Capital Briefs: Nov. 6-10

Colmes’ Casualty:

There was one conspicuous casualty last week when Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox News’s “Hannity & Colmes,” opened his mouth to defend John Kerry’s so-called “botched joke” about the U.S. military. That casualty was the truth.

The segment began with an audio-clip of Kerry’s odious claim before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 that U.S. forces in Vietnam had routinely committed war crimes. Colmes tried to spin this slander of our troops by claiming that Kerry’s testimony was not aimed at attacking the soldiers in the field, but the Nixon Administration in Washington, D.C. “If you go back to that 1971 tape,” said Colmes, “…he was clearly talking about the administration. He was talking about the Nixon Administration. He was not talking about the soldiers.” A review of the transcript, however, demonstrates that this is a shamelessly implausible interpretation of Kerry’s lies. “[W]e had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in South East Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command,” Kerry said. “They told stories of times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.” Kerry’s accusations against our troops in Vietnam, of course, were no more credible than Colmes’s fatuous assertion that they were aimed at Nixon.

Blame Big Government:

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R.-Tex.) delivered a pre-mortem on the midterm elections in last Sunday’s Washington Post. “The likely Republican losses in next week’s elections will not constitute a repudiation of the conservative legacy that drove the Reagan presidency and created the Contract With America,” said Armey. “To the contrary, it would represent a rejection of big government conservatism.”

Leadership Elections:

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio), in an interview with Editor Rob Bluey of, said he’s open to delaying the House leadership elections now scheduled for November 15—just a week after Election Day.

“Well, the speaker and I have discussed this, and it’s certainly going to be up for consideration,” Boehner said. “I just think that members ought to have a fair shot at choosing their leaders. And depending how Tuesday, November 7, works out, I am convinced there will be a conversation about whether those elections ought to be delayed.” In the cover editorial in the October 9 issue, HUMAN EVENTS called for new leadership in the House.

Minority Leader?:

Calls for delaying the leadership elections are likely to intensify if Republicans lose control of the chamber by a significant margin.

If Republicans narrowly hold the House, Republican congressional sources told HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi last week, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) will be re-elected speaker. If, however, Republicans lose the majority by a few seats, Hastert will have to move aside. Under those circumstances, one Republican member told Gizzi, “Boehner would probably become minority leader. He’s not really part of the ‘old school’ of leadership. He was part of the ‘Gang of Seven’ [the reform-minded GOP lawmakers who exposed abuses in the House Bank in 1991 that led to its closing], and he was a good spokesman for us in the elections this year. It’s hard not to like John.” But if Republicans lose a net of 20 or more seats, everything’s in play. In that case, the GOP sources say, Boehner would almost surely be challenged by a more activist conservative. Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, who placed third behind Boehner and Roy Blunt (Mo.) in the race for majority leader earlier this year, is one possible challenger. Another is Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. Both Pence and Shadegg have served as chairmen of the conservative House Republican Study Committee and are well thought of by the younger back-bench conservatives in the House.

‘Gruesome and Inhumane’:

The Supreme Court this week will hear the cases of Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, both of which seek to overturn the federal ban on partial-birth abortion.

Plaintiffs claim the ban is unconstitutional because it does not allow exceptions for the life or “health” of the mother. Rep. Steve Chabot (R.-Ohio), who co-sponsored the ban, told HUMAN EVENTS last week why this argument is specious. “Medical testimony indicates that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary, and rather than being something that would be helpful to a woman’s health, it actually puts a woman at great risk,” he said. “There have been many injuries, and even deaths related to this particular type of abortion.” He added: “We’re all praying that this time the Supreme Court will uphold the ban on partial-birth abortion because this particular type of abortion is particularly gruesome and inhumane and barbaric and a lot of us really believe that it should not be permitted in a society that likes to call itself civilized.”

Takes One to Know One:

Vice President Dick Cheney recently explained to CBNC’s Larry Kudlow why taxes are certain to go up if Democrats win the House and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D.-N.Y.) becomes chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “If a man like Charlie Rangel were to be chairman of the committee, and sitting there with the gavel, all he has to do is not act, just don’t call up the legislation, and there’ll be a big tax increase,” said Cheney. Rangel responded by demonstrating that a Democratic victory will also bring a big increase in bombastic hyper-partisan rhetoric to the national debate. “He’s such a real son of a b—-,” Rangel said of Cheney.

He Would Know:

The man whose presidential ambitions imploded with an impromptu scream in 2004, spoke from experience last week when asked about John Kerry’s infamous “botched joke.” “Bloopers happen,” said Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean.