- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

War on the Hill

Democrats on Capitol Hill yesterday continued to accuse President Bush of taking the country to war under false pretenses.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, thundered on the floor of the Senate that doubts about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq “are beginning to drown out the assurances” from the president that they will be found.

“What amazes me is that the president himself is not clamoring for an investigation. It is his integrity that is on the line,” Mr. Byrd said. “It is his truthfulness that is being questioned. It is his leadership that has come under scrutiny. And yet he has raised no question, expressed no curiosity about the strange turn of events in Iraq, expressed no anger at the possibility that he might have been misled.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat and presidential long shot, introduced a bill yesterday co-sponsored by 30 of the House’s most liberal members that would “force the [Bush] administration to turn over the intelligence to back its yet unproven claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.”

“The president led the nation to war, and spent at least $63 billion on that war, on the basis of these unfounded assertions,” Mr. Kucinich said.

Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he is “a little bit distressed at those screaming of ‘deception.’”

Mr. Goss said his committee would conduct “routine oversight” of the intelligence that led up to the war, and accused the Democrats of playing a game of “gotcha.”

Anyone suggesting the Bush administration acted on “bad faith,” Mr. Goss said, “is not familiar with the way intelligence gathering and analysis works.”

“I have no patience for those pointing the finger at those in the intelligence community,” Mr. Goss said. In fact, his finger points in a different direction entirely — at the Clinton administration.

“It will be on my gravestone,” Mr. Goss said. “We had woefully underfunded intelligence in the mid-‘90s. We did not get an adequate response from the Clinton administration to those concerns, and the result was 9/11.”

Try, try again

A key Republican lawmaker in Texas says he wants the state Legislature to start holding public hearings “as soon as possible” on the prospect of redrawing congressional lines before candidates begin filing for election in November, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

No hearings have been scheduled, but state Rep. Phil King, who drew early versions of the redistricting maps and is a member of the House Redistricting Committee, said that the sooner lawmakers get public comments, the better the chance congressional candidates would have of being able to file for election under the new map.

“My hope is that we’ll begin hearings as soon as possible, so that when and if Gov. [Rick] Perry calls a special session on redistricting, we’ll be ready to go,” Mr. King said.

The push to redraw congressional districts led 51 House Democrats to flee to Oklahoma last month, shutting down legislative business for four days and killing redistricting for the time being.

Mr. Perry can add redistricting to the agenda for an anticipated special session on school finance later this year, but he has not said whether he will.

In what may be the only moment of agreement between the two parties over the issue, U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, a Democrat, wholeheartedly supported the idea of public hearings “all over the state” with “plenty of notice,” the Star-Telegram said.

So long, Mitch

On the last week of his job as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. found himself considering the mantras of one of his colleagues — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

Two of the so-called “Rumsfeld’s Rules” in particular stuck out: “If you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not getting much done.” And “be able to resign.”

Mr. Daniels is resigning as of today, and has found himself often citing the former rule, reporter Jessica Wehrman writes.

Mr. Daniels, who will drive home to Indiana tomorrow, says he is proud of the work he has done.

“When I first got this job, my business friends and others wondered why I would take it,” he said. “I remember saying, ‘It’s the man, the mission and the moment.’”

Mr. Daniels, former senior vice president at Eli Lilly and Co. and a former chief of staff to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, leaves his position to consider running for what may become a second tough job: governor of Indiana.

Mr. Daniels said he will make his decision shortly, but would not elaborate on when. He said he has not had time for politics so far, and federal rules preclude him from actively pursuing political office while he keeps his old job. He said former governors, members of Congress and Cabinet officials are interested in helping him in a potential bid.

Arnold’s decision

Arnold Schwarzenegger, long mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for governor, told Esquire magazine for its July issue: “Yes, I would love to be governor of California. … If the state needs me, and if there’s no one I think is better, then I will run.”

With Democratic Gov. Gray Davis facing a recall campaign that could result in a special gubernatorial election as early as fall, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s political ambitions could be expedited, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is on the cover of the magazine that hits newsstands June 13. A cover line reads: “The Next Governor of California. Really.”

But his political adviser, George Gorton, said the statement didn’t represent a change in the Austrian-born actor’s thinking.

“The bottom line fact is, he hasn’t decided whether he’s going to run or not if the recall qualifies, and he’s so terribly busy right now,” Mr. Gorton said.

He said the 55-year-old actor will decide whether to run after the July 2 opening of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” and only if it becomes clear the recall will qualify for the ballot. Supporters must collect nearly 900,000 valid signatures to make that happen.

Mr. Gorton confirmed Mr. Schwarzenegger has been having discussions with political insiders and potential supporters.

Union backs Gephardt

Democratic presidential candidate Richard A. Gephardt has picked up another union endorsement — this one from the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

The union, with about 50,000 members, represents workers who build and maintain tracks, bridges, buildings and other structures on railroads in the United States and Canada.

The union endorsement, announced yesterday, is Mr. Gephardt’s third, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Gephardt also has won support from the 135,000-member Iron Workers union and the 100,000-member International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

The AFL-CIO has asked its member unions to refrain from endorsing candidates until the federation decides later this year if it can unite behind one Democrat.

Mr. Gephardt, a longtime ally of organized labor, has been working hard to secure union support, a critical constituency for Democratic candidates.

New line of work

America’s foremost liberal critic of the media “doesn’t do media criticism any more — at least not formally,” Roll Call reports.

Jeff Cohen, founder of the liberal group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “has traded in the critic’s lance for the political operative’s scalpel,” reporter Josh Kurtz writes.

Mr. Cohen has become the paid communications director for Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich’s presidential campaign. The Ohio Democrat is competing to be considered the most liberal of the party’s nine candidates.

“He’s a rare candidate,” Mr. Cohen said. “I would only work for a progressive, solidly ethical candidate.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingontimes.com.

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