And now the most engaging two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine.
There are signs that the Republicans now think they can do to Senate Majority Leader Daschle what the Democrats did to Newt Gingrich, that is: make him a political liability and then tie Democratic candidates to him. Roll Call reports for example that GOP Congressman Lindsey Graham, running for the Senate in South Carolina, is saying of his Democratic opponent, Alex Sanders, "It's Bush-Graham versus Daschle-Sanders." Out in Daschle's home state of South Dakota, meanwhile, the Republican legislature has passed by 60 to 8, a measure calling on the U.S. Senate to leave the Bush tax cuts in place. Daschle has claimed the tax cuts are worsening the recession. The legislature's vote puts pressure on Daschle's fellow South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson, who voted for the tax cut, and is up for re-election this year.
A new poll out today suggests that despite the recession, the public favors the GOP on the issues of most urgent concern to voters. The poll, by the Pew Center, found that 83 percent of the public now considers defending the United States against terrorism a top priority. That put the issue ahead of all others, including the economy, which came in second. The polls showed the public by 51 to 18 percent favored the GOP over the Democrats on ideas on terrorism abroad and by 48 to 16 percent on terrorism at home. Republicans also ranked higher – by 43 to 34 percent on the economy, though Democrats did better – 40 to 35 percent on taxes.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the United States still thinks Usama bin Laden is in Pakistan and one of bin Laden's former friends basically agrees: he thinks bin Laden is dead. Essam Darez, an Egyptian journalist who spent time with bin Laden in the late 1980s, told Reuters that bin Laden's appearance in that last videotape was that of "a sick man who believed he was going to die and that he must deliver this message before he did." Darez says he "99 percent believes he's been killed in the caves of Afghanistan."
Remember Dorothy Pelote, the Georgia State legislator who said in September that she'd been visited by the spirit of missing Washington intern Chandra Levy? She has a new idea. She wants to make it illegal for people to answer their doors naked. The ACLU says, though, that would violate the state constitution.