Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Rolling the dice," Aug. 4, 2001

The battle for Missouri is heating up. Former Congressman Jim Talent is privately telling Republicans that he will take on Sen. Jean Carnahan, the media-celebrated widow of Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash with son Randy in October 2000. Carnahan recently told sympathetic CBS Early Show interviewer Jane Clayson that she wasn't sure she was running, but she's certainly walking hard, piling up a campaign war chest of nearly $1.8 million. Talent, who left a comfortable House seat in the St. Louis suburbs after four terms to run for Governor in 2000, lost by 21,000 votes to Democrat Bob Holden in the emotional Carnahan tide. Talent was touted as a potential Secretary of Labor before the job went to Elaine Chao, but GOP strategists hoped he'd stay in Missouri and recapture the seat of John Ashcroft. The White House is still dragging out the search for a boss for the National Endowment for the Arts, but time is running out. Current chairman Bill Ivey steps down in September. The American Arts Alliance is suggesting someone with a business background, since its goal of increasing NEA funding requires "mollifying Congress." The American Conservative Union organized a letter to the president from 29 groups opposing liberal Republican New York State Sen. Roy Goodman, whose name floated out early. ACU leader Christian Josi, a New Yorker, couldn't abide Goodman criticizing Mayor Rudy Giuliani for cutting off city funds for the Brooklyn Museum when it sponsored an exhibit that included a picture of the Virgin Mary surrounded by elephant dung and porn cutouts. With Goodman out of the running, conservatives favor Al Felzenberg, an NEA deputy director under the first President Bush, but he's waiting for a face-to-face interview. NEA critic Larry Jarvik throws a new name into the mix: Tony Chaveaux, chairman of Gov. Bush's Arts Commission in Texas. Culture wars can be condom wars. Promoters of permissiveness have long suggested that condoms prevent not only the spread of HIV, but other sexually transmitted diseases. A new HHS report should make them say "oops," if not "I'm sorry." The report, requested last year by then-Congressman (and physician) Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), found no clinical proof that condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, chlamydia, which can lead to female infertility, and HPV (human papilloma virus), which can lead to cervical cancer in women. A rare bird who actually lived up to his promise to quit after three terms, Dr. Coburn is demanding that the FDA require accurate labeling for condoms that reflects the current state of science. Planned Parenthood's medical affairs spokesman, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, claimed research was "inconclusive" and asked for more research. Dr. Coburn wonders why, then, the group's website claims condoms "offer good protection" against the diseases. Planned Parenthood isn't just touting condoms in ideological battles against "anti-sex extremists," but also for commercial reasons. Their website now promotes its own brand of condoms. Clinton-appointed federal judge Gladys Kessler is being toasted in labor and Democratic Party salons around town. She ruled in favor of an injunction preventing the Federal Election Commission from releasing thousands of documents on the connections between the Democrats and the AFL-CIO during the 1996 election. The FEC, which crippled the Christian Coalition through years of investigation, found no illegal union-DNC collaboration, but liberal "campaign reform" backers didn't want these papers to see the light of day. Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood requested 55,000 documents to see if unions were improperly using dues for political causes without notifying members. Despite their lack of sanctions, FEC investigators were stunned by the degree of veto power that unions exercised over national and state Democratic officials. Is Mark Warner going Hollywood in his race to be Governor of Virginia? Not exactly. The Democratic nominee is airing radio ads aimed at black voters starring black actor/director Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati and Sister, Sister) and his actress wife Daphne Maxwell Reid (Fresh Prince of Bel Air). The Reids don't live in California, but in Petersburg, Virginia. They tout their TV credits in the ad, but don't tell voters that the state government (along with the city of Petersburg) has given $560,000 to their New Millennium movie studio, which they claim has pumped $40 million into the state economy.

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