- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

PENTAGON

Gates faults Burma’s ‘criminal neglect’

SINGAPORE | Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday he will make a decision within “a matter of days” to withdraw Navy ships from the coast of Burma, because “it’s becoming pretty clear the regime is not going to let us help.”

As a result, he said many more people will die, particularly those in areas that can only be reached by helicopters, such as those sitting idle on the U.S. ships.

Asked whether the military junta there is guilty of genocide, Mr. Gates said, “I tend to see genocide more as a purposeful elimination of people. This is more akin, in my view, to criminal neglect.”

Speaking to reporters at the close of an international security conference here, Mr. Gates said the Burmese representative at the forum did not seem interested in speaking with him. But he said “it was interesting to watch as minister after minister described their respective unhappiness at their inability to get assistance in.”

It was particularly pointed, he said, since Chinese officials thanked other countries for the help provided after the earthquake in China.

POLITICS

Domenici backs his protege, Wilson

Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican, has endorsed Rep. Heather A. Wilson as his successor, giving the five-term congresswoman a boost in her Republican primary battle against Rep. Steve Pearce, according to the Crypt blog at www.politico.com.

The primary is Tuesday.

Mr. Domenici had stayed out of the primary, despite the fact that Mrs. Wilson has been his political protege and despite his closer identification with her liberal brand of Republicanism than Mr. Pearce’s conservatism, the Politico said. Mr. Domenici cited the anti-tax Club for Growth’s ad campaign attacking Mrs. Wilson as the impetus for making the public endorsement, saying that “such outside influences should not be used to try to influence the voters of New Mexico.”

Mr. Pearce’s campaign issued a terse statement: “I respect Senator Domenici and look forward to working with him in the future. Our campaign is in good shape, and we are confident of victory on Tuesday.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic Rep. Tom Udall in the general election.

WHITE HOUSE

Bush sets goal for graduates

GREENVILLE, S.C. | President Bush, ignoring faculty members who stood in silent protest of his commencement speech, acknowledged Saturday that when he left college, thinking about how to be a “model citizen” was the furthest thing from his mind.

Yet that was the goal the president set for the 2008 graduating class of Furman University.

“As you move ahead in life, you will find temptations and distractions that can take you off course,” Mr. Bush said. “You might also find that years may pass before you learn some important truths: That who you are is more important than what you have. And that you have responsibilities to your fellow citizens, your country, your family and yourself.”

Scores of Bush supporters lined his motorcade route, and the crowd gave Mr. Bush a warm welcome as he strode into the university stadium for the outdoor commencement ceremony.

But about 15 members of the faculty stood in silent protest during the president’s speech. They wore white T-shirts emblazoned with “We Object” to show their opposition to Mr. Bush’s policies on the Iraq war, global warming and other issues. An additional 31 faculty members were granted “conscientious objector” status.

POLITICS

Clintons attack ‘Vanity Fair’

“The Clinton camp responded [Sunday] to Vanity Fair’s long article on [Bill Clinton] with its own 2,244-word memo, which includes attacks on the magazine’s ‘penchant for libel,’ on editor Graydon Carter, and on writer Todd Purdum and his wife, former Clinton aide Dee Dee Myers,” reports Ben Smith at Politico.com.

“The memo … calls the piece ‘journalism of personal destruction at its worst’ and singles out, among other things, Purdum’s suggestion that Mr. Clinton’s heart surgery changed his personality. Mr. Purdum ‘is not an MD,’ the memo points out.”

The article in the magazine’s July issue says that “old friends and longtime aides are wringing their hands over Bill Clinton´s post-White House escapades, from the dubious (and secretive) business associations to the media blowups that have bruised his wife´s campaign, to the private-jetting around with a skirt-chasing, scandal-tinged posse. Some point to Clinton´s medical traumas; others blame sheer selfishness, and the absence of anyone who can say ‘no.’”

The Clinton team called the article a “tawdry, anonymous quote-filled attack piece.”

“This piece was written by Todd Purdum, who is married to Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary. Purdum’s disclosure of this in the piece does not, as Vanity Fair apparently concluded, remove the obvious conflict of interest. It’s a conflict that would likely not be contemplated at more reputable publications, especially considering that, as a result of this relationship, at least one source’s anonymity was revealed to others,” reads their memo from the Office of President Clinton, which was especially offended that the piece did not go into detail about the humanitarian work of the Clinton Foundation.

WHITE HOUSE

Bush lists items for Congress

President Bush has a to-do list awaiting Congress when lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess.

“I hope members of Congress return rested, because they have a lot of work left on important issues and limited time to get it done,” Mr. Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.

On his work list for lawmakers: a war-funding bill, intelligence legislation, veterans benefits, a free-trade pact and giving a nod to Steve Preston, his nominee for housing secretary.

“In all these areas, Congress has failed to act,” Mr. Bush said.

DISTRICT

Thousands mark Israel’s anniversary

Thousands of people celebrated Israel’s 60th anniversary at a festival on the National Mall on Sunday.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Embassy of Israel and other groups organized the event, which began at noon and ran through 5 p.m.

The festival featured music, cultural exhibits and other performances. Scheduled headliners included singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, Israeli rock band Mashina and actor Mandy Patinkin.

WHITE HOUSE

President issues June proclamations

President Bush’s proclamations last week included declarations that June would be National Homeownership Month, Black Music Month, Caribbean-American Heritage Month and Great Outdoors Month.

Black music, Caribbean heritage and the great outdoors are all thriving. The housing market … not so much.

From wires dispatches and staff reports

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