Thursday Roundup


George Will has weighed in on the bill to give the District of Columbia voting representation in the House. He's against it, for the sound constitutional reason that Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the House should be made up of representatives "of the several states," and the District is not a state. Will believes the Democrats see this as the first step in giving D.C. two seats in the Senate. I don't think that's the motive of all the supporters of the bill, including Northern Virginia Republican Tom Davis, who came up with the idea of adding a seat for the District and one for the state entitled to the 436th seat under the redistricting formula, which after the 2000 Census just happened to be Utah, the most Republican state in the Union.

I've written on this subject and on Larry Sabato's uncharacteristically absurd claim that giving the District a House seat will give it a fourth electoral vote. On one point Will could have made an even stronger argument. His second-to-last sentence runs, "The Constitution's 23rd Amendment, enacted in 1961, entitles the District of Columbia to the number of presidential electoral votes to which it would be entitled 'if it were a state.'" Yes, but the amendment adds that the District will not get more electoral votes than the smallest state. In 1961, when the apportionment following the 1950 Census was still in effect, the District would have been entitled to two House members and four electoral votes if it were a state. But some states had only one House member and three electoral votes, and the amendment limited the District to that number. But perhaps Will just ran out of space.

Speaking of Larry Sabato, his crystal ball this week takes an early look at possible vice presidential nominees–and finds that almost none of the 20 Republicans (or Republican possibilities: He's got Joe Lieberman on this list) and 22 Democrats he lists meet the requirements for the nomination. In fact, he seems to have scratched all the Republicans from the list and among the Democrats lists only freshman Sen. Bob Casey Jr., as having no disadvantages–although he might have noted that Casey's weak performance in debates in the 2006 campaign suggests he's not ready for a prime-time vice presidential debate. My own views? Among Republicans, I think Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson would be plausible candidates. Among Democrats, I think Evan Bayh, Phil Bredesen, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson, and Mark Warner would be plausible candidates. And I might add to the lists Republicans Norm Coleman, Bill Owens, and Tommy Thompson and Democrats Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, Tom Harkin, and Jim Hunt, as well as some of the single-digit presidential candidates. Owens and Hunt are the former governors of Colorado and North Carolina who initiated some programs of national significance. Although perhaps I should scrub Feinstein's name in light of this story.

Here's the exclusive report by my U.S. News colleague Dan Gilgoff of an interview with Focus on the Family's James Dobson on Republican presidential candidates. Dobson, who seldom speaks to political reporters, initiated the call. Gilgoff is the author of the recently published The Jesus Machine: How James Dobson, Focus on the Family and Evangelical America Are Winning the Culture War. It's a terrific piece of thorough and fair-minded reporting–and a darn good read.

Let me add my megadittos, in Rush Limbaugh language, to this post by Instapundit. Iran is violating the Geneva Conventions, of which it is a signatory. Where is the denunciation by "the human rights community"? Also, read this column on the hostage seizure by Austin Bay, who has been on boats in these same waters.

Is it possible that you weren't following Monday's Quebec provincial election? Here's a report from the Washington Post, and here's an interesting blogpost to which I found a link on David Frum's National Review blog. The headline: The separatist Parti Québécois slipped to third place, the ruling Liberal party had its worst showing in history and no longer has a majority in the provincial parliament, and the right-leaning ADQ party moved from 5 to 41 seats and is now the official opposition. Here is a website that links to the district-by-district results. I am far from being an expert on Quebec politics, but here's my brief analysis. The Liberals' strength is concentrated in the Montreal metropolitan area, in the regions labeled West Montreal and East Montreal (but the Parti Québécois won 8 seats there to 6 for the Liberals in the Francophone East while the Liberals won all 13 in the relatively Anglophone West), Laval and South Shore (just north and south of the St. Lawrence River opposite Montreal), the Eastern Townships (the area around Sherbrooke, north of Vermont), and Outaoais (the area around Hull, just north of the national capital of Ottawa). The Parti Québécois tended to win seats in heavily Francophone areas–East Montreal, Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspé, and Saguenay-St. Jean (remote areas in the north and east). The ADQ also won in heavily Francophone areas, especially in Quebec city, Chaudière-Appalaches (the area just south of the St. Lawrence opposite Quebec city), Lanaudière and Maurice-Bois-Francs (areas on either side of the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec city), and the Laurentians (the mountains northwest of Montreal). There's some similarity here to the pattern in the 2006 Canadian federal elections, in which the Liberals got some of their highest percentages in the nation in Anglophone Montreal; the Conservatives, to the surprise of most, picked up seats in the Quebec city and Francophone region between Montreal and Quebec city; and the Bloc Québécois won most of the heavily Francophone areas.