- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Slew of Clintonites

If anyone had any doubt that Wesley Clark is the choice of the Democratic Party’s Clinton establishment, it should have been dispelled by Mr. Clark’s announcement yesterday about Friends of Bill (FOBs) coming to New Hampshire to campaign for him.

Mr. Clark announced “the arrival in New Hampshire of nearly a dozen prominent FOBs who will stump for him in the campaign’s closing days,” CNN political editor John Mercurio wrote yesterday in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com.

Among the FOBs campaigning for Mr. Clark, according to CNN, are former Sens. David Pryor and Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, longtime Clinton friend Skip Rutherford, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, U.S. Civil Rights Commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, former Navy Secretary John Dalton, former State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin and former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor.

“All of these folks have previously signed onto the Clark campaign. But Clark is bringing them to New Hampshire to further link himself with the steadfastly neutral former president.”

Liberal nightmare

Some organizers of ceremonies in Atlanta celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King are furious that President Bush will travel to the city tomorrow to honor the civil rights leader.

The Rev. James Orange, a civil rights activist and member of the Martin Luther King March Committee, said, “We disagree with the way the office of the presidency is doing black people and we can’t let Bush and Condoleezza Rice come here and ride the coattails of Martin Luther King.”

Democratic state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, another organizer of King events, who along with Mr. Orange spoke yesterday at a meeting of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda at the Atlanta Life Building on Auburn Avenue, said, “Our position is that the president is prostituting the legacy of Dr. King by bringing his campaign here. His economic and political policies are leading to the destruction of the dream. We see this as hypocrisy. This is about President Bush’s campaign; it is not about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The comments come as the Secret Service asked MLK organizers to cooperate with them as Mr. Bush visits the King Center to lay a wreath at the tomb of the slain civil rights leader during tomorrow’s Human Rights Conference and Immigration Symposium, Buddy Grizzard reports at www.reddingnewsreview.com.

Rumsfeld vs. O’Neill

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday disputed an assertion from a longtime friend, former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill, that President Bush is detached at Cabinet meetings.

Mr. O’Neill, whom President Bush fired in December 2002, says in a new book that the president is “like a blind man in a room full of deaf people.”

Yesterday, Mr. O’Neill retracted the statement he made to author Ron Suskind in “The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill.”

Mr. Rumsfeld, who served in the Ford administration with Mr. O’Neill and has maintained a friendship for more than 30 years, said the “blind man” analogy is way off base.

“I certainly don’t see validity to his criticism of the president at all,” Mr. Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference. “My experience with the president is totally to the contrary and I have enormous respect for President Bush. And my experience is extensive. It is in good times and difficult times. It’s in times of good humor and times of great stress in a conflict, a war. And I really feel fortunate to be working with a man of his character and his ability.”

Barbour’s pledge

Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was sworn in yesterday as Mississippi’s 63rd governor and pledged to make jobs and unity priorities of his administration.

Mr. Barbour defeated Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat, in November. He is only the second Republican to hold the governor’s office since post-Civil War Reconstruction.

He took the oath of office on the Capitol’s south steps in Jackson as thousands of people watched.

“This is the moment to lift our horizons for Mississippi,” Mr. Barbour said in his speech.

“I envision a Mississippi of growth, hope and prosperity, a state that not only produces more and better paying jobs for our working people, but a home that raises up the prospects of all our people and elevates our respect for all our people,” he said.

At a prayer breakfast, Mr. Barbour promised his administration will unify the state.

“We can’t do better unless we all do better together,” said Mr. Barbour, 56. “We can’t leave out any part of the state. We can’t leave out any group of people because of their race or their religion or their ethnicity or their politics.”

Franken inks deal

Backers of a proposed liberal talk radio network don’t yet have a name or a starting date for their project. But they do have comedian Al Franken.

Progress Media has reached an agreement with Mr. Franken — a former writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live” — to host a three-hour daily broadcast that would anchor the network’s schedule, sources told the Associated Press.

In an interview with AP, Mr. Franken said the format of the show was still evolving, but he said he was certain that it wouldn’t be like the format of Rush Limbaugh, the conservative who hosts the No. 1 show in talk radio.

“He has no [guests] on the show but it’s confrontation,” Mr. Franken said. “His show is just him railing for three hours.”

Mr. Franken said he planned to use a mix of interviews, calls from listeners and scripted comedy. He said he planned to have a co-host with long experience in radio, but he said that role had not been finalized.

Mr. Franken had long been rumored to be interested in a deal with Progress Media, the startup company that plans to challenge the conservative dominance of talk radio.

In November, an investment group led by Mark Walsh, a former America Online executive and adviser to the Democratic National Committee, bought the company from venture capitalists Sheldon and Anita Drobny.

McKinney’s rematch

Former Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, will run again, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The newspaper quoted her father, former state Rep. Billy McKinney, as saying she wants a rematch against Rep. Denise L. Majette, who defeated her in the Democratic primary in 2002.

Billy McKinney said his daughter had turned down an invitation to run for president by the Green Party, calling it “just too way out for Cynthia.”

He said her opposition to the Iraq war, the Bush administration’s Middle East policy and concern about intelligence failures before the September 11 terrorist attacks will put her back in office, United Press International reports.

“Everything Cynthia has said has proven to be true,” Mr. McKinney said.

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

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