UPI's Capital Comment for May 6, 2002

By United Press International  |  May 6, 2002 at 3:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 6 (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.

Putting family first -- Republican Trent Matson, considered the party's best hope to recapture Washington state's 3rd congressional district in the fall, has dropped out of the race. On Thursday, and without much advance notice, he withdrew, citing the obligations of fatherhood. With his wife Laura and their infant son Reagan at his side, he told supporters gathered on the steps of the state capital that "We are convinced this campaign is on the threshold of success."

"It is very difficult to step aside from the overwhelming support we are receiving ... However, as I hold my new son in my arms at the beginning and end of every day, I have to be able to look into his eyes with a clear conscience, knowing I have done everything to the best of my ability as a father for him to become a decent, honest and caring human being." Acknowledging that some people will assume there is a deeper and more interesting motivation behind the move, Matson said, "What you see with me is what you get ... The truth is, I've got a little one here and there's nothing deeper than that."

Low ball -- In Friday's Capital Comment, we incorrectly identified the number of members of in the National Rifle Association. The membership is actually 4.2 million, not 3 million.

Trading down? It depends on your view --- Rep. James Barcia, D-Mich., a moderate Democrat who was placed into the same district with liberal Democrat Rep. Dale Kildee as a result of the state's redistricting process, has announced his retirement from Congress. The five-term Democrat will run for a seat in the state senate instead -- and then probably try again for the seat when the 72-year-old Kildee, who is in his 13th term, retires.

Counting Catholics? -- Author William McGowan, a fellow of the Manhattan Institute think tank, wants Newsweek to identify how many Catholics and how many openly gay reporters participated in the research and writing of its recent cover story, "Beyond the Priest Scandal: Christianity at a Crossroads."

McGowan, who once reported for Newsweek International says, "While the piece poses as serious analysis, in fact it is a very long editorial, proposing a plan for reform that would turn the traditional Catholic Church into something akin to a liberal Protestant sect." He argues that "newsroom diversity," a cause that many organizations of media professionals have embraced, is designed to "allow those with first-hand experience in ethnic or cultural communities the opportunity to bring that experience to news reporting" and he wants the list to see if diversity was properly applied in this case. Ken Weine, a spokesman for Newsweek, told Capital Comment "We simply do not provide that information."

Staying put -- Nancy Pfotenhauer, the president of the Independent Women's Forum is, contrary to a rumor making the rounds in Washington, staying put in her current job. The economist and former White House staffer tells Capital Comment that she has been asked to serve on a number of commissions -- and that an announcement of her appointment to the Secretary of Energy's advisory board is in the works -- but that life outside of government is much more fulfilling then life inside it.

Lend a helping hand -- The Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee must be in a charitable mood. On Friday, reporters covering politics and homeland security were faxed a May 2 article from the Cox News Service about the reaction to efforts by Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., to play down fears about the vulnerability of U.S. nuclear facilities. Chambliss, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate, discussed the topic on CNN's Crossfire earlier in the week, sparking the discussion.

The fax from David Sirota, the Democrats' press secretary says, "FYI -- these remarks on national television by the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism (Chambliss) come right as we are at the end of our negotiations to add the nuclear security money the administration's own Energy Secretary requested. As you may know, we are fighting to add, among other things, $54 million that the department specifically requested for the Savannah River (Ga.) Site." Isn't it nice to see bipartisanship in action?

From the X-files of the X-PPAC -- The Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee has sent a "congressional alert" all over Capitol Hill, altering members of congress to the existence of a new book, "The Missing Times," by Terry Hansen. X-PPAC says the book exposes how an "information gap" has been used to undermine "free and independent journalism" since 1947.

"It is essential that Congress assert its oversight powers and repair the dysfunctional relationship between top-tier American media and the intelligence community" and that X-PPAC "stands ready to assist members of Congress in working toward a disclosure event ending the government imposed truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence."

Hughes news -- The rumor that White House adviser Karen Hughes would be playing a role in the statewide GOP campaigns upon her return to Texas, which Capital Comment passed along, has been shot down. A knowledgeable source inside Texas GOP circles says that Hughes is expected to play no role in the campaigns of Gov. Rick Perry or Attorney General John Cornyn, running for U.S. Senate. It is far more likely, some suggest, that she will provide informal advice to the president from her new home base -- advice that may be of even greater value to the president once Hughes is outside the White House-Washington bubble and back in real America.

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