- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2001

Armey counterattack

House Majority Leader Dick Armey yesterday asked the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to meet with him to discuss what Mr. Armey said was a common practice of trying to make political gains by labeling Republicans as racists.

"I believe there is a phenomenon in American politics today that could justly be called 'racial McCarthyism' or 'reverse race-baiting,' " the Texas Republican said in a letter to Kweisi Mfume.

"Deliberate or not," Mr. Armey wrote, "if left unchallenged, this practice will continue to divide our nation."

Julian Bond, the NAACP board chairman, said yesterday he had not seen the letter but was aware of its contents.

"This is a typical complaint of those who oppose justice and fairness and who accuse those of us who insist on fairness of this tactic," Mr. Bond said.

Mr. Armey cited suggestions in recent years that Republicans were associated with church burnings and the dragging death of a black Texan, James Byrd. He noted that some had compared the Florida election to the racial battles of Selma, Ala.

The letter also mentioned comments at an NAACP meeting last week by Mr. Bond. The Baltimore Sun quoted Mr. Bond as saying that the new administration "selected nominees from the Taleban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing and chose Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."

Please disappear, Bill

"Congressional Democrats have a message for former President Clinton: Drop dead for at least the next six months," Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt writes.
"Bill Clinton is temperamentally unsuited to be an ex-president. Forget the babble about whether all the attention on him is detracting from George W. Bush's agenda. Democrats are dying," Mr. Hunt said.
"The frustration and anger over Mr. Clinton's behavior is intense. A longtime Clinton loyalist one of the most prominent members of the Democratic Party called [Wednesday] to praise a Wall Street Journal editorial page article by Hamilton Jordan. In that piece, the former chief of staff for Jimmy Carter called the Clintons arrogant, self-absorbed hustlers.
"Even some close friends believe the former president needs to lay low for the first half of this year. It's not bad advice for Sen. Hillary Clinton, either."
The columnist also had this to say about the former president: "He's up there in that big suburban house, alone, advised to minimize trips to their new Washington home. The Count of Chappaqua fumes about the praise lavished on his successor and the plight of his party. He explodes at criticism: This week he furiously tried to call Bill Daley after the former commerce secretary condemned him in a New York Times article last week. Mr. Clinton is contemptuous of the political skills of Al Gore. He reasons he has to keep the record straight.
"Wrong. The party out of power never has anyone who can rival the president of the United States. But, the Democrats do have comparatively able spokesmen in congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt. Their biggest obstacle is proving to be not George Bush but his predecessor."

Thurmond's tape

Sen. Strom Thurmond made a tape supporting his estranged wife's request to finish out his term if the 98-year-old Republican steps down early, a Columbia, S.C., newspaper reported yesterday.
Nancy Moore Thurmond met with Democratic South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges just before Thanksgiving to work out a deal where Mr. Hodges would appoint her to finish the senator's term, which ends in January 2003, the State reported, citing unidentified sources.
The newspaper said she showed a brief videotape made in the senator's Alexandria, Va., apartment of Mr. Thurmond endorsing the idea.
Mr. Hodges' spokesman, Morton Brilliant, would not comment on the report, the Associated Press said.
"Under no circumstances will I step down from office," the senator said through a spokesman Wednesday. "I was elected to serve the people of South Carolina and, God willing, I have every intention of finishing my term. I do not feel it is necessary for me to discuss this any further."

Ashcroft, gays meet

Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose views about homosexuals were questioned during his confirmation process, met with a group of homosexual Republicans about civil rights enforcement.
Kevin Ivers, spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, said he was heartened by the 25-minute session at the Justice Department, the Associated Press reports.
"That it was a gay organization reiterates the fact that the attorney general is serious about being everyone's attorney general," Mr. Ivers said. "He has stated more than any attorney general I can remember that he is going to be committed to enforcing the laws of this country without regard to ideology and, I think he's made that clear again with this gesture, meeting with a gay organization."
Mr. Ashcroft reiterated his commitment to upholding civil rights laws for all Americans the cornerstone of his remarks during his contentious confirmation hearings and welcomed the group's offer to work with him on civil rights matters, his spokeswoman said.
"It's important for them to know that if they have a concern it can be voiced," said Mindy Tucker, Mr. Ashcroft's spokeswoman.

'Jackals' fight back

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is temporarily delaying his new policy requiring reporters to wear special "Official Jackal" press passes when covering his events, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.
For a news conference yesterday, reporters and other media representatives were not required to display the badges issued Tuesday.
However, the governor "fully intends that the media use the passes, but we have to work out the details," Ventura spokesman John Wodele said Wednesday.
The outright refusal of some media organizations to accept or wear the credentials, which bear a large picture of the governor and designate the wearer as an "Official Jackal," is a critical factor in delaying enforcement of the new policy, Mr. Wodele acknowledged.
"We're evaluating the question of what to do, taking into account the [St. Paul] Pioneer Press' decision to return [the passes]," Mr. Wodele said.
He added that Mr. Ventura was "not happy at all with the Pioneer Press decision."
One option would be to reissue the passes without the words "Official Jackal." Mr. Wodele said that isn't likely but declined to say what options Mr. Ventura might be considering.

Kerrey's largesse

Even as he prepared to leave the Senate to become president of the New School University in New York, Bob Kerrey was distributing $52,000 "into the coffers of dozens upon dozens of state and local candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire," Roll Call reports.
Mr. Kerrey's largesse in the last three months of 2000, to politicians in states considered crucial to presidential aspirants, suggests that the Democrat might have some other presidency in mind besides that of heading an educational institution.
Reporter Paul Kane also noted that Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, will be in New Hampshire on March 17 for the annual Manchester City Democratic St. Patrick's Day brunch. "And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, overseen by House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, gave $125,000 to the re-election bid of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack late last year, after Democrats failed to reclaim the majority."
Another potential presidential candidate, Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, will be in Des Moines, Iowa, next week to deliver a speech at the Drake University Law School, Roll Call columnist Ed Henry reports.

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