- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2000

Tax-cut bidding war

Congressional Democrats and most of the news media have been arguing against what they like to deride as that "huge" tax cut proposed by President-elect George W. Bush, but events appear to have moved in Mr. Bush's favor.

"Indeed, Congress and the incoming White House might be preparing for a tax-cut bidding war," USA Today reporter Jonathan Weisman writes.

The watchwords now are "circumstances have changed," the reporter said.

In February, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to boost its 10-year budget-surplus projection to $6 trillion, up from a $4.6 trillion estimate in July. At the same time, the slowing economy appears to need a boost.

"Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute, 'ruefully' told the reporter: 'I think we're going to have a huge tax package. I have no doubt about it at all.' "

New York, New York

"Pals of the soon ex-first couple doubt Hill and Bill had their fill of suburbia and will kill for a home in The City," New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams writes.

"Me, I'm telling you it's truth. He wants it. She will do it for him. He wants The Main Stem, The Main Drag, The Big Apple, The Big Town, The Capital of The Whole World, New York City. This man from Hope, Arkansas (which is so small that the local hooker is a virgin), figures he's too large to dwell in Chippewa/ Chappequiddick/Chapultepec/ Chappaqua or whatever he thinks this town is called. He wants movies, theaters, think tanks, museums, people, action, models, corporations, Le Cirque, life.

"He doesn't want foliage, air, flowers trees, insects and 7-Elevens," Mrs. Adams writes.

"This I know. What I don't know, but I figure could be, is that's why Hillary didn't grab that expensive Georgetown home she coveted. Maybe because, although they'll make a few when they flip the Chappaqua place, they'll need serious money for a major New York pad."

Goodbye, Al

"Perhaps the silliest notion floating out there in the political air right now is the idea that Vice President Al Gore's graceful concession speech has given him some kind of running start toward the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004," political pundit Jack Germond writes at www.Voter.com.

"As Marion Barry might say, get over it. Gore is finished as a player on the national stage. He has committed the one truly unforgivable sin of American politics by losing an election he should have won in a walk.

"The fact that he finally withdrew with style cannot wipe the slate clean. He didn't have many options, after all. And good manners may be prized in prep school, but rarely in big-league politics," Mr. Germond said.

Mr. Gore "is going to be remembered as a nominee who not only lost a sure thing but managed to spend five weeks confirming his failure. And the resentment will fester among these Democrats as they sit by while George W. Bush, a politician they hold in what might be called minimum high regard, presides from the Oval Office."

"There are already signs of a debate within the Democratic Party much like those that usually occur among losers trying to fix the blame. The centrists of the Democratic Leadership Council are complaining that Gore lost by playing too openly to the liberal wing. The liberals are equally persuaded that the vice president failed to make a strong enough case with the Democratic base.

"They wonder how he could lose his home state. And they wonder how he could lose a party bastion like West Virginia.

"The answer, of course, is quite simple. The vice president was a terrible candidate. He projected an image as being arrogant, patronizing and, above all, contrived and manipulative. He didn't display all though the campaign the grace he showed when he finally conceded.

"So why would it make sense to nominate him again? Is he going to transform his personality in the next four years? Does anyone believe he would be more attractive as a challenger than as a quasi-incumbent running on a record of eight years in office?"

Toward acceptance

"The presidential campaign has finally ended, but my cell phones are still ringing," Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway writes at www.Salon.com.

"For the past 18 months, mostly journalists called me, looking for information. Now my colleagues are calling, seeking solace. Some worked with me at Gore-Lieberman headquarters in Nashville. Some toiled in far-flung field offices. Others lived inside the 'bubble' with the candidate, traveling nonstop for more than a year. Most are now slogging through the stages of the grieving process shock, denial, sadness and anger slouching toward acceptance.

"My friends, I have completed the journey. It was a torturous road, but I traveled it briskly. As a mark of my progress, I can report that I am now reading the front pages without wincing and watching the evening news without shouting at the television… ."

NRA rules

The National Rifle Association more often reflects the views of Americans than either the AFL-CIO or the religious right, according to a Zogby American Values poll.

In the national survey of 1,005 likely voters, conducted Dec. 15 through Dec. 17, 63 percent said the NRA represents their personal views at least some of the time. That figure includes 19 percent who said the group represented their views all the time.

Thirty-four percent said the NRA never represented their views. The survey had a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

By comparison, 59 percent said the religious right represents their personal point of view at least some of the time, with 13 percent saying all the time and 35 percent saying never.

Only 55 percent said the AFL-CIO represents their views at least some of the time, with 6 percent said all the time. Thirty-five percent said the AFL-CIO never represents their views.

Name-calling

It's hard to tell whom Newsweek Managing Editor Evan Thomas despises most Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, or conservatives pleased by Mr. Ashcroft's nomination to be attorney general.

Mr. Thomas, in an appearance over the weekend on WUSA-TV's "Inside Washington," said: "Well, you know, attorney general is actually an important job. Why can't they buy off the right wing with unimportant jobs? I mean, this is a sop, I assume, to buy off the wing nuts, but it's like giving, I mean, the attorney general counts, it matters."

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