- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

Gore's oil slip-up

President Clinton warned candidate Al Gore not to get involved in the issue of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to Wall Street Journal columnist Albert R. Hunt.

"A major reason Al Gore didn't win is that he failed to embrace Clintonism, if not Clinton," Mr. Hunt writes. "He should have listened to the man who still has the best political instincts in the country. One example: In September, Mr. Clinton planned to initiate a tapping of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but Mr. Gore, against the president's advice, insisted that he be allowed to call for it first. Polls later showed it to be a liability for the vice president."

The race is on

"Election 2000 is barely over, but Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware is weighing invitations to speak at a Democratic dinner Feb. 24 in Linn County, Iowa, and a St. Patrick's Day bash planned the next month by Manchester, N.H., Democrats," USA Today reports.

"Iowa? New Hampshire? The 2004 presidential race is stirring," reporter Jill Lawrence said.

"Some Democrats are still in mourning over the messy end to this year's contest, but some are eyeing the next race among them potential candidates already courting Democrats in the two states that hold the first primary-season presidential contests.

"Look no further than New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's 2000 re-election race for clues to the 2004 Democratic field. Former senator Bill Bradley campaigned for her. California Gov. Gray Davis held a fund-raiser for her. Retiring Sen. Bob Kerrey gave her $10,000."

Cozy relationship

Anthony Podesta, brother of President Clinton's chief of staff, John Podesta, is a lobbyist for Viacom, whose Simon & Schuster subsidiary is paying first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton $8 million to write a book.

The Viacom-White House link was revealed Wednesday by the Landmark Legal Foundation, which passed along the information to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

"The more we learn about Mrs. Clinton's book deal, the more questions it raises," said Landmark President Marc Levin in a prepared statement. "Her $8 million advance is way outside publishing industry norms. And now we learn that one of the chief lobbyists for her publisher's parent company is the brother of the president's chief of staff. At a minimum, this arrangement requires close examination by the Senate ethics committee."

Mr. Levin added: "Mrs. Clinton must either only accept a royalty agreement based on sales of her yet-to-be-written book, or recuse herself from any matter before the Senate that may benefit Viacom Inc., and its many subsidiaries."

Reich's prescription

"The economy is slowing, yet the surplus keeps growing. President-elect Bush wants to use both to justify a big tax cut. How should the Democrats respond?" asks Robert B. Reich, who once served as Bill Clinton's labor secretary.

"(A) Warn once again that a big tax cut will jeopardize Social Security and that a better use for the surplus is to pay down the nation's debt.

"(B) Reject any fiscal stimulus and trust Alan Greenspan and the Fed to achieve a 'soft landing.'

"(C) Agree with W. that a fiscal stimulus would be useful and appropriate, but argue that it should take the form of new spending on education, health care, child care, and public transit, rather than a tax cut.

"(D) Concur with W. that a tax cut is appropriate, but demand that it favor poor and working families instead of the rich.

"Answer: D."

Mr. Reich, writing in the American Prospect, explained:

"W. doesn't have a prayer of getting his touted $1.3 trillion tax cut through the next Congress, of course. Not even the Republican leadership is in favor [of it]. But unless Democrats counterpunch with one of the above responses, the betting is that a good-size tax cut will be rolled into the 2001 reconciliation bill that goes to W.'s desk within the year.

"Which reaction carries the biggest punch? For the past 18 months, Clinton and Gore have used option A above. But A won't wash if the economy keeps slowing and the surplus keeps growing."

Mr. Reich dismissed option B, saying Democrats should not cede control of the economy to 12 bankers who are more worried about inflation than unemployment. The only real choices are C or D, he added, and the former increased spending would take too long to stimulate the economy and would fail politically.

Sorry, Bill

If you liked www.SlapHillary.com, you're going to love the latest animated feature at David Horowitz's Web site.

In a recently published interview with Esquire magazine, President Clinton said: "Unlike [the Republicans], I have apologized to the American people for what I did wrong… . They never apologized to the country for impeachment. They never apologized for all the things they've done."

So Mr. Horowitz, a former Berkeley radical turned conservative strategist, has provided Republicans with an interactive opportunity to "apologize" to Mr. Clinton. Visitors to Mr. Horowitz's Front Page Magazine site (www.frontpagemag.com) can slap, punch or poke an animated version of the lame-duck president.

In a spirit of bipartisan reconciliation, the site also allows the visitor to offer Mr. Clinton "Monica's cigar" and then watch it explode in his animated face.

Lo and behold

"The collection of events we group under the heading 'Whitewater' produced 'no evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons,' as any liberal will tell you with much satisfaction," National Review observes in a recent editorial.

"The Whitewater investigations did, however, send several lesser people to jail, including a number who had personal knowledge of the Clintons' affairs knowledge they were strangely reluctant to share with prosecutors," the magazine said.

"Some cynical commentators out here in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy suggested that these non-informants were consoled in their adversity by the hope of receiving pardons from President Clinton before he left office. Lo and behold: As the end of the Clinton era approaches, well-sourced news stories are starting to surface predicting pardons for the likes of Susan McDougal and Webster Hubbell."

No comment

The State Department declared war yesterday on The Washington Post, blasting the paper for critical reports that it described as "inaccurate," "ludicrous" and "self-serving," according to Agence France-Presse.

The unusual attack, delivered by spokesman Philip Reeker at his daily news briefing, followed the publication of an editorial yesterday claiming the department was indifferent to the plight of American parents whose children have been abducted and brought to foreign countries.

"The accusations made in the editorial today, most especially that we somehow treat these cases with indifference or worse, are completely groundless," Mr. Reeker said, noting the piece in question had been based on an earlier report in the paper.

He made little attempt to disguise his contempt for The Post and maintained not only that the story and editorial were incorrect, but that the newspaper had intentionally ignored information provided by the State Department to reporters covering the child-abduction issue.

"We regret that The Post has consistently been unable or unwilling to take a fair and more honest approach to this very serious topic," Mr. Reeker said.

He stopped short of demanding a retraction or apology from the paper, saying any move to revise the reports or the editorial would have to come from The Post itself.

Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler, who handles complaints about the paper's coverage, declined to comment on Mr. Reeker's remarks and referred questions about them to the daily's public relations office.

A Post spokeswoman did not return phone calls seeking a response.

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