Daschle Blinded By the Left?

Posted April 2, 2003 at 6:14pm

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), who’s still digging out from the fallout of criticizing President Bush’s “failed diplomacy” leading up to the war in Iraq, apparently isn’t afraid to keep going to the partisan well.

Daschle served as co-host of a Tuesday night book party for author David Brock, who once used dirty tricks to terrorize Democrats with negative stories but has now

trained his journalistic guns on the GOP, at the swank new 201 Lounge on Capitol Hill.

The party was organized by Democratic activists to celebrate publication of the paperback version of “Blinded by the Right,” Brock’s tome about his journey to renouncing his past as a conservative hit man who infamously wrote in a prior book that Anita Hill was “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

It sure sounds like Daschle and other members of the host committee — like Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and former Clinton adviser James Carville — believe that the way for Democrats to regain power is to emulate the attack politics that Democrats used to shake their fingers at with rage.

In his remarks, Brock noted that the party was being held across the street from the Heritage Foundation. He said “there is an institutional capacity that the conservative movement has to deliver those attacks.”

Brock urged Democrats to wake up to those attacks. “Conservatives talk about the war of ideas,” he said. “That’s the war we have to wage.” Indeed, Democrats like John Podesta (another party co-host) are thinking about creating a liberal think tank and a left-wing radio network of their own to do battle with the right.

“You’ve given us the inspiration to fight,” Reid told Brock at the party. “And fight we are. And I think you’re going to see a new Democratic Party in the near future, thanks to you.”

Daschle, meanwhile, happily embraced Brock. “We’re here to celebrate the courage of a very, very articulate writer,” he said. “Someone that I’ve come to admire for his ability to communicate our challenge. And to communicate the political lay of the land as we begin a new century.”

In a stark sign of the 180-degree turn Democrats have made in cozying up to a man who delivered attacks they once condemned, Daschle even referenced the fact that former President Bill Clinton urged him to read Brock’s book over breakfast a year ago.

“He handed me his copy underlined and circled and dog-eared and everything else,” recalled Daschle. “He said, ‘You’ve got to read this book.’ I must tell you, it’s probably the best advice he’s given me in at least a couple of years.”

When asked Wednesday whether Daschle was concerned about the tactics Brock used in the old days, spokeswoman Ranit Schmelzer told HOH: “I suspect that at the time he was bothered by them. But now he respects that [Brock] has disavowed them.”

Schmelzer said she was unsure of what lessons Daschle took from the book and whether it was simply a matter of Democrats doing a stronger job of attacking back. “I haven’t read the book,” she said. “I can’t read into what he had to say” at the party.

Schmelzer stressed that Daschle also made some light-hearted remarks at the bash. Daschle said that Reid had authorized him to make a special announcement to Republicans in the room.

“If you’re willing to disavow your past and change your ways, we’ll have a party like this for you as well,” he said to wild applause.

But one senior Democrat thought Daschle’s comments about Brock’s courage were “a little bit over the top,” adding that many folks on the left consider Brock to be “pond scum” for what he did in the Clinton years.

Indeed, Brock dropped any sense of journalistic objectivity and joined forces with the first Bush administration in 1991 to help get Clarence Thomas confirmed to the Supreme Court by trashing Hill, the nominee’s chief accuser. Thomas, you may recall, is one of the conservatives whom Democrats like to demonize.

Then in 1993, Brock wrote the infamous “Troopergate” story for the American Spectator that introduced the world to Paula Jones and other Clinton sexual escapades.

Brock later slammed two respected journalists, Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, who had written a competing book about Thomas. He did this in a book review in which he shot down Abramson and Mayer’s claim that Thomas had rented X-rated movies.

As Brock admits in his latest book, he “lost his soul” and knowingly lied about the porn episode in order to try to help Thomas and discredit Abramson and Mayer.

“I demonized Democratic Senators, their staffs and [Anita] Hill’s feminist supporters without ever interviewing any of them,” Brocks writes in his book renouncing his past. “I was so blinded by my partisan tunnel vision and my tortured desire to make it in the movement that I believed my own propaganda.”

Farr Left. One of Congress’ leading critics of the war in Iraq, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), on Wednesday became the first Member to display the flag of the United Nations outside his office in the Longworth House Office Building.

“This is to show solidarity with the U.N. and reinforce Sam’s position that we are part of the international community,” said Farr spokeswoman Sarah Rosen.

The U.N. flag joins the American flag and the flags of California and the Peace Corps (Farr is an alumnus) outside the Congressman’s door.

Rosen said Farr’s neighbors and colleagues had yet to express their opinion about her boss’ move, but figured it was only a matter of time.

“I hope it’ll be nice things,” she said. “They may yell at us.”

Chabot vs. Chabot. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who has a bit of French heritage, is just the latest lawmaker to get caught up in a trans-Atlantic spat over that nation’s refusal to support the war in Iraq.

At a recent hearing of the House International Relations Committee, the Congressman cracked, “It troubles me, as one with the surname of Chabot … to say this, but one would think that the French, of all people, would be quick to understand the high price of appeasement.”

Let’s just say that did not sit too well with Josselin de Rohan Chabot, the majority leader in the French Senate.

“Unlike you I am not ashame[sic] of my name which has been born from the Crusades to now on by honest, dignified, often courageous and even illustrious people,” he wrote, adding that his own grandfather was killed in World War I and his father was a decorated veteran of World War II.

Sen. Chabot added, “I would see no objection in you changing your name into a more British patronymic if you find yours too difficult to bear. As the head of the Chabot family I am offended by the idea that an homonymous should be ashame[sic] of a name very respected in our country.”

The kicker came in the conclusion, when the Senator wrote that “Chabot” originates from the Latin word for “head.”

“Therefore it seems important to me especially under the present circumstances that politicians on both [sides] of the Atlantic should do their utmost not to loose[sic] their heads nor their ways in unconsidered comments,” he wrote.

Congressman Chabot fired back a response with a copy of the hearing transcript, writing that the Senator misunderstood what had been said.

“Am I ashamed of my name? No,” wrote the Congressman. “Am I ashamed of my heritage? Certainly not. Am I appalled at the deplorable behavior of your government during this critical time in history? Absolutely.”

He closed it by writing, “No, Monsieur Chabot, I am not ashamed of my name or my family. But I am first and foremost an American. And proud to be one.”

Sibling Rivalry. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) has lost a key round in her battle with several relatives over how to carve up the sizeable estate of her grandfather, cattle and citrus boss Ben Hill Griffin Jr.

A federal judge dismissed a suit that Harris and two siblings had brought against three relatives, according to The Associated Press. The suit alleged that the other heirs had inflated stock values, among other charges.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.