- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2001

President Bush says he brought a new tone of civility to Washington, but Democrats yesterday offered a harsh review of his first 100 days, accusing him of imperiling women, children and workers in favor of big business.
"This is not compassionate conservatism," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, still calling into question the legitimacy of Mr. Bushs presidency. "This is leaving no special interest behind, and it must not stand."
Republican lawmakers dismissed the criticism as the frustrations of a minority party, compounded by Mr. Bushs 63 percent approval rating.
"Theyre searching for a bogeyman, and theyre not finding one in the president," said Rep. Steve Largent, Oklahoma Republican. "The untold story is the disarray and confusion and lack of leadership among the Democrats."
A new president traditionally enjoys a "honeymoon" in the first 100 days, although Democrats abandoned such pretenses weeks ago when they blamed Mr. Bush for spoiling the Clinton administrations prosperity.
And yesterday Democratic lawmakers denounced Mr. Bush in language that at times sounded like the opening of a new presidential campaign.
Mr. Gephardt, the subject of recent speculation about his own presidential hopes in 2004, said he expected Mr. Bush to compromise more with Democrats because the presidential election was "essentially a tie."
"We thought a new tenor was coming to Washington," Mr. Gephardt said. "But the uniter has not yet appeared. He appointed the most far right, anti-woman, anti-environment, wealthiest and best-connected Cabinet in a generation. It is my way or the highway every day."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle criticized Mr. Bush for signing a bill that repealed last-minute workplace regulations approved by Mr. Clinton, for going back on a campaign pledge to reduce industrial carbon dioxide emissions and for voiding Clinton-era standards for arsenic in drinking water.
"These first 100 days gives us real concern about the next 1,360," Mr. Daschle said. "This White House has been moving backwards so quickly, theyve managed to look progressive when they decide to stand still."
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said Mr. Bush has strived for civility and bipartisanship in his first 100 days.
"Hes changed the tone … and its not easy to do that," Mr. Lott said. "Hes working with Democrats on education, working to try to come to agreements on the budget resolution. But I think hes finding also, the Congress is very prickly, very difficult to forecast, a lot of different agendas."
Mr. Daschle criticized Republicans for "punishing" Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, who voted against the administrations $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan and frequently votes with Democrats. Senate Republican leaders reportedly plan to deny Mr. Chafee a seat on a House-Senate conference committee if his environmental cleanup bill, approved this week in the Senate, requires such action.
"Let me say to Senator Chafee and anyone else who cares to know, if he is denied a position on that conference report, I will give him one," Mr. Daschle said.
Mr. Lott said of Mr. Chafee, "Im disappointed in his conduct and his votes. You put people on conference from the top of your committees, and junior members (like Mr. Chafee) dont usually get on them."
But Republicans also said there may be no need for a conference committee. The House has yet to act on the legislation.
The Democrats anti-Bush rally on the Capitol lawn was broadcast live by CNN. Mr. Gephardt gave the air of a stump speech as he criticized the presidents policies, jabbing a finger for emphasis.
"This administration, in 100 days, has been mostly about PR and slogans and trying to create the impression that they are for moderate policies while the reality is hard-right, hard-right wing, extreme policies coming out every day," he said.
But Mr. Largent said, "In the seven years Ive been in Congress, Ive never seen the Democrats in such disarray. Nothing they can say is sticking. The spirit in which (Mr. Bush) is conducting himself really doesnt give them much to shoot at."
* George Archibald contributed to this report.

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