- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2000

Psychic analysis

The Democratic National Committee's Web site Thursday declared Texas Gov. George W. Bush a loser in last night's debate.

The only problem: The extensive DNC analysis was posted early in the afternoon, hours before the Republican candidates appeared on the stage in New Hampshire.

Truth on its head

"Unfortunately, the Time magazine columnist who moonlights as our president chose to embrace Moscow's position in describing the savage attack on Chechnya's capital," writes New York Times columnist William Safire.
"Columnist Clinton piously hoped that thousands of civilians would not be killed in what he called [acting Russian President Vladimir] Putin's campaign to 'liberate Grozny.'
"That verb turns truth on its head. It is the Chechens who seek to liberate themselves from Russian rule. The Russian militarists are the ones raining bombs and shells on people who want the same independence as Georgians and Ukrainians. For Clinton to characterize the rape of Grozny as 'liberation' is an abomination."

Cast as a king

Americans yearn for a chief of state (as opposed to a head of government) in the wake of Bill Clinton's spectacular failure in that role, writes Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley. And Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, seems to fit the bill.
"So our sensitive political system has found the one American best cast as king. A hereditary military hero, who proved his personal bravery as a prisoner in Hanoi while Bill Clinton was protesting at Oxford (along with a lot of present-day McCain supporters).
"A man of impeccable bearing, who bears his fate with modesty and good humor, who offers his views with disarming directness. It's hard to imagine anyone else who could better symbolize the best in the national character, or serve as a role model for all Americans. McCain for chief of state."
The problem, Mr. Bartley said, is that Mr. McCain might not do very well in the role of head of government.
"Without in the least denigrating symbolism, some of us believe substance is even more important. Good kings, despite the fame of some of them, are not necessarily good political leaders. The first requirement of a leader is a vision of where you want to go.
"Preparing to be head of government, George W. Bush has assembled a team of leading issue experts and offers a road map of what he would try to do as president. By contrast, Sen. McCain tends to turn each issue into a matter of character. What matters is not policy goals, but personal honor the royal approach."

'Cheap shot' lives on

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, didn't hesitate. He said his campaign flier attacking his rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, was a "cheap shot."
But Mr. McCain's denunciation didn't stop his staff from posting the flier on his Web site and including it in an e-mail to supporters, the Associated Press reports.
The flier in question contrasted the McCain and Bush positions on taxes, Social Security and other issues. Its headline: "McCain's Mature Vision for America's Future vs. Bush's Political Plan for the 2000 Election."
The flier was handed out to reporters Wednesday as Mr. McCain was delivering a speech appealing for a contest free from personal attacks.
Asked about it after the speech, Mr. McCain said the title went too far. "We have occasional lapses," he said. "They shouldn't have put that in. It's a cheap shot."
But the same flier with the same title appeared hours later in an e-mail to McCain supporters and was posted on his Web site Thursday.
Asked why the campaign would post and distribute something the boss had disavowed, spokesman Howard Opinsky said the posting and the e-mail were all part of the initial release.
"It all went out at the same time," he said. And he said there was nothing wrong with keeping it on the Web site. "It's not a concern."

Reviewing the polls

Pollsters have formed a review board to monitor the conduct and reporting of polls as journalists face a flood of political surveys, Internet research and other changes in the world of public opinion.
Andrew Kohut, a veteran pollster and president of the National Council on Public Polls, made the announcement Thursday at a conference on media coverage of polls.
"In an election year when the polls are coming fast and furious, we will have an opportunity to provide responsible and constructive criticism from the polling community," said Mr. Kohut, who is also director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
The members of the review board will be polling veterans Harry O'Neill of Roper Starch Worldwide, Humphrey Taylor of Harris Interactive, and Warren Mitofsky of Mitofsky International, the Associated Press reports.
The board is set up to act as a resource for journalists with questions about polling. The panel also will monitor the conduct and reporting of polls and issue clarifying comment when appropriate.
"Too much of that comment has come from people who have a stake in the results of surveys, rather than a dispassionate commitment to good survey practice," Mr. Kohut said.

Bradley gains in Iowa

Former Sen. Bill Bradley is gaining on Democratic presidential rival Vice President Al Gore in Iowa, a poll of likely caucus attendees showed Thursday.
With less than three weeks to go before the Jan. 24 caucus meetings, Mr. Bradley has closed to within 13 points of Mr. Gore, according to the poll reported in the Des Moines Register. Last summer, the vice president had a 39-point lead.
The poll, conducted for a chain of Midwestern television stations by the PSI research firm of Alexandria, found Mr. Gore's support at 45 percent, while Mr. Bradley scored 32 percent, with the rest undecided.
The survey of 300 likely caucus voters was conducted Monday and Tuesday and has a margin of error of 5.4 percent.
The poll was conducted before Wednesday's debate between the two rivals in New Hampshire. Mr. Bradley and Mr. Gore will square off in debate again Saturday in Iowa.

Fordice snubbed

Mississippi lawmakers have snubbed Gov. Kirk Fordice, barring him from making a final address to the Legislature.
Mr. Fordice, who cannot seek a third term because of term limits, had lashed out at legislators in his 1999 State of the State address amid turmoil over his very public affair with a childhood sweetheart.
A Senate-drawn resolution that would have allowed the Republican to speak to a joint session of the Legislature died Wednesday for lack of action in the House.
"He might ask for forgiveness for some things he's done, or he might give us a good cussing out," said Rep. Charlie Smith, an independent. "I think he deserves respect, whether he's controversial or not."
Some lawmakers said they weren't interested in hearing from Mr. Fordice, who will be replaced Tuesday by Democrat Ronnie Musgrove after a close election that was decided in a historic vote by the legislature.

Trump plans ad blitz

While the major party candidates recover from their nomination fights this spring, Donald Trump plans an advertising blitz on the broadcast networks and cable in five-minute "fireside chats" on universal health care and national-debt reduction, the Associated Press reports.
"The suspense will be gone for the major party candidates and they'll be out of money," Mr. Trump's political strategist, Roger Stone, said yesterday. "Trump, in contrast, will not have to spend anything until April. He could have the stage all to himself."
The billionaire developer is flirting with a presidential bid on the Reform Party ticket.

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