- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

'Borking' Ashcroft

Although no senator has yet publicly opposed the nomination of Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, to be attorney general, "many of the same members of the liberal coalition that defeated the Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork in 1987 are scrambling to mount an aggressive campaign against Mr. Ashcroft," the New York Times reports.

"At stake, opponents argue, are everyday considerations from privacy rights and constitutional freedoms, to whether Mr. Ashcroft's anti-abortion position will interfere with his ability to enforce federal laws protecting abortion rights," reporter Eric Schmitt writes.

It was not clear what the reporter and his sources meant by "privacy rights and constitutional freedoms," although the terms may have been euphemisms for abortion.

"Beyond the immediate issue of Mr. Ashcroft's ability to serve as attorney general, some Democrats said, a fight at his confirmation hearings will help mobilize for future battles core party supporters still energized by the Florida recount battles."

The anti-Reno

"Mercifully, Ms. [Janet] Reno has but a few more days left in office," writes Tunku Varadarajan, deputy editorial-features editor at the Wall Street Journal.

"Of all the Cabinet choices made so far by George W. Bush, the most instructive indeed, in many respects the most noteworthy is that of the man selected to do her job. There could not be a greater contrast of character than that between John Ashcroft, Mr. Bush's choice, and Ms. Reno," Mr. Varadarajan said.

"Mr. Ashcroft is guided entirely, even if severely, by objective principle. He is a man of adamant moralism, with an old-fangled faith in the rule of law. He may not drink or smoke or dance, but he does have a sense of grace, not to mention a refreshing lack of hubris witness his ceding of his Senate seat to the widow of Mel Carnahan, the Missouri governor, when he could have challenged an election in which a dead man emerged victorious.

"Predictably, liberal critics are lining up to pillory him. The New York Times, in an editorial on Saturday, described his selection as 'Mr. Bush's rightward lurch.' the Times' choice of verb is revealing: In the liberal vocabulary, it is only to the right that people 'lurch,' in a movement that suggests a lack of control or judgment. When Mr. Gore started bashing big corporations during his election campaign, that was a neutral 'shift' to the left.

"Far from being a lurch, Mr. Bush's choice of Mr. Ashcroft is deliberate and controlled. It is designed to send out a simple message: My attorney general will be as unlike Ms. Reno as it is possible to be. He will, in fact, be the 'anti-Reno,' and it is no exaggeration to say that this country needs an anti-Reno as badly as it needs a new first lady."

Daley's future

William M. Daley, like other members of Vice President Al Gore's campaign high command, is trying to figure out what's next in his life.

In an interview with Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Tackett, the former Commerce secretary and chairman of Mr. Gore's presidential campaign said he did not know what the future holds, but he is considering corporate positions in New York, Chicago and Washington. "Wherever the best deal is," he said.

Said the reporter: "He also refused to rule out a run for public office, perhaps for governor of Illinois, but he said such a move would be politically difficult so long as his brother, Richard, was mayor of Chicago: 'That's probably the best job, but unless I can convince Rich to quit … .' "

However, Mr. Daley said Washington does have a particular "allure."

"I've been around the White House and the presidency. There is a tremendous allure to it all. Potomac Fever is pretty strong. But it is also very transitory."

Cuomo's plan

Andrew M. Cuomo, the departing federal housing secretary, plans a "massive" fund-raising effort for the 2002 gubernatorial campaign in New York, the New York Post reports.

The fund-raising, aided by what reporter Fredric U. Dicker described as "a broad list of celebrity supporters," will begin next month with the goal of raising $5 million by spring, two anonymous sources said.

Someone described as a prominent Democrat working on the campaign made it clear that Mr. Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, hopes to unnerve rival Democrat Carl McCall, the state comptroller who also plans a run for governor.

"Frankly, raising that much money that quickly will be a shot across the bow for McCall," the Democrat said.

Mr. Cuomo and his wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, plan to move to New York within the next few months from their home in Virginia, the sources said. The couple is searching for a house in Westchester County, although no one was betting they would end up in Chappaqua.

Still searching

Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, and her husband continue to house hunt in the tonier neighborhoods of Washington, the Associated Press reports.

The Clintons came close to a purchase over the Christmas weekend, but couldn't agree with the owner on a price.

According to The Washington Post, which cited "a source familiar with the deal," the owners wanted $2.19 million, the Clintons offered $1.7 million and the owners said they would settle for $1.99 million. But no deal was reached.

White House officials yesterday refused to talk about the first family's house hunting. But Clinton watchers around town have seen the first lady and the president touring homes in ritzy Washington neighborhoods, including Cleveland Park, Georgetown, Foxhall and Kalorama.

More on Nostradamus

"Fittingly, we're ending our millennial trek with a little controversy over Nostradamus, the 16th-century astrologer who believed that he could see the future by gazing into a bowl of water (and who has been the star of so many millennial cataclysmic warnings)," New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.

"Lately, he's been on the e-mail circuit with a prediction that is supposed to go like this:

Come the millennium, month 12,

In the home of greatest power,

The village idiot will come forth

To be acclaimed the leader

"That looks at first glance like a rather impolite jab at George W. But I actually suspect Team Bush of composing it the jokes about its guy's I.Q. have pushed the bar so low that the president-elect now gets kudos every time he successfully brushes his teeth," the columnist said.

"For sure, somebody made it up. ('This is a chain letter hoax!' cries the Nostradamus the Seer Web site.) Certainly, the poem is way too explicit for Nostradamus, who favored vague metaphors written in a melange of dead and near-dead languages that resist precise translation. If the TV commentators had only followed his lead and spoken in Latin and medieval French on election night, they would have had much less apologizing to do."

Level of paranoia

"The exploitation of the hate-crimes issue during the [presidential] campaign reveals how vulnerable black people are to bogus characterizations of 'civil rights' matters," writes Ward Connerly, a black businessman who has led the movement to outlaw racial preferences.

"Even more frightening is the level of paranoia among a significant segment of black America about the continued existence of 'white racism.' There are racists in our nation and they come in all types but 'white racism' is not the biggest problem facing black people," Mr. Connerly said in an opinion piece in the New York Post.

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