Capital Briefs: April 16-20

Newt Goes Green: In a heavily hyped debate — one that environmentalist Democrats hoped would be a “smack down” of Republicans — former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) disappointed them and conservatives alike when he declared that human activity was causing the Earth to warm. The concession — which could be harmful to any Gingrich plans to seek the GOP presidential nomination — was made in an April 10 debate on global warming with Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) on Capitol Hill. In his first portion of allotted time, Gingrich said there were two undisputed areas of scientific consensus on global warming: that the earth is getting hotter and the warming had been caused by human activity. At one point, Kerry asked Gingrich what he would say to conservatives like Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.) who do not believe global warming is caused by human activity. Gingrich said: “The evidence is sufficient that we should move to the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon emissions.” Gingrich also endorsed the book Kerry co-authored with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, This Moment on Earth. “This is excellent, this is a very good book,” he said. “I would commend this book to anyone who wants to see local leadership make a difference.”

Although Gingrich’s concession was upsetting to many conservatives, it was no surprise to those aware of his past weakness on some environmental issues and of his plan to release this November a new book, Contract with the Earth, that he co-wrote with conservationist Terry Maples. Gingrich has said since last year that he would make a decision to run or not sometime in the fall of this year. Lately, however, Gingrich has been telling friends he doesn’t think any Republican can win in ’08 and so might put off running until 2012.

Social Conservatives Say ‘Run, Fred, Run’: On the same day last week that former Sen. Fred Thompson described his bout with lymphoma, three leading social conservatives were urging the former Tennessee senator to run for the Republican nomination for President in ’08. At a reporters’ breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families, and Mark Earley of the Prison Fellowship agreed that Thompson should enter the race and would, in Earley’s words, “be very attractive” as a candidate. Perkins and Bauer said that Thompson’s 1994 description of himself as pro-choice on abortion aside, he had a solidly pro-life record in the Senate and praised the actor-television star for publicly rethinking his support of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill.

Kerry’s Constitution: Still smarting from his 2004 loss, delivered with the help of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their book Unfit for Command (published by Human Events sister company Regnery), Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) accused the White House of “changing the rules” when the President recess-appointed Sam Fox, a contributor to the Swift Boat Veterans’ 527 organization, to the post of ambassador to Belgium during the congressional recess, avoiding the need for Senate confirmation.

As the Associated Press reported, “the appointment came a week after the White House withdrew the nomination when it became apparent that the Democratic-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee would not vote to approve Fox, a Republican fund-raiser. Democrats had complained about a $50,000 donation Fox made to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that questioned Sen. John Kerry’s war record during the Massachusetts Democrat’s 2004 presidential campaign.” Kerry soon complained that “it’s sad but not surprising that this White House would abuse the power of the presidency to reward a donor over the objections of the Senate. Unfortunately, when this White House can’t win the game, they just change the rules, and America loses.”

It’s an odd claim, considering Article II, Sec. 2, of the Constitution specifically permits the President to make such appointments.

Democrats apparently believe that free speech in the form of donations to 527 groups they don’t like such as the Swift Boat Veterans should disqualify someone from serving in a federal position — despite the fact that 527 political organizations were started by Democrats. The New York Times, still unable to accept Kerry’s defeat, fulminated in  an editorial that “Mr. Fox contributed $50,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group whose vicious ads during the 2004 campaign lied about Sen. John Kerry’s war record and helped win President Bush a second term.”

Moral Obligation: On April 11, former POW and Vietnam war veteran Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) gave a moving speech about what he says is the moral obligation to stabilize and succeed in Iraq. He said, “A power vacuum in Iraq would invite further interference from Iran at a time when Tehran already feels emboldened enough to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel and America, and kidnap British sailors.” McCain also criticized the Democrats who he said “deny our soldiers the means to prevent an American defeat. They have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election. The judgment of history should be the approval we seek, not the temporary favor of the latest public opinion poll.”

Rudy’s Abortion Contortion: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani firmly established himself as the pro-choice GOP candidate for the 2008 election when he told CNN that he considered publicly funded abortion to be a constitutional right. In an on-air interview, reporter Dana Bash asked Giuliani, “Do you support taxpayer money or public funding for abortions in some cases?” Rudy told her, “If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes, if that’s the status of the law, then I would, yes.” Giuliani did say that if elected President he would not repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment that forbids federal funding for abortion. Giuliani in the past has promised that as President he would name “strict constructionist” judges to the Supreme Court, but now that he has made clear he believes abortion is a constitutional right, many pro-life conservatives will have a hard time believing Giuliani would nominate more judges like Sam Alito and John Roberts.

Clintonista Reconquista: Hillary Clinton once said that she was “adamantly against illegal aliens” in a 2003 interview with WABC Radio, but has now given a high-profile illegal alien advocate a prime place in her presidential campaign. Raul Yzaguirre, who was president of the National Council of La Raza, has signed on as co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. La Raza, which means “the race” in Spanish, is the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy organization. It has opposed the REAL ID Act, which would have prevented states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and the CLEAR Act, which would grant state and local law enforcement agencies that wish to do so, the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. In a much-quoted 2006 article for Human Events, Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) explained that “behind the respectable front of the National Council of La Raza lies the real agenda of the La Raza movement that led to those thousands of illegal immigrants in the streets of American cities, waving Mexican flags, brazenly defying our laws, and demanding concessions.”