Washington Prowler

Crazed by Rush

Lazy Democrats don't know the first thing about Armed Forces Radio. Also: Mitt's Mormon moment on hold. Plus: Setting a trap for Sununu.

By 10.5.07

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IGNORANT AS USUAL
Senate Democrats who've spent the week attacking Rush Limbaugh received much of their information about the controversy from David Brock's Media Matters as well as from MoveOn.org, which jumped on the attack-Rush bandwagon when it saw some potential for fundraising. That Democrats had not done their homework became clear on Wednesday, when Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid had his staff call over demanding that the Pentagon put liberal radio hosts on Armed Forces Radio. The problem: Armed Forces Radio already broadcasts extensive shows from National Public Radio, as well as the Ed Schulz radio show.

"They didn't believe us," says a Pentagon staffer based in the media affairs office.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was also unaware that Schulz and NPR were staples of the military's entertainment and information broadcasts. And Clark headed the NATO command.

Reid and other Democrats in the Senate are now planning to start trouble for Limbaugh and other conservative broadcasters at the Federal Communications Commission, where current chairman Kevin Martin has been looking for issues to hold hearings on that would assuage Democrats on Capitol Hill.

WAITING FOR INSPIRATION
Further to the report by Robert Novak about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's "Mormonism problem," which Romney's spokesman has been disputing, longtime campaign aides say that Romney in fact has had a speech addressing his faith and American values in the can for months, but never felt comfortable giving the speech.

"He didn't see the need, and neither have many of us," says a longtime campaign aide. "The speech was written months ago for him, but my thinking has always been that he wanted to do something from the heart, not written by a professional, as good as the speech may be."

SETTING A TRAP FOR SUNUNU
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed off on a legislative plan that he thinks will both lead to his party winning an additional seat in the Senate, and new tax revenue for his party to spend in the coming years.

With the clock literally ticking on the Internet Tax Moratorium's expiration, Republicans, led by Sens. John McCain, John Sununu, and Mitch McConnell, have been pressing for permanent extension of the moratorium that would bar states and localities from taxing peoples' use of the Internet.

"It would essentially make the Internet a toll road, with taxpayers paying as much five to six dollars extra a month on their bills just for the use of the Internet," says a GOP Senate leadership aide.

Last week Sununu had pulled together enough votes -- including two Democrats -- to push a permanent extension of the moratorium to a vote by the full Senate. But Senate Commerce Committee chairman, Sen. Daniel Inouye pulled consideration of the bill Sununu and others wanted amended.

Inouye has been supportive of a temporary extension, telling some advisers that he'd go as long as six years.

But many Republicans want the permanent extension, and Sununu is willing to fight, which is why Reid's eyes perhaps got a bit brighter earlier this week. "Reid thinks there is enough friction on this issue that there will be no consensus on the moratorium, it will expire, and Sununu can take the fall for no extension. He wants Sununu down and out going into 2008," says a Democrat leadership aide. "We're looking at building a filibuster proof majority of 60 for 2008. That's the goal and Sununu has to go."

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