- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2000

A change of heart

Jeanne O'Laughlin, the Dominican nun and president of Barry University who hosted a meeting between Elian Gonzalez and his grandmothers, took to the op-ed page of the New York Times yesterday to explain why she had changed her mind about sending the 6-year-old back to Cuba.
As she awaited the arrival of the grandmothers and their Cuban government escorts, "I had a chance to see, firsthand, the strong bond between Elian and the Miami cousin who has taken care of him since his mother died in the same attempt to escape Cuba by boat that set him adrift," Sister O'Laughlin said.
"His cousin is only a year younger than his mother was, and as he glanced at her for reassurance before the meeting and greeted her ecstatically afterward, it became clear to me that he has transferred his maternal love to her.
"As I watched the grandmothers' Cuban escort keep close telephone contact with Havana during and after the visit, I came to feel that the Cuban government was attempting to exert control over these events. Even more troubling, I saw signs of anxiety in both the Miami relatives and the grandmothers: trembling, furtive looks, ice-cold hands.
"I saw fear in Elian, too, and I became a wiser woman at that moment, wincing at my own naivete. I considered what it would mean for this boy suddenly to be ripped away from his surrogate mother, how this second trauma might scar him permanently. I saw and felt, at that moment, how wrong it would be to return Elian hastily to Cuba."

Mrs. Sincerity

"The first year of Mrs. Clinton's New York experience is just ending, and on Sunday she is scheduled to announce officially her candidacy for the United States Senate. Things are not, on the whole, going well," Elizabeth Kolbert writes in the New Yorker.
"Her halting and always implausible campaign has, so far, consisted mostly of gaffes, wasted opportunities, and prurient questions from the press," Miss Kolbert said.
"How does someone mount a Senate campaign from a state where she has never lived if she has no record of accomplishment to point to and is, on top of all that, widely distrusted? The answer that is emerging is, like the first lady's sentimental musing on her tchotchkes, as once stranger and more ordinary than could have been expected: she is planning, it seems, to base her candidacy on the quality of her concern, the heartfeltness of her convictions, and the depth of her feeling to run, in other words, on her sincerity."
Meanwhile, a lot of Democratic politicians in New York are losing heart, the writer said.
"In public, the tone of their pronouncements about the race has grown increasingly wan, abstracted, and noncommittal. In private, they mostly complain."

Thuggish behavior

"War hero Sen. Bob Kerrey who won a medal and lost a leg in Vietnam insists he's not bothered that pro-Gore thugs heckled him as 'Cripple' because he backs Bill Bradley," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes, referring to an incident earlier this week in New Hampshire.
" 'That's the first honest thing they've said in 10 days,' quipped Kerrey, who also got splattered with mud on his 'truth squad' mission of telling the world Gore's a liar on issues like abortion.
"Kerrey shouldn't expect any apologies on Gore's part: 'Should our campaign have to apologize to Bob Kerrey that he had to come to a Gore event to find a crowd?' sniped Gore flack Chris Lehane.
"The funny thing is, Gore folks regularly shadow Bradley in at least one case the Gore campaign even filmed a Bradley rally but the Bradley folks didn't heckle them or try to keep them out."

The Reagan economy

Stephen Moore, an economist with the Cato Institute, gives President Clinton credit "for keeping the expansion moving" into a record-breaking 107th month, but "arguably Bill Clinton's greatest economic achievement has been that almost all of his cockamamie policy ideas were never enacted into law."
Mr. Moore, writing in the Feb. 4 issue of Human Events, asks: "Remember the BTU tax? Remember Robert Reich's $50 billion fiscal stimulus package? Remember, most of all, Hillary's health care plan? Thankfully, we dodged all of these economic wrecking balls.
"Clinton's ill-advised tax hike in 1993 slowed the economy for about 18 months, but thanks to falling inflation which is like an offsetting tax cut and the technology boom, it didn't stall it."
Mr. Moore added: "The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan. America's economic turnaround started in the early 1980s, a decade before Bill Clinton arrived in Washington. In 1982 almost every vital economic trend from unemployment to inflation to family incomes reversed course from the stagflationary 1970s."

Under assault

Free speech is under assault in Austin, Texas.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was scheduled to speak at the University of Texas yesterday, but the event was canceled in the wake of threats by a left-wing group called the Radical Action Network. The group had vowed to disrupt the lecture.
Last year, leftists there disrupted a speech by civil rights activist Ward Connerly, calling him an "Uncle Tom." Mr. Connerly opposes racial preferences and quotas.

Ski season

"It has been a busy month at some of Colorado's finer ski slopes for prominent (and money-hungry) Democrats," National Journal reports.
From Jan. 20 to 24, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island "were schussing and raising funds for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee," the magazine said.
"Gephardt and Kennedy, who is head of the DCCC, were playing hosts to two dozen of the committee's mega-donors. Their fun on the slopes was capped with a dinner that included slabs of local elk at the vacation home of Joe Rice, a well-wired South Carolina trial lawyer."

Atheism and tolerance

Vice President Al Gore, questioned by Newsweek, says it would not bother him if an atheist became president.
"No, it would not," Mr. Gore said. "I think it would depend on who the person was, of course. But do I believe that someone can have an understanding of our Constitution [and] a true spirit of tolerance without affirming a particular and specialized belief in God? Yes, I do. I think that is incumbent upon anyone who affirms a respect for tolerance."

Music man

Vice President Al Gore will narrate Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Accompanying Mr. Gore will be the American Symphony Orchestra and the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, according to a full-page ad in the New Republic. The concert will benefit "seven institutions aiming to fulfill the promise of America," and maybe even help Mr. Gore win a few votes.

Pancake man

As reported here and elsewhere, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer fell down the other day while trying to flip and catch pancakes at a lighthearted event in New Hampshire.
What was not reported: The week before the Iowa caucuses, the Associated Press noted oddball facts about the various candidates. Under "hidden talents," Mr. Bauer listed "Making pancakes."

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