Let the games begin
The 2004 presidential campaign slightly delayed by the prolonged vote-counting in Florida officially got under way yesterday with the first poll of the new season.
The Zogby American Values survey of 392 likely Democratic voters showed Vice President Al Gore with a 36 percent to 18 percent lead over first lady and Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Others receiving support: former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, 7 percent; House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, 5 percent; the Rev. Jesse Jackson, 5 percent; retiring Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, 3 percent; Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, 3 percent; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, 1 percent; and California Gov. Gray Davis, 1 percent.
Nine percent chose other candidates and 13 percent were not sure.
Suppressing the vote
“Some Democrats are in full battle cry over what they claim were coordinated efforts to suppress minority voter turnout in Florida,” the Wall Street Journal observes.
“Not much time is spent on the fact that blacks made up a higher percentage of the vote than their presence in the state’s population or that the Justice Department has yet to come up with evidence of voter suppression,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
“In Florida itself, the head of Democratic Attorney General Bob Butterworth’s office of civil rights, Allison Bethel, said, ‘We haven’t received any hard and fast evidence to suggest that the problems people had in voting was intentional.’
“We write about the political double standard here from time to time, but this one takes the cake: While Democrats flog the ‘voter suppression’ issue in the media, short shrift is given to their own documented hostility to ‘letting every vote count’ when the ballots come from military personnel.
“A federal judge has ordered that hundreds of Florida military ballots challenged and thrown out by Democratic lawyers for not having postmarks must be counted to comply with federal law. More revealing of the Democrats’ real intentions on voter turnout was indicated last week when Senate Democrats quietly strangled a bill to allow polling places to remain open on U.S. military bases.”
The newspaper expressed regret that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, did not “flush into the open” the anonymous Senate Democrats who blocked the bill, which already had passed the House.
Bret D. Schundler, the Republican mayor of Jersey City, N.J., says he is not disturbed that a gubernatorial rival will become acting governor if, as expected, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman is named to head the Environmental Protection Agency in the Bush administration.
State Senate President Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican who has been planning a run for governor next year, is ready to step into Mrs. Whitman’s shoes as soon as she leaves for Washington, as provided for under the state constitution.
Mr. Schundler, who also hopes to win the governorship in November, told the Bergen Record: “I have always thought that George Bush would win the presidency, Governor Whitman would be appointed to something, Don DiFrancesco would become acting governor, and I will beat him [in the Republican primary] in June.”
“One of the last weekends before Election Day, George W. Bush decided to campaign in Florida rather than attend his Harvard Business School 25th reunion. It didn’t take a Harvard MBA to figure out that decision. Yet the training at Harvard will clearly have an impact on how he will perform in his new CEO position.
“In fact, Bush’s big-picture, highly delegative management style reflects much of what he was taught on the south bank of Boston’s Charles River,” free-lance journalist John Solomon writes.
“As someone who went though the same program 16 years later, I think Bush’s Harvard training has made him a better manager and leader. But B-School also may have reinforced some of his natural instincts, which might not be constructive as president. In particular, it is crucial that he find the right balance, delegating prudently without becoming too isolated from the details of governing,” Mr. Solomon said in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times.
“Harvard is viewed by many as a Wall Street finishing school, yet it actually emphasizes general management training with as much focus on qualitative as quantitative skills. After analyzing and debating 1,000 case studies, Harvard graduates leave campus with more process than content. It is a generalist, broad-based education that is easily transferable to government administration.
“In fact, B-School probably has been more useful to Bush in politics than in either the oil or baseball businesses. And its non-ideological, pragmatic approach is well-suited to the contentious political situation Bush now faces.”
Classmates of the president-elect told Mr. Solomon that while Mr. Bush probably ranked in the bottom third of the class academically, he stood out for his self-confidence and leadership.
A familiar story
There’s something fishy about Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge’s explanation for his withdrawal as a candidate for defense secretary in the Bush administration, John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.
“According to a story in the Tuesday edition of the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., Ridge told Dick Cheney in a December 6 telephone conversation that he wouldn’t move to Washington. That’s an unexpected claim, considering the Patriot-News previously had reported this Ridge comment, made that very day: ‘If I’m asked [to become secretary of defense], I’d have to consider it. The answer might be no, but I haven’t been asked yet.’
“Later that week, Ridge spokesman Tim Reeves also kept the door open in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘If Gov. Bush called, [Mr. Ridge] would listen and think about the arguments.’
“This recalls the experience of last summer, after Ridge rather obviously campaigned to become Bush’s running mate,” the writers said. “When it had become apparent there would be no need for the BushRidge.com Web site Karl Rove had registered, Ridge explained that he had pulled his name from consideration weeks earlier.
“He wasn’t content simply to have been one of several candidates up for the job he wanted to the world to know that he had rejected Bush before Bush had rejected him. And now, it seems, he’s playing the same game.”
Paul Bedard, writing in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report, says Republicans figure on picking up “an additional 10 to 15 seats” after redistricting next year.
“Democrats aren’t predicting,” he added.
Mr. Bedard also included the following anecdote “from the small-world file.”
“Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice once attended the University of Denver, where her faculty mentor was Josef Korbel, late father of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. So imagine Albright’s shock when Rice refused to join one of the Democratic campaigns Albright worked on in the 1980s with this retort: ‘It may come as a surprise to you, but I’m a Republican.’ Albright responded: ‘How could you be? We had the same father.’ “
Strange but true
Pundit Fred Barnes, appearing on the Fox News Channel, expressed a viewpoint “you won’t hear elsewhere,” the Media Research Center reports.
“This is kind of a funny Cabinet,” Mr. Barnes said. “You have a secretary of state who opposed, at least in the beginning, Desert Storm. You have a White House chief of staff, Andy Card, who endorsed the Clinton health care plan. And now you have a Treasury secretary who was in favor of the carbon tax that Al Gore wanted and that Bill Clinton wouldn’t even go along with. Strange.”