Inside Politics

Slowing Nussle

President Bush’s nominee to run the White House budget office, former Republican Rep. Jim Nussle, appears to be a long shot to win confirmation before the Senate’s summer break.

The Senate Budget Committee approved his nomination by a 22-1 vote yesterday, but one committee member,Sen. Bernard Sanders, said he would hold up the nomination. The Vermont independent’s threat of a filibuster is enough to delay action until September at the earliest.

“President Bush is completely out of touch with the economic realities facing working families,” Mr. Sanders said. “He needs a budget director who will make him face the facts, not his fantasies.”

The committee chairman, Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, said that at least one other senator also has placed a procedural block on Mr. Nussle’s nomination, the Associated Press reports.

Edwards vs. Fox

FormerSen. John Edwards criticized Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday for taking more than $20,000 in donations from News Corp. officials, arguing that the company’s Fox News Channel has a right-wing bias and Democrats should avoid it.

Mr. Edwards led the Democratic candidates’ boycott of Fox’s plans to host a Democratic presidential debate. Now he is objecting to News Corp.’s purchase of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. and highlighting the relationships that Mrs. Clinton and other rivals have with the company’s executives.

“The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party,” Mr. Edwards said.

He challenged his rivals to refuse contributions from executives of News Corp. and return any they had already received. The Edwards campaign sent an e-mail to supporters with the subject line “Unfair and Unbalanced,” asking them to donate in support of his stand against the company.

The campaign timed the challenge to come two days before Mr. Edwards, Mrs. Clinton and other candidates are scheduled to appear at a convention of left-wing bloggers, who applauded Mr. Edwards‘ revolt against the Fox-sponsored debate in March.

The Spitzer scandal

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is now traveling the state trying to put a scandal behind him that risks enveloping his administration. It’s going to be a hard task,” Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican majority leader of the New York State Senate, wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

“Here’s what we know, thanks to some enterprising reporting by the New York Post and an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo: Two close advisers to the governor apparently used the New York State Police to carry out a political smear campaign against me by creating documents designed to generate negative press reports about me. And it nearly worked,” Mr. Bruno said.

“Now, with an outline of what really happened made public, there is only one way forward for Mr. Spitzer. He needs to support a full airing of the truth. That support must include publicly testifying under oath, and making advisers available to publicly testify under oath, as part of an independent investigation that should not be limited to a panel of his appointees. It would be best to appoint an independent counsel to look into the issue. …

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