- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

Feingold's travels
"It's still less than 50-50 that he'll run, yet Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold plans to hit college campuses this fall to lay out a progressive Democratic agenda that may turn into his presidential platform," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"Insiders say he's being encouraged to run in 2004 by friends who like his pro-youth, pro-labor, and campaign finance reform message. Friends think he can energize voters without spending much money. His targets are Bill Bradley and Ralph Nader voters, already being courted by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry."

Battle of the stars
Karl Rove, who carries the title senior counselor to the president, is involved in almost every aspect of policy, politics and personnel within the administration, Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
"All this activity, plus Rove's long and trusting relationship with Bush, has made him not only the most influential adviser to Bush, but one of the most powerful presidential aides since the advent of the modern White House under President Franklin D. Roosevelt," Mr. Barnes said. In fact, the cartoon on the magazine's cover suggests that Mr. Rove might be even more influential than Mr. Barnes thinks — the president is depicted as a sort of hand puppet sticking out of the breast pocket of Mr. Rove's suit coat.
On the other hand, the New Republic reports that Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is involved in almost every aspect of policy in the White House, and to some extent has superseded Mr. Bush's longtime advisers from Texas, Mr. Rove and Karen Hughes.
"The anonymous fourth man in the inner circle of Bush's staff, Bolten is far less well-known than [Chief of Staff] Andy Card, Karl Rove, or Karen Hughes. But inside the White House, few doubt his importance," the magazine's Ryan Lizza writes.
"The three spheres of White House policy-making — Margaret La Montagne's Domestic Policy Council, Larry Lindsey's National Economic Council, and Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council — all report to him. Technically, Bolten is even Karl Rove's immediate superior. Since Bolten is the traffic cop for Bush's briefings, no policy matter comes before the president without his blessing. 'The fact of the matter is that Josh has tremendous influence, but his fingerprints aren't always obvious,' says a senior aide. Adds [White House congressional lobbyist Nick] Calio, 'Josh is a fairly quiet person in a lot of ways. He's got his hands in virtually everything at the White House, though. All policy matters report to him eventually.'"

Below the belt
The New York Times is not happy with President Bush's decision on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research — "There aren't likely to be enough cells available under his narrow regulations to give this promising avenue of research the government support it needs," the newspaper said in an editorial yesterday — but some Republicans, if not the president himself, may feel that the newspaper moved from argument to insult when it compared Mr. Bush to Bill Clinton.
Mr. Bush "is turning out to be a skilled triangulator. Like Bill Clinton before him, he has developed a gift for wriggling out of controversies by seizing the initiative and creating a third option," the newspaper said in an editorial headlined "William Jefferson Bush."
"In the case of stem cell research, and earlier in the fight over the patients' bill of rights, Mr. Bush was confronted by a popular cause that was anathema to important blocs of his supporters. Instead of fighting, or collapsing, he cobbled a plan of his own that had a surface resemblance to the original but eliminated the things his base most disliked.
"The president's supporters might rightly point out that this is exactly what political leaders are supposed to do. His opponents might then retort that the Republicans weren't all that impressed when Bill Clinton was the one doing the trick.
"The similarities between our current president and his predecessor are becoming striking, but they go only so far. Certainly Mr. Bush's supporters aren't loudly sighing with exasperation the way liberal Democrats did when Mr. Clinton defused a crisis by co-opting the Republican position. Perhaps that's because Mr. Bush's forays to the center have been mainly cosmetic. He is the master of the bipartisan photo opportunity."

Kiss and make up
As Al Gore emerges from political hibernation following his defeat in the 2000 presidential election, one of his senior campaign aides is urging Mr. Gore and Bill Clinton to make peace.
"I think it's important for the Democratic Party and important for both those men on a personal and political level that they heal that rift," Carter Eskew, who served as a top Gore strategist last year, said in an interview yesterday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."
"I think they've taken some initial steps to do that," Mr. Eskew added.
Mr. Gore reportedly blames his defeat on Mr. Clinton's scandalous behavior in office, while Mr. Clinton is said to feel resentment because Mr. Gore did not campaign on Mr. Clinton's record and did not ask Mr. Clinton to campaign for him.
"You've written that President Clinton held Al Gore back," Mr. Stephanopoulos said to Mr. Eskew.
Asked if the former president and his vice president have talked to each other, Mr. Eskew said, "Not to my knowledge."
But Mr. Eskew went on to say Mr. Gore told him he and Mr. Clinton had a "good, warm conversation" at the funeral of Massachusetts Congressman Joe Moakley.
"And they also had a very famous tough conversation in the Oval Office. I think they got mad at each other and aired some grievances. And I think that's the first step in healing any relationship," Mr. Eskew said.

Nomination questioned
President Bush's nominee to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was fired from the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 1995 amid accusations of payroll fraud, a newspaper says.
Steven A. Williams was dismissed from his job as deputy executive director after it was discovered that he had asked a subordinate to change payroll records, which temporarily boosted Mr. Williams' salary, the Erie (Pa.) Times-News reported yesterday.
Mr. Williams was never charged over the incident. He told the newspaper he was frustrated over the dismissal and said he did not know anyone was doing anything wrong. If the matter comes up during his Senate confirmation hearings, Mr. Williams said it will be a chance to tell his side of the story.
Mark Pfeifle, a spokesman for the Department of the Interior, which includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, said yesterday that Mr. Williams had been "completely exonerated by the Pennsylvania attorney general, completely exonerated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and those who say otherwise are ill-advised and not backed up by the facts."
"We look forward to his confirmation by the Senate," Mr. Pfeifle told the Associated Press.
Mr. Williams is currently the secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Schippers joins case
David Schippers, who was chief legal counsel for the House Judiciary Committee when it voted to impeach President Clinton, will serve as legal adviser to the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch in its actions on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton donor Peter F. Paul, Judicial Watch announced Friday at a news conference.
Mr. Schippers is now with the Chicago law firm Schippers and Bailey.
Mr. Paul charges that he donated more than $2 million to Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign last year, and that none of it was reported to the Federal Election Commission, as required by law.
"Mr. Schippers will also aid in Mr. Paul's defense against federal charges for which he has been unjustly indicted," Judicial Watch said in a prepared statement. "The Clintons have yet to be held accountable and Judicial Watch and David Schippers will work together to meet this objective."

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