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Capital Briefs: Oct. 30- Nov. 3

Out-Foxed:

The liberal media focused tremendous attention on actor Michael J. Fox last week when he appeared in ads touting liberal Democratic politicians who support using tax dollars to fund research that kills human embryos for their stem cells.

Fox cut spots for Rep. Ben Cardin (D.-Md.), who is running for the Senate against Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, and for Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D.), who is challenging GOP Sen. Jim Talent. In the McCaskill ad, Fox attacks Talent for opposing “expanding” stem-cell research, a reference to Talent’s opposition to Missouri Amendment 2, which would make clone-to-kill research a state constitutional right, while trying to deceive voters with language that claims it bans human cloning. Pro-life forces in Missouri trumped Fox with an ad featuring better celebrities. These included former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner (who now plays for the Phoenix Cardinals), “Everyone Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton, Kansas City Royals DH Mike Sweeney, actor Jim Caviezal and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan. Suppan, who was MVP of the National League Championship Series, explains in the ad: “Amendment 2 claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you don’t read, it makes cloning a constitutional right. Don’t be deceived.’’ Caviezal, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, starts the ad by saying, in Aramaic, words that Jesus spoke to Judas: “Le-bar nash be-neshak.” (“You betray me with a kiss.”)  The ad was scheduled to run during rained-out Game 4 of the World Series, which Suppan was scheduled to start.

After the Fall?:

No matter how the November 7 elections turn out, House Republicans are set to meet November 15 to choose leaders for the next Congress. If the GOP surprises and holds the majority, it currently appears, despite many complaints by members, the leaders would at least temporarily remain the same. If the Democrats take over, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) would not seek to become the minority leader. Current Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) is already maneuvering for that position. He could face opposition from the right. Russ Pulliam of the Indianapolis Star wrote a column last week pondering the possibility that 2005 Human Events Man of the Year Mike Pence (Ind.) could become minority leader. Pulliam quoted University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato, who said: “Mike Pence’s colleagues in the GOP caucus speak highly of him. He’s seen as a principled conservative who might help to restore some direction to a congressional party that has had a tough year.” Pulliam suggested, however, that Pence might be more interested in running for the Senate if Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.) were to take a cabinet position in a new Republican administration in 2009. Some on Capitol Hill speculate that Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.), who ran against Boehner for majority leader earlier this year, might challenge Boehner for the minority leader post. HUMAN EVENTS endorsed Shadegg when he ran against Boehner the first time.  

Land of McCain-Feingold:

When asked why President Bush makes campaign appearances for Republican candidates at private homes that are closed to the press rather than at large public venues, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “We’re living in the land of McCain-Feingold.”

HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi later asked Snow exactly what he meant by that reference to the campaign-finance law Bush signed. “I think what happens is, now when a President goes someplace, it’s got to be paid for, and it can’t be paid for out of party coffers because of restrictions on soft money,” Snow said. “So what has to happen is people have got to pony up cash to pay for the fairly heavy delivery costs of Air Force One and the entourage that goes with it. So it costs money, and people do have to pay. It sometimes suppresses turnout when you’ve got to pay a lot of money.” (Gizzi did not press Snow as to whether Bush regretted signing the measure that made campaigning more difficult for him.)

Rice Redefining Marriage?:

At a White House press briefing last week, radio host Lester Kinsolving asked Tony Snow about the unusual swearing-in ceremony for Mark Dybul, the State Department’s new global AIDS coordinator.

At the event, Dybul’s gay partner, Jason Claire, held the Bible as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice administered Dybul’s oath. Rice then welcomed Claire’s mother as Dybul’s “mother-in-law.” At the briefing, Kinsolving asked Snow: “How does this adhere to the President’s belief and policy that marriage is between one man and one woman?” Snow responded: “Well, the secretary said what she said, and she was showing due deference to the people involved.”

No Brainer:

In an interview with WDAY Radio of Fargo, N.D., Vice President Cheney seemed to confirm the U.S. used waterboarding on terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of 9/11.

Host Scott Hennen told Cheney his listeners asked him to “let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we’re all for it if it saves American lives. … Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?” “I do agree,” Cheney replied. “And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high-value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that’s been a very important tool that we’ve had to be able to secure the nation.” Cheney also said Mohammed had coughed up “enormously valuable information about how many [al Qaeda members] there are, about how they plan, what their training processes are and so forth. We’ve learned a lot. We need to be able to continue that.” “Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Hennen asked Cheney. “It’s a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President ‘for torture,’” Cheney said. “We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we’re party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.” Senate Intelligence Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R.-Kan.) told HUMAN EVENTS’ Amanda Carpenter that he believes the military-tribunals law enacted this fall forbids waterboarding.

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