Conservatives Note Double Standard on Moran Statement

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

Capitol Hill ( - Conservatives Tuesday criticized the muted response from the Democratic leadership in Congress to allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) compared to their outcry over racially insensitive remarks last year by then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who now heads a group called American Values, has written House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), asking her to "publicly disavow the anti-Semitic slander of Rep. Jim Moran."

At a March 3 anti-war forum in Reston, Va., Moran seemed to blame America's Jewish community for the looming war with Iraq.

"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this," he said. "The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."

At first, Moran defended the remarks.

"The reason I referenced the Jewish community is because a woman asking a question identified herself as being Jewish," he explained in a March 7 statement, "and I regret doing that."

Although Moran apologized in that press release, he apparently felt the need to strengthen his apology in a second release on March 10.

"I should not have singled out the Jewish community and regret giving any impression that its members are somehow responsible for the course of action being pursued by the administration, or are somehow behind an impending war," Moran said. "I deeply regret any hurt that I may have caused and sincerely apologize to anyone I may have offended."

Democrats Condemn Moran's Statements

Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate did condemn Moran's comments.

"It's a sad day when comments like that are made," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). "They debase the debate, and they have no purpose."

Daschle's response was similar to statements he made following racially insensitive remarks by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) at a birthday party for then-Senator Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).

"There are a lot of times when [Lott] and I go to the microphone and would like to say things we meant to say differently," Daschle said in December.

Lott remarked that the country "wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" had voters in other states followed Mississippi's lead in the 1948 presidential elections and supported Thurmond, who ran on a segregationist platform.

Following criticism from Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, Daschle offered a stronger condemnation of Lott.

"Regardless of how [Lott] intended his statement to be interpreted, it was wrong to say it, and I strongly disagree with it," Daschle said. "His words were offensive to those who believe in freedom and equality in America."

But after initially trying to apologize and move on, Lott was forced to resign his Senate leadership post over the controversy. His resignation was demanded by numerous liberal "civil rights" groups and Democrats in both houses of Congress.

Bauer Alleges Washington 'Double Standard'

Pelosi said Moran's comments "were not only inappropriate, they were offensive" and had "no place in the Democratic Party." But she also defended her Democratic colleague, saying that Moran had "properly apologized."

Pelosi's take on Lott's "completely inappropriate" remarks was noticeably different, however, than her subdued criticism of Moran.

"I don't know if any apology is adequate," Pelosi said of Lott.

That contradiction concerns Bauer, who has worked with Pelosi on human rights issues and other matters related to China.

"I think there clearly is a double standard," Bauer told Wednesday. "It's been clear in Washington for many years that conservatives get one mistake, and liberals have the slate wiped clean with each new day."

Moran's remarks could be considered more offensive than Lott's, Bauer believes, because of their context and timing.

"Moran's contemporary comments are much more ugly and bigoted than Lott's observations on a 50-year-old presidential race," he charged.

Bauer feels Democrats should hold Moran to the same standard they applied to Lott.

"I feel that this is pernicious enough that, at the very least, he should be stripped of any kind of committee chairmanships, any kind of leadership position," Bauer said. "Beyond that, it's a serious enough thing that I would hope he would step down."

Moran: 'Probably Not Meant to Be in the Congress'

Moran acknowledged Wednesday that his personality continues to get him in trouble.

"I'm rough around the edges, and I always will be," Moran told Fox News Channel's Brian Wilson.

Wilson reported that in 1995, Moran was involved in a "shoving match" on the House floor. In 2000, police were called after Moran shoved a young boy at an elementary school in Virginia. The congressman accused the boy of trying to steal his car.

"I'm probably not meant to be in the Congress," Moran told Wilson.

Despite that admission and more than one call to do so, Moran has said that he will not resign his seat. He has contacted a number of Jewish groups to offer meetings with them to reconcile the controversy. At least one of the groups has refused to meet with Moran.

Calls to Pelosi's leadership office Wednesday were not returned prior to the submission of this article for publication, nor had any response to the Bauer letter been published on her leadership website.

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