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UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 29

  |   Jan. 29, 2003 at 2:45 PM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

State of the dis-union ...

President George W. Bush addressed Congress and the nation Tuesday, giving his second official State of the Union address. Partisan politics was very much in evidence almost from the outset. When the president stated that, "Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best, fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place," it brought the Republicans in the House and Senate to their feet in thunderous and, for a State of the Union address, sustained applause. Across the aisle however, nary a Democrat could be seen applauding let alone standing.

If this is an indication of the state of play on Capitol Hill, the president's domestic agenda is in for a long, cold winter.


Castle prepares to lay siege to leadership ...

U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., is staking out a position as the leader of the moderate wing of the House Republican Conference. Once dominant, the moderates have seen themselves pushed out of position after position as the Republicans have found political and electoral success by hewing further to the right. According to a report Tuesday by the Wilmington News-Journal's Erin Kelly, Castle is about to confront House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., and Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, with a demand that they "stop what (Castle) sees as an intimidation campaign aimed at silencing GOP moderates."

Though nominally a complaint about a $50,000 contribution late in the 2002 election cycle from a political action committee with ties to DeLay to the Club for Growth, an organization that bundles contributions to pro-growth Republicans and has contributed to conservatives challenging moderate-to-liberal GOP'ers in primaries, it is actually about much more. The GOP moderates, an increasingly smaller and less influential caucus, have, according to the News-Journal, growing concerns the leadership intends to run roughshod over them on controversial issues like abortion, the environment and tax cuts.

Castle is also, according to the paper, mad that moderate U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., was passed over for the chairmanship of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as punishment for defying the leadership on campaign finance reform, ultimately calling up a discharge petition to force the bill to the House floor for a vote.


A shift in foreign policy ...

Les Gelb, the venerable head of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, has indicated he will be stepping down from the post in June of 2003. Speculation is high that Richard Haass, currently the director of policy planning at the Department of State, is the likely successor.

The former national security correspondent for the New York Times, Gelb has been president of the CFR for the past 10 years.


Out ...

Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., who just won election to a sixth term in office, has announced that the 108th Congress will be his last as a member of the House. When he first ran in 1992 Smith, who had been a powerful state legislator before coming to Congress, promised he would serve no more than 12 years, and has told delegates at the Michigan Republican Convention that he would honor his pledge.

The field of potential successors is crowded so it is too soon to speculate on who might run for his seat, but there was immediate talk that Smith was considering a 2006 bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow.


If history teachers teach us anything ...

At a recent meeting of the of the American Historical Association, delegates from more than 40 colleges and universities agreed to form a new group, Historians Against the War, to aid what the group says is "the growing antiwar movement."

HAW says they have formed a speakers' bureau to help provide "accurate scholarly rebuttals to the mendacious historical distortions of the Bush administration, and reporting on the growing wave of campus activism." HAW says more than 1,000 historians in 47 states have signed the group's statement of principles since its January meeting. The list of signatories is available on the Internet at chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/haw.


Statue of limitations ...

Kansas is about to become the first state to replace an existing statue in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall. A larger-than-life bronze of former President Dwight David Eisenhower, who was raised in the cattle town of Abilene, is scheduled to soon replace a marble statue of former Gov. George Washington Glick as one of the state's two contributions to the hall.

Glick, one of the state's founding fathers, was governor from 1882 and 1885 after a long career in the state Legislature. His official National Statuary Hall entry states that, "After 15 years of civic service, Glick was forced to abandon his political career because of a throat infection that nearly destroyed his ability to speak," dying in April 1911.


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