There is currently a huge overturn-Roe v. Wade march outside my office on Capitol Hill, culminating at the Supreme Court. What's shocking is not the to-be-expected thousands of demonstrators marking the 33rd anniversary of Roe, nor the predictable signs: "Protect Life," "Abortion is Homicide," "Born and Reborn," yada yada yada. What's shocking is the number of young people in attendance, the new blood of the culture war--college students, teenagers, pre-teens, even six-year-olds holding signs with pictures of aborted fetuses. As a friend who teaches Sunday school to eighth graders said, "To them, this is a field trip." (For background, see our colleague Eyal Press's brilliant dispatch in the New York Times Magazine this week, "My Father's Abortion War.")
Four months out from the gubernatorial primary, California Democrats remain divided over who will be anointed to challenge Arnold Scwarzenegger's re-election. It's the State Treasurer versus the State Controller in the fight for the Democratic nomination.
The support of the party establishment has already been rounded up by Treasurer Phil Angelides, a wealthy San Francisco liberal. More than three dozen unions, 200 elected officials and a gaggle of party insiders have already endorsed Angelides. But his most prominent rival, state Controller and Silicon Valley businessman Steve Westly has vowed to spend as much as $20 million to take the nomination for himself.
While Angelides was among the most prominent Democrats to oppose and criticize Schwarzenegger from the outset, Westly was –until recently--more reserved in his opposition. Westly has been trying to fashion an appeal to the center. Angelides has been trying to capitalize on his more liberal Bay Area base. But as The Los Angeles Times has reported, the real political differences between the two are not substantial:
"I'll be back!" might be more than a toss-away movie line from Arnold Schwarzenegger. After his crushing defeat in the special election he called three months ago (all of his ballot measures going down in flames), the Governator has been zealously re-casting himself.
His eyes set on re-election next November in this very blue state of California, Arnold has quickly moved back to the center. Dropping his slash-and-burn economic austerity proposals of last year, the New Arnold has come up with an FDR-like $200 billion plus blueprint for rebuildinng the state infrastructure.
He's also playing a bizarre game of political pattycake with the very same unions that he attempted and failed to demonize throughout the course of 2005 (in this effort he's being assisted by a legendary Democrat: the former California Assembly Speaker and past Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown. Veteran L.A.-based political analyst Joe Scott does his own sift of California's shifting political sands and concludes that only a fool would rule out a successful comeback by Schwarzenegger.
Best response to the Abramoff Scandal? That's easy.
As just about everyone else in Congress is rushing to dispose of campaign contributions received from GOP super-lobbyist and convicted criminal Jack Abramoff, California Congressman John Doolittle says he's keeping his Abramoff-linked money. Doolittle, a Republican whose various campaign committees collected close $50,000 from Abramoff and the disgraced lobbyist's associates and clients, has been identified as a top target of the Justice Department investigation of Congressional corruption.
But, his office says, it wouldn't look right for the congressman to rid his campaign of Abramoff's dirty dollars. "Congressman Doolittle refuses to give even the slightest appearance of something wrong by returning money that was accepted legally and ethically," says Doolitte aide Laura Blackann. Keeping the money, explains Blackann, "is a matter of principle to the congressman." Suggested slogan for the congressman's reelection campaign: Doolittle's Got the Courage to be Corrupt.