GET A MOVE ON
Democrats continue to look for ways to leverage their control of Congress for campaign gains. According to committee staffers on the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus is looking to hold hearings late in June on U.S. corporate competitiveness in the global economy. But some members of that committee want to turn them into a rally against U.S. multinational companies. "Baucus has the right idea. He understands some of the economic and tax issues our global companies have to deal with," says a Republican staffer on the committee. "But he's got some colleagues who just don't get it."
Democrat staffers with ties to the offices of Sens. John Kerry and Ron Wyden, say that both men want to turn Baucus's well-intentioned effort around, including panels on U.S. multinationals' abuse of the environment, human rights, outsourcing of jobs, among other ills. "It's one panel of speakers on how U.S. tax and regulatory policies are hindering American competitiveness and two panels on the evil of the American corporation," says a Democrat staffer on the committee.
Increasingly, Democrats in both the House and Senate aren't satisfied with holding impromptu press conferences in the hallways of the Capitol or using allotted time when the House and Senate are in session to gain political points for their supporters. Instead, they are attempting to use the more impressive venues of House and Senate hearings to create political theater that will satisfy the far-left wing of the party.
"They see guys like [Henry] Waxman and [John] Conyers in the House getting all that attention in their hearings, and they want some of the love," says another Democrat staffer. "It's poisoning the hearing process and isn't helpful on any level. It probably won't end until after the election."
THE OBAMA ONE-TWO
Revs. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger were not the only preachers from the pulpit at Trinity United Church during Sen. Barack Obama's 20-year membership in the church, according to Democrat National Committee staffers, and the DNC is attempting to determine whether or not there is video of such speakers while Obama or his family are in attendance. They have asked the Obama campaign to assist them in doing the research leading into the general election cycle, where they assume Republicans are attempting to gather similar information.
"The concern," says a Democrat political consultant with ties to Sen. Hillary Clinton, "and it's a legitimate concern that we have not been able to voice, is that the remarks we've heard from Wright and now Father Pfleger were commonplace in that Church. This is what they said and what they believed. This is what members of the church tithed to hear. So there are two options, neither of them appealing to Senator Obama."
The first, says the consultant, is that at some point Obama will simply have to admit that his participation in the church was not as he made it appear, that he used the church to further enhance his standing in a community where he needed their support, and made appearances at Trinity services infrequently at best. "Or he and his family were there hooting and hollering to all of the nonsense we've seen from Wright and Pfleger," says the consultant. "Either way, this Trinity issue is not going away, it most clearly illustrates the two traits the campaign has been trying to embed with little success: either Obama is anti-white, radical with views far outside the mainstream of most Americans, or he's just a big phony with no experience to lead the country."
Pfleger probably will not go away, either. In Chicago political and religious circles he is considered by some to be more radical and political than Wright. The pastor of a church that is largely African-American, he has been censured by his bishop, Francis Cardinal George, for comments many interpreted as threatening the life of a gun-shop owner during an anti-gun-rights rally.
And last week, after the Trinity video hit the Internet, the diocese released a statement from George saying, "Fr. Pfleger's remarks about Senator Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply. To avoid months of turmoil in the church, Fr. Pfleger has promised me that he will not enter into campaigning, will not publicly mention any candidate by name and will abide by the discipline common to all Catholic priests."
Pfleger was considered so radical by some of his bosses in Chicago that they expected him to split from the church and sign on with the now disgraced Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation, the sect founded in 1989 by a soon-to-be excommunicated African-American Catholic priest in Washington, D.C., George Stallings. Coincidentally, Stallings announced the founding of the church on The Phil Donohue Show, which was then taped in Chicago.