- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Gore vs. Spice Girls

The Gore campaign was quick to jump on George W. Bush yesterday when an open microphone picked up the Republican presidential nominee making less than complimentary remarks about a reporter for the New York Times. So it is ironic that the latest issue of Brill's Content reports that Mr. Gore's supporters have targeted three female reporters for criticism.

The trio, known as the "Spice Girls," are Katharine Seelye of the New York Times, Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post and Sandra Sobieraj of the Associated Press. Friends of Mr. Gore have described them as "nasty, snide, caustic, bitter, and biased," reporter Seth Mnookin writes, although others say the Gore campaign is just uncomfortable around strong women.

Sniveling whiners

"The difference between the presidential candidates is not, as Ralph Nader claims, between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. As the strategy of calculated whining has been adopted by both campaigns, the main difference is between Namby and Pamby," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"In each party's Peace Room, the sign reads, 'It's the mean-spiritedness, stupid.' Skilled counter-whiners run to media mamas sobbing, 'That big bully hit me, and he promised he wouldn't!' " Mr. Safire said.

"… What is the reason for the orchestrated adoption by both parties of the childish, nasalized peevishness? The whining manipulation is driven by the universal opinion of pollsters that most women voters are tender flowers who cannot bear any expression on a candidate's face other than earnest concern for their children. Nobody can stand the heat, say the focus groupies, so get out of the kitchen just as all those women voters did.

"Because negativity is the supreme no-no, politicians are persuaded that sunniness is next to godliness and outrage is outre. That's why Bush is told to point with pride but rarely to view with alarm. When Bush transgresses by criticizing the hollowed-out state of our national defense, he risks the withering whining of Gore about running down our brave men and women in uniform."

Cuomo locked out

New York Gov. George Pataki and his aides are working to keep federal housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo from speaking at a six-day international conference in Rochester to commemorate the Erie Canal's 175th anniversary, the New York Post's Fredric U. Dicker writes, citing sources close to Mr. Cuomo.

"We have, in effect, been banned from the proceedings," an anonymous Cuomo aide told the newsman.

Mr. Cuomo's agency has forwarded $400 million in grants and loans into communities along the canal corridor over the past three years. The son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo is said to be considering a run for governor against Mr. Pataki in 2002. It was Mr. Pataki, a Republican, who ousted the elder Cuomo from office.

The conference begins Sunday.

"Pataki won a major battle against the younger Cuomo last year when, with the help of GOP allies in Congress, he wrested control of $60 million in canal-related block-grant funding away from Cuomo and HUD," Mr. Dicker said.

Embracing Clinton

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman, famous for going onto the Senate floor to rebuke President Clinton for his randy behavior, is singing Mr. Clinton's praises these days.

"The candidate praises President Clinton's 'extraordinary record,' crediting the president for the muscular economy. He tells audiences that Mr. Clinton has fought crime. He reminds people that he has been the president's friend for 30 years," New York Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena writes.

The reporter added: "Mr. Clinton has hardly been a centerpiece of the senator's pitch, but in the weeks since his nomination, it has been clear that Mr. Lieberman feels far freer than Mr. Gore to embrace the president and claim bragging rights to the achievements of his administration."

Gore's school dogma

The New Republic strongly supports Al Gore's run for the presidency after all, Martin Peretz, the owner and editor-in-chief, is a former college instructor and longtime friend of the vice president. But the magazine says Mr. Gore is wrong to oppose school vouchers.

"When Al Gore chose Joe Lieberman to be his running mate, Democrats praised the Connecticut senator's bipartisanship. And then they rushed to suppress its every manifestation. On school vouchers in particular, Lieberman, facing a barrage of friendly fire, has beaten a hasty retreat. 'If you ask me personally, I'm still for a test of vouchers,' Lieberman confessed to CNN on Aug. 13. 'But I understand how this works when you are vice president.' We understand, too when the presidential candidate says, 'Our administration will be opposed to private school vouchers,' the vice presidential candidate keeps his mouth shut. Too bad. Because, in this case, the presidential candidate is wrong and the vice presidential candidate is right," the magazine said in an editorial.

"This magazine supports vouchers for empirical reasons, not ideological ones. Many on the right believed in 'school choice' years ago, before its efficacy had ever been tested, for the same reason they believe in privatizing the post office because the free market is supposedly always preferable to government control… .

"But it has been painfully obvious that conservatives are not the only ones who care more about dogma than about vouchers' actual effects on children's lives," the magazine said, citing the adamant opposition of teachers' unions.

"We do not fully know whether vouchers will work. But the Democratic Party must no longer be afraid to find out."

Job killers

On Labor Day weekend, with Al Gore due for a campaign stop in Flint, Mich., Gov. John Engler and the Republican National Committee (RNC) could not pass up a chance to remind voters that the Clinton-Gore administration had killed the city's chances for 200 high-paying manufacturing jobs.

Two years ago, Select Steel proposed to build a new $175 million steel mill in Flint. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised objections that ultimately led the company to build elsewhere.

"The EPA later admitted there was no basis for its action," the Republicans said in a prepared statement.

"While we have labored to put Michigan families back to work, the reckless and ill-defined policies of the Clinton-Gore administration have impeded our efforts," Gov. Engler said.

The RNC even quoted Democratic Rep. James Barcia as telling the Detroit News at the time, "Whenever the EPA has a chance to stop development in Michigan, they take it."

Wayward Republicans

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies has taken action to revoke the charter of the Michigan Republican Assembly after the latter's president resigned to run for a U.S. Senate seat on the Reform Party ticket.

To make matters worse, the new president of the Michigan group has become the national committeewoman for the Reform Party, the parent organization said in a prepared statement.

"It is obvious that the leadership of the Michigan Republican Assembly has a greater interest in the creation and building of a political party other than the Republican. Hence it is appropriate to put the Republican Assembly in the hands of Republicans," said Steve Frank, president of the national federation.

Mr. Frank said he had formally apologized to Sen. Spence Abraham, Michigan Republican, who is up for re-election this year.

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies was launched in 1997 as a grass-roots organization designed to advance what the group said were "traditional conservative Republican ideals and candidates."

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