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Flash Traffic

Flash Traffic | Political Buzz from Washington

Issue: "Jim Talent: Majority maker," Nov. 23, 2002

Most Democratic leaders disagree, but a new Gallup poll finds 6 in 10 Americans support invading Iraq with ground troops. Elections over, all eyes in Washington are now on Saddam Hussein, against whom even the Syrian delegation voted in the United Nations. By Dec. 8, Iraq must fully disclose all programs involving weapons of mass destruction. Top Bush advisers say the watch phrase is "zero tolerance." One wrong move and U.S. and allied forces are headed to Baghdad.

House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) becomes the highest-ranking woman in House history, but who is she? "Nancy Pelosi is an honest, attractive, smart advocate for her very liberal views," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told WORLD. "Think San Francisco liberalism and you have Pelosi's views. She is the victory of the McGovern-Mondale wing inside the House Democrats and marks the rise of the really left-wing Democrats to control of their party."

  • On Iraq: Rep. Pelosi leads the House anti-war movement. As minority whip, she rounded up 126 Democrats to vote against force to disarm Iraq, bucking Rep. Dick Gephardt, the outgoing minority leader. "As the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, I have seen no evidence or intelligence that suggests that Iraq indeed poses an imminent threat to our nation," she declared on Oct. 3, 2002.
  • On taxes and spending: A National Taxpayers Union analysis shows that if all the legislation Rep. Pelosi backed in 2002 passed, federal spending would have shot up by over $86 billion.
  • On abortion: Rep. Pelosi not only has a 100 percent rating from NARAL, she was the keynote speaker for the pro-abortion rally in Washington last January.
  • On gay rights: Rep. Pelosi supports legalizing gay marriage and federal needle exchanges to fight AIDS. Her House floor remarks on June 27 marking San Francisco's gay pride weekend are par for the course: "This is our time to celebrate San Francisco's proud history of advocacy for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons."

Are more tax cuts ahead? Post-election hopes are rising. But The Club for Growth's Steve Moore warns of trouble: "I anticipate big battles between House Republicans and Senate Republicans," Mr. Moore explained. "We could be facing a lot of frustration as the Senate guys try to slow down our agenda." Why? Pro-growth stalwarts are no longer there. "Yes, we held North Carolina. But Elizabeth Dole is no Jesse Helms. We held Tennessee. But Lamar Alexander isn't great on tax cuts. We held Texas, and John Cornyn will be a solid Bush vote. But I don't expect him to be a leader on tax and budget issues like Phil Gramm was."

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The House is different. "We probably now have a core of 25 to 30 really strong, anti-tax, Reagan Republicans setting the pace in the House," Mr. Moore said. His PAC can take some credit. It raised $8.5 million to bolster the anti-tax Republican ranks and won 17 of 19 races. Among them: incoming freshmen Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), Steve King (R-Iowa), and Chris Chocola (R-Ind.).

Unnoticed by most political analysts in the GOP's Election Day victory: Pro-lifers made big gains in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott now confidently predicts Congress will pass a ban on partial-birth abortion and send it to the president's desk in 2003.

Among the pro-life pickups in the Senate: Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). True, the defeat of Arkansas Sen. Tim Hutchinson will be setback on any Supreme Court nominee votes. But pro-life leaders believe they may earn the support of freshman Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor on many key votes, including partial birth.

The House will also be distinctly more pro-life next year, according to an analysis by Mike Schwartz of Concerned Women for America: "When you get rid of nominally pro-life people like Bob Ehrlich, Dave Bonior, Greg Ganske, and Joe Skeen and replace them with passionate pro-life [House] members like Trent Franks, Steve King, and Marilyn Musgrave, you are really making progress."

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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