Wallace, segregationists, and lynch mobs.
"These comparisons are both inflammatory and mistaken. …