- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clinton ‘menace’

The fuss over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s possible appointment as secretary of state in the Obama administration has gone on for five days - now resembling a dramatic tableau complete with special lighting, sound effects and music.

Does former President Bill Clinton’s involvement in international charities present a conflict of interest? Would hiring his missus neutralize a potential Clinton “menace” for President-elect Barack Obama by the time 2012 rolls around? Will Bill …behave?

Stay tuned. If Mrs. Clinton doesn’t make it, half of the old Clinton White House appears to have been hired anyway.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clinton himself is playing, well, dumb - and virtuous. Mrs. Clinton did not campaign for her formal rival Mr. Obama in the hope of reward.

“We were very glad that he won, and we have a lot of confidence that he could do a good job. But she did not do what she did with the hope or expectation of getting any kind of job offer, much less having this discussed,” Mr. Clinton told MSNBC on Monday.

“She loves doing what she’s doing. But if he decided to ask her to do it, and they did it together, I think she’d be really great at being secretary of state. But I have no earthly idea what is going to happen,” he said. “If I did have any idea, I wouldn’t tell you.”

Margin of terror

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed he’ll close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, which currently holds about 250 die-hard al Qaeda supporters.

The world would love it - but former detainees could go back to their old ways, suggests Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph.

“The only alternative to holding them at Gitmo would be to bring them under America’s civilian judicial system, where many of them would most likely be freed through lack of evidence,” he writes.

“Civil rights campaigners would no doubt applaud this development, but what if some of those released then went on to commit further acts of terrorism? There have already been suggestions that former Gitmo detainees have carried out terror attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq after being released from Gitmo. What if one of those released by President Obama then masterminded a repeat of the 9/11 attacks?”

“Let’s not forget that al Qaeda emerged as a global terror threat when Bill Clinton was president, and Obama should take care that the return of a Democrat to the White House does not result in the U.S. taking the soft options in fighting the war on terror.”

Penalty box

Americans still “hold firm” in their support of the death penalty, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday: Sixty-four percent favor it, 30 percent oppose it. Half say it is not imposed enough, 23 percent say it is imposed “the right amount” of time, and 21 percent say “too often.”

Among Republicans, 78 percent favor the death penalty, compared with 52 percent of Democrats.

The survey of 1,011 adults was conducted Oct. 3-5, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

The highest individual measure of public support for the death penalty in Gallup’s records is 80 percent, recorded 14 years ago in September 1994.

That’s a plan

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter Monday to the Treasury Department requesting that it give him the $700 billion appropriated by Congress for the economic-rescue plan.

Mr. Norquist, an influential inside-the-Beltway figure, said he would use the money to implement a set of tax cuts, blogs The Washington Times reporter Jon Ward.

“I write today to formally request $700 billion from the TARP Capital Purchase Program. Since unionized auto companies, state and local governments, and certain credit card companies are applying, I thought I should, as well,” Mr. Norquist wrote to Neel Kashkari, the Treasury official overseeing the enormous fund.

Mr. Norquist said he had downloaded a two-page application form to request funds from the Treasury Web site, treas.gov.

“I have a plan for this $700 billion, which should be just what’s needed to get the American economy going. Since the money came from the taxpayers in the first place, I propose giving it back to them,” Mr. Norquist said.

Roving Rove

A small aside in a New York Times interview Sunday: former White House adviser Karl Rove, on Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., that could explain all:

“He has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.”

Ron run

Paulites, heads up. Rep. Ron Paul is open to running again for president four years from now. The Texas Republican has yet to give up on the White House.

We’ll know in six months whether Mr. Paul will throw his Steson in the ring again.

“He hasn’t closed out the idea of another run,” spokesman Jesse Benton told Reason magazine. “We have some time to decide whether he runs again, or whether he gets behind somebody else. But we don’t have tons of time. By the middle of 2009, the decision needs to be made.”

Mr. Paul raised $34.5 million for his campaign this year, besting Republican rivals Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee, Pt. 2

And speaking of Mike Huckabee, his sixth book “Do the Right Thing” hits bookstore shelves Tuesday. But it is more than a campaign memoir, he says.

“It’s a vision for a smarter, fairer type of politics - ‘vertical politics’ - that focuses on common-sense solutions for education, health care, the economy, and many other issues. It’s not about right versus left; it’s about taking America up, rather than down,” Mr. Huckabee explains.

Aw-w-w.

He’s convinced that the Republican Party is not a dithering, withering has-been.

The Republican Party “can heal its divisions - between social and fiscal conservatives, the wealthy and the middle class, the religious and the secular - and become a true majority party again.”

Mr. Huckabee will tour the country beginning Dec. 1; there’s a “Do the Right Thing” bus, and naturally, a Vertical Politics Institute that addresses tax reform, energy independence, health care reform, the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, among other things.(www/verticalpoliticsinstitute.com).

Screen gems

President-elect Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes” drew more than 24 million viewers - the largest audience the show has had in nine years. In comparison, 14 million tuned in to watch Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in October to offer an in-person counterpoint to Tina’s Fey’s impression of the one-time vice-presidential hopeful. That night marked the highest ratings for “SNL” in 14 years.

• E-mail Jennifer Harper or 202/636-3085.