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Governing made easy
by Tom Teepen
Cox News Service
May 4, 2003

Rim shots on a field drum:

-- Republican right-wingers figure they may have lost the battle but won the war. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a moderate, eked out renomination by less than a percentage point against Rep. Pat Toomey, who had been supported by arch-conservative activists.

The fact that a four-term incumbent running with the energetic endorsement of his party's president and of his conservative fellow senator barely escaped with his political life will serve the interest of the party's right almost as well as a victory would have.

The close call will force some GOP moderates to the right and scare others off altogether. The crusade by groups like the anti-tax Club for Growth to purge the party of moderates is steadily gaining. A party that once represented centrist and conservative views is becoming the creature of hardline ideologues.

-- The Bush administration has the worst environmental record of any modern presidency but it has nonetheless pulled off an awesome environmental coup. No, really. It has saved the Pacific salmon. It has done this by the simple expedient of deciding to count hatchery-raised salmon as wild salmon.

Presto. End of problem.

Who knew that saving endangered species could be so easy?

-- How weird is the Patriot Act? This weird:

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the FBI's method of obtaining some business records but the filing had to remain secret for weeks under the Patriot Act's needless paranoia. The ACLU was finally allowed to release limited information -- a redacted version of the lawsuit -- only after negotiations with the Justice Department.

We've fallen into a legal mirror maze when a law can suppress and censor a constitutional challenge to itself.

-- The United States has finked out on its 30-year tradition of support for the Global Health Council. The Department of Health and Human Services has withdrawn U.S. funding for the group's June conference.

The conference is to deal with such issues as nutrition, disaster assistance and SARS, but it also will hear speakers from the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The usual suspects objected -- the Traditional Values Coalition, American Life League, Focus on the Family and so on.

Remember back when the flower children thought they could levitate the Pentagon? That flopped, but the religious right can make the White House jump.

-- The National Council for Research of Women, representing a coalition of women's groups, has found that some 25 reports on women's issues have been removed from the federal Women's Bureau Web site.

Gone are statistical reports on wage differences between men and women, fact sheets, examinations of racial and socio-economic disparities and guides to women's workplace rights.

An administration that can save the salmon just by redefining them can solve women's problems just by hitting the delete button. Governing doesn't always have to be hard work.

Tom Teepen is a columnist for Cox Newspapers. He is based in Atlanta.

Posted: May 12, 2004


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