- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2000

Fait accompli

"Chances of reopening Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House for traffic seem to be dead," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Worried that President Clinton's closure made for security reasons will be reversed, the administration is pushing work crews to complete construction of gates and barriers in the area before January's Inauguration Day."

Secret plan

Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, has discovered the Republicans' secret plan to retain control of Congress. "They are going to refuse to leave," says Mr. Obey, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Proof of this insidious plot can be found in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for Fiscal 2001, approved by the committee last week.

The bill provides no money for "the cost of transition to the 107th Congress; that is, the office moves that ordinarily accompany the beginning of a new Congress."

And even if a new Democratic majority does manage to storm the halls of Congress, Republicans could keep the upper hand. How? The bill provides no money for orienting new members.

Extra firepower

"As the National Rifle Association locks and loads for what promises to be its toughest congressional election battle ever (NRA troops, armed with cash and campaign savvy, will be in the trenches with anti-gun-control candidates), it is stockpiling extra firepower," the National Journal reports.

"The 3.5 million-member gunners group has elected to its board a few Washington hands who may give the association some help this fall. Freshmen on the 75-member board include Rep. Barbara Cubin, Wyoming Republican; conservative activists David Keene and Grover Norquist; and veteran lobbyist J.D. Williams," the magazine said.

"Meanwhile, Neal Knox, a powerful board member and prominent hard-liner who didn't win a new term, is not leaving quietly: Knox will be vying with a country-and-Western singer for an additional board slot to be filled later this month at the association's national convention in Charlotte, N.C."

A tipping point

"Sometimes things reach a tipping point, a moment of negative critical mass. Rudy Giuliani's Senate campaign has reached the moment at which a viable candidacy becomes wounded beyond repair," Peggy Noonan writes.

"It's not the lady, or the wife. It's not the cancer, or 'The Vagina Monologues' (in which [his wife Donna] Hanover was planning to star), or the other lady, or the history of intemperate statements, or the pugilistic personality. It is all of these things rolled up in one big snowball and rolling inexorably down the hill. Its speed will increase, not slow with time," Mrs. Noonan said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"This candidacy isn't going to work. And one senses Mr. Giuliani knows it, and those around him do, too. He's in the kind of mess that needs time and space and a quiet area in which to play itself out.

"One hopes the mayor will step up like a gent and step down. He should get out now, while others can still get in. He should stay on as mayor, and keep pushing the levers he's always loved pushing. It really is the job he was born to do… ."

Mrs. Noonan's choice to replace Mr. Giuliani as the Republican candidate against Mrs. Clinton: Gov. George E. Pataki.

Midlife crises

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, was asked yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" why Republicans are so passionately opposed to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate bid.

"They think she doesn't deserve to be senator from New York, for one thing. Also, Republicans would like to see an end to the Clinton-Gore years," Mr. Kristol said, adding:

"There are two ways to end the Clinton-Gore years: defeat [Vice President] Al Gore and defeat Hillary Clinton. I think defeating Al Gore is rather more important for the future of the country, but Republicans would be happy … if both happened."

As for the vice president, Mr. Kristol said, "People don't seem to want to vote for Gore… . It's really startling."

He added: "When a vice president wants to succeed a president, if you elect him, you are, in a sense, vindicating his presidency… . I don't think voters want to give Clinton a third term."

Mr. Kristol also made it clear he's had his fill of "midlife crises" involving some of the nation's top political leaders all of whom were married.

"There's been a decade of midlife crises with the president of the U.S., and the [former] speaker of the House," he said, referring to skirt-chasing by Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich.

"I think we can do without a midlife crisis in the New York Senate race," Mr. Kristol said, referring to the marital woes of Republican candidate New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is seeking a legal separation from his wife at a time when he has been seeing another woman.

Filling Rudy's shoes

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, thinks no one would be better than himself to "fill Rudy's shoes" in the Senate race.

"I don't think anybody could [do a better job]. But I don't know if the party leaders would agree with that. But I think I would make a very strong candidate. I get the Conservative line, the Right to Life line, good chance of the Independence line. And I would cut in very heavily into the building-trade union support that ordinarily would go to Democrats in New York City… . I think I represent working people. I think I am basically conservative, but I also understand a working man," Mr. King said last week on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews."

The parent gap

In a striking reversal for Democrats, "mothers are solidly backing the presumed Republican nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush," the Christian Science Monitor reports.

"The gap is 11 points 52 percent to 41 percent, according to independent pollster Andrew Kohut. Among fathers, Mr. Bush is ahead of Vice President Al Gore by an even larger margin 54 percent to 36 percent.

"This 'parent gap' can be attributed in part to the Clinton scandals and to the subsequent public sensitivity over what messages politicians send to the nation's youngsters," reporter Linda Feldmann said.

"Parents in particular seem sensitive to the morality issue. Bush's age and the fact that he has teen-age children may also make it easier for parents to relate to him than it was for them to identify with [1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob] Dole four years ago."

Rushmore candidate

The New Republic magazine figuratively puts former President George Bush on Mount Rushmore this week in a cover story by Jonathan Rauch.

Mr. Rauch argues that Mr. Bush is an object lesson in practical, effective, determined presidential behavior, even though he was not an inspirational figure.

"Reagan restored America's confidence, but Bush showed what American confidence meant. Bill Clinton and the country are still drawing on the credit that Bush built up," Mr. Rauch writes.

Just ask Oprah

"The death tax is unfair," writes Pete du Pont, the Republican former governor of Delaware and policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"If you don't believe me, just ask Oprah Winfrey, who told her audience, 'I think it's so irritating that once I die, 55 percent of my money goes to the United States government… . You know why it's so irritating? Because you have already paid nearly 50 percent [when the money was earned].' "

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