- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

On the brink

Some are indeed comfy with probable titles.

Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, has been calling George W. Bush "president-elect" for some time. Will others follow?

"We're getting close to that moment," soon-to-be vice president-elect Richard B. Cheney told NBC yesterday.

"Gov. Bush at this point still prefers Gov. Bush, and that's the way we're referring to him, and that's how he's asked the staff to address him. We've not yet crossed the Rubicon, so to speak, to the point where we feel comfortable using the other title."

Melancholy legacy

Everyone "knows somebody whose life was either disrupted or destroyed as a result of the investigations surrounding the Clinton machine," noted an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial yesterday.

The latest casualties are Al Gore and Joseph I. Lieberman, the paper said.

The vice president's promise "not to take legal action if he lost the recount in Florida now bears a striking resemblance to Clinton's finger wagging that he did not 'have sexual relations with that woman.' And if anybody thought Gore had a penchant for fibbing during the campaign, his latest round of whoppers is proof that no matter how bad something is, it can always get worse."

Mr. Gore has resorted to "Clintonisms, what sound good but just aren't true," and has adopted the president's philosophy, "win at any and all costs."

The editorial concluded, "Bill Clinton will live forever in history books as an impeached president. In his shadow, Al Gore has solidified his historical footnote as the only candidate to contest a certified presidential election."

The sunshine's state

Though weary of the election impasse, Floridians have not lost their humor. A few bumper stickers recently spotted on local roads:

FLORIDA: If you think we can't vote, wait 'til you see us drive.

Palm Beach: We put the 'duh' in Florida.

FLORIDA: Where your vote counts. And counts. And counts.

If you don't like the way we count then take I-95 and visit one of the other 56 states.

The people have spoken. Now shut up and listen while the lawyers told you what they said.

The farm alarm

President Clinton, meanwhile, is planning to visit Nebraska, a GOP stronghold and a "Clinton-free zone," according to state Republican officials.

Folks have mixed reactions.

Some said they would wear black when he comes to call, according to the Associated Press. Others said they were proud that Nebraska was the only state Mr. Clinton had skipped over and wished it could keep that distinction.

The state has voted Republican in the last 15 presidential elections; a November exit poll found that 70 percent of those surveyed viewed Mr. Clinton unfavorably as a person.

"I don't favor a man that has the morality of that man in the White House. I couldn't favor him under any circumstances," said longtime Democrat William Kottas, 81, a retired mailman.

Still, a few Clinton fans exist.

"I don't think I'd want him for a husband and I don't think I'd want him as a son-in-law, but I think as a president he has done a wonderful job for us," noted Phyllis Johnson, chairwoman of the Saline County Democrats.

"We're forgetting what we learn in school as kids that the president is great," she added.

New on the bloc

The American Muslim Alliance released details yesterday about Muslim voting patterns in the presidential election, "showing that Muslims have made a difference," according to spokesman Asad Hayauddin.

In the past, 46 percent of the group voted Democrat, 36 percent voted Republican and 18 percent remained undecided. Demographics have changed.

In a post-election survey, the Alliance found that 80 percent of the Muslim Americans polled voted for George W. Bush; 10 percent voted for Ralph Nader.

The alliance also polled the 60,000 Muslim American voters in Florida and found that 91 percent of them voted for Mr. Bush.

"This is the first time that the Muslims decided to vote in large numbers for a specific agenda, creating a vote bloc," the group noted yesterday.

Might makes right

Are those traditional Republican Party manners about to crack? Texas GOPers think so.

During a weekend meeting in Corpus Christi, Texan members of the Republican National Committee told party officials that Republicans need to kick up their heels more.

"Now we are in a political war," said RNC member Denise McNamara. "Before, a Republican's idea of a protest was filling out a complaint card at the Marriott Hotel. We're going to have to do something else. We need to continue what we're doing but escalate; we're being driven to fight back as never before."

Others are not so sure.

"I don't think they should aggressively demonstrate," countered RNC member Genevieve Gonzalez. "They can achieve those functions without being militant."

Mr. Card as card

Andrew H. Card, chief-of-staff designate for George W. Bush, clarified a few things for ABC yesterday.

"Governor Bush has won the election. He's won the recount. He's won the recount again, and he's won the selected hand count. And he's been certified as the winner. I think that will stand up. He will be the next president of the United States."

Mr. Card denied reports that specific Democrats had been chosen for possible Cabinet positions, and noted that Mr. Bush was "appropriately engaged" in the Florida legal battle.

But ABC hostess Cokie Roberts then asked Mr. Card whether he had implied last week that Mr. Bush did not understand "all the workings of the White House and how the Cabinet will have to work."

Mr. Card was quick to reply, "No, and I think it's absurd for you to suggest that, Cokie … He's an outsider, but he knows how the inside of government works."

Cabinet musings

CBS is still pursuing the idea that George W. Bush will have a bipartisan Cabinet and asked Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, is he would accept an appointment if one was proffered.

"I wouldn't rule out anything," he replied. "It's nice to be asked, or be considered, either by a Gore administration or a Bush administration, but my basic premise is that the Senate is going to be a pretty exciting place to be in the next couple of years."

Point and click

The Internet is making a credible impact in politics. A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that almost one in five U.S. voters used the Internet for election news this year four times the number who went on line looking for election information in 1996.

More than half of those surveyed used the Internet simply out of convenience, looking primarily for candidate policy positions and voting records. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to send e-mail messages about candidates, take on-line polls or give money through a Web site.

The on-line data influenced the votes of 43 percent of the users, up from 31 percent in 1996. It had the biggest effect on consumers younger than 30; half said their information prompted them to vote for a particular candidate.

CNN's Web site was the most popular choice for news, followed by AOL and Yahoo. Campaign home pages went "largely unused," the survey found. Only 7 percent of the users visited candidate sites, down from 25 percent in 1996.

Web use spiked on Nov. 7 and 8 as up to 18 percent looked for on-line information. At any given time since then, the survey found, up to 15 percent of us are logged on, following the election saga.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at 202/636-3085 or by e-mail (Harper@twtmail.com).

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