- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Not the first time

The New York Times’ attempt to get a former high-ranking Republican congressman to write a commentary critical of the current U.S. House majority leader is not the first time the newspaper has sought to create dissension among Republicans, Marc Morano reports at www.CNSNews.com.

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger had a similar opportunity presented to him by the Times in 2003, but he turned down the chance to write a commentary criticizing President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

The newspaper’s recent effort was directed at former Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston, who was asked to write a column critical of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

Mr. Eagleburger told Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes” on April 2, 2003, that there “are some who want this administration to look bad. ”

“I was approached by the New York Times to write an op-ed piece. To make it very short, when I talked to them about it, I was told what we want is criticism of the administration. Right out. Flat out. told me we want criticism of the administration. Needless to say, I did not write the op-ed piece,” Mr. Eagleburger said.

Sharpton probed

The Rev. Al Sharpton said yesterday that he complied with campaign-finance laws while he was a presidential candidate, despite reports that federal authorities had opened a criminal probe of fundraising related to the campaign.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing unidentified sources, reported Monday that the FBI in New York had begun investigating Mr. Sharpton’s fundraising as a spinoff of an unrelated criminal probe involving city officials and businessmen in Philadelphia.

It did not specify the exact nature of the Sharpton probe, the existence of which was first reported in the Philadelphia Daily News on April 5.

“Nobody has come to me to ask about this report of funds, and this is almost two years later,” Mr. Sharpton told the Associated Press.

The FBI declined to comment.

During the Philadelphia corruption investigation, local Democratic fundraiser Ronald A. White and Detroit businessman La-Van Hawkins reportedly were wiretapped having a conversation in which Mr. Hawkins expressed suspicions that Mr. Sharpton had failed to report money they had raised for his campaign.

Mr. Sharpton’s campaign reports, however, do list many checks collected by the pair, and Mr. Sharpton told the AP that “everything given was reported.”

Gay bashing?

Former President Bill Clinton lashed out Monday at a homosexual political operative who plans an ad campaign against his wife, saying the Republican may be “self-loathing.”

Arthur Finkelstein, a Republican strategist who has worked for New York Gov. George E. Pataki and former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, reportedly is setting up a political action committee that will run ads against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, when she seeks re-election in 2006.

“I was kind of sad when I read it,” Mr. Clinton said at a news conference in his Harlem office to announce an AIDS initiative by the Clinton Foundation.

After noting reports over the weekend that Mr. Finkelstein had “married” his male partner in a civil ceremony at his Massachusetts home, Mr. Clinton made reference to the Bush administration’s opposition to homosexual “marriage.”

“Either this guy believes his party is not serious and he’s totally Machiavellian,” Mr. Clinton said, or “he may be blinded by self-loathing.”

A friend of Mr. Finkelstein’s expressed anger over Mr. Clinton’s remarks.

“It’s really beneath a former president to comment on someone’s personal life,” Michael McKeon, a Republican strategist, told the New York Times. “After everything has been through in his own life, you’d think he’d know better.”

Popular support

More than three-quarters of those polled by the Gallup Organization approved of the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, United Press International reports.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case in which it was argued placing a monument to the Ten Commandants on the grounds of the Texas Capitol in Austin violated the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion. A decision is expected this summer.

But Gallup yesterday found 76 percent of people asked said the Texas state government should be allowed to leave the monument where it is, while 21 percent said it should not.

Looking back

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s first memory is of buying a pair of shoes at a Georgia shop, shortly after being told that he would be able to walk after all.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the government’s approval of a vaccine for polio, Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, took time on the Senate floor yesterday to describe being struck by the disease when he was 2 years old, the Associated Press reports.

Though he was better off than many victims of polio, which can cause severe muscle damage, paralysis and death, the Kentucky Republican said the quadriceps muscle of his left leg was affected.

With his father fighting overseas in World War II, Mr. McConnell said his family was living with relatives in Alabama. They were about 50 miles from Warm Springs, Ga., where President Franklin D. Roosevelt had established a polio treatment center.

After driving him to the center to learn how to coach his leg back to life, Mr. McConnell’s mother spent the next two years working him through daily physical therapy, the senator said.

“This example of incredible discipline that she was teaching me during this period, I always felt, had an impact on the rest of my life,” he said.

Mr. McConnell said he had a normal childhood, but he still has some trouble walking down stairs, a constant reminder of the disease.

Feingold’s divorce

Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, touted as a potential 2008 presidential candidate, is divorcing from his wife of 14 years, he said in a statement.

The 52-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer was re-elected easily to a third term in November.

The divorce would be the second for both Mr. Feingold, 52, and Mary Feingold, 47. Each has two children from their first marriages.

Mr. Feingold’s office said the couple “were separating amicably and intended to remain very good friends.”

Bush’s numbers

President Bush’s job-approval rating has moved back to 50 percent two weeks after hitting a low of 45 percent in the Gallup poll.

The latest poll, released yesterday, was taken April 4-7. It involved 1,010 adults.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpiercewashingtontimes.com.

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