- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

A man without friends
"When writing a story about a politician, it is standard practice to solicit quotes from the politicians friends," Jason Zengerle writes in the New Republic.
"This is usually quite easy to do — unless, of course, that politician has no friends. When I told New Jersey Senator Bob Torricellis press secretary, Debra DeShong, that I was doing a story on her boss relationship with his fellow Democrats, she said Torricelli himself wouldnt grant me an interview. But she did suggest I talk to four other senators who, she said, would be more than happy to sing Torricellis praises: Tom Daschle, Jon Corzine, Ben Nelson, and Debbie Stabenow," Mr. Zengerle said.
"I called all four — telling their press secretaries the reason for and genesis of my call — and waited for them to call me back. A few days later, I mentioned to another Torricelli aide that I hadnt heard from any of them. 'You havent? he said, a hint of nervousness creeping into his voice. He put me on hold and came back a few minutes later, pledging to follow up with some of the original four and suggesting three additional senators: John Breaux, Patty Murray, and Maria Cantwell. I made three more calls and waited for them to be returned. Later, when I mentioned to a third person in the Torricelli orbit that I hadnt heard back from any of the seven senators Id called at Torricellis behest, he was incredulous. '(Torricelli) helped get some of these people elected! Let me make some calls and see what I can do, he said and hustled off the phone."
Mr. Zengerle said there is an explanation "for the silence greeting Torricellis plight: many of his fellow Democrats just dont like him — and they never have. For years they have scorned him as brash, arrogant, sleazy. They may have realized that those qualities would be useful as the head of the (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), but while Torricelli took the position thinking it would bring him respectability and power within the Senate club, it has done no such thing. It hasnt even brought him a defense from party elders in his hour of need. Bob Torricelli, who has made a career of using others, has finally been used himself."


Gingrichs prescription

"As analysts dissect President Bushs first hundred days, the most important thing to remember is that he and his administration are different from what Washington has become used to," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich writes.
"Because Mr. Bush works in a disciplined way to implement a broad strategy, he has been able to set the stage calmly and methodically for a potentially far-reaching performance," the Georgia Republican said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
"Not insignificantly, the biggest changes in Washington have been cultural rather than political: The atmosphere is more businesslike, and dialogue across party lines is calmer. President Bush has already been able to change the tone dramatically, even after the 35-day, often toxic fight over the election. He has been friendly, flexible, open and very conservative — though no reporter seems capable of typing those four adjectives in one sentence. Mr. Bush is willing to delegate important initiatives and decisions and give credit to others. …
"The last Republican president to transform the country and his party in prosperous and peaceful times was Theodore Roosevelt. He did so knowing the difference between managerial politics and transformational politics. He knew that managing Washington was a minimalist approach. He focused on rallying the country to impose on Washington changes that reactionaries in both parties vehemently opposed.
"A transformational presidency has to convince the American people that it is in their best interest to implement its plans. Unless the Bush administration can do this, it will be very hard to get Congress to make transformational changes. The morning the president convinces his party and the country that his goals are decisive in their lives and that they have to join him in insisting that Washington implement them, he will have begun to transform the system."


High-stakes decision

"In the ongoing war between Tom Daschle and George W. Bush, John Thune is D-Day, as in Dakota," Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot writes.
"Mr. Thune is the popular GOP congressman from the Senate Democratic leaders state of South Dakota. But hes also the best, and maybe the only, GOP hope to defeat Democratic Senate freshman Tim Johnson next year in a state that Mr. Bush carried by 23 points. Private GOP polls have Mr. Thune ahead if he does run for Senate," Mr. Gigot said.
"So the president had the 40-year-old and his wife over for dinner (April 19) to talk about it. Hows that for pressure? Mr. Thune says about his looming career choice that hes always wanted to be governor because 'the states are where the action is. But 'the president expressed his frustration with the level of partisanship in the Senate, and stressed how much a single vote can help achieve historic change.
"'What makes it so hard is the stakes, he adds."


No need for lunch

Brit Hume, managing editor of Fox News, described a full-page cartoon in the New Yorker magazine as a prelude to a question for Vice President Richard B. Cheney yesterday.
The drawing shows Mr. Cheney. "And apart from the fact that it doesnt really look like you, the notable thing is that there is this little chap sitting on your lap with a 10-gallon hat covering his face, who obviously is intended to be the president, representative of the idea that there is this picture of the president, Mr. Bush, and the real president, the real power, you. What do you say to that?" Mr. Hume asked.
"Well, thats silly," Mr. Cheney replied. "The fact of the matter is the president is very much in charge of the show. Anything I do is because he specifically directs me to do it. He makes all the key decisions.
"Its also a mistake to assume that Im the only, quote, 'influential person around. He has really put together a first-rate staff in the White House. We have some great people there who are heavily involved from Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Josh Bolten, Andy Card. I mean its a first-class group of people, and its entirely the presidents operation and all of us support him."
However, on a follow-up question, Mr. Cheney did say that he has no need for the traditional weekly lunch that other vice presidents had with their bosses, because he sees Mr. Bush several times a day.
"Now, we work very closely together, but hes very much the CEO of the operation. He runs the show, and I do whatever he wants me to do," Mr. Cheney said.


Looking like extremists

The vehement opposition among some congressional Democrats to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would make it a crime to harm not only a pregnant woman but also her fetus, led ABCs Cokie Roberts to make the following prediction on "This Week":
"I think there will probably be a filibuster in the Senate put on by the Democrats and it will be hard to get the votes and it will make the Democrats look like extremists on this issue," she said.
The legislation passed the House despite an outcry from the pro-abortion wing of the Democratic Party.


CNN vs. Fox

"CNN execs, worried that they look too liberal, are making overtures to congressional conservatives who have blackballed the network," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"Several say the network has practically begged them to come on, but they counter that theyd rather go on Fox, which gives more airtime to conservatives. A sign of the times: Sean Hannity, the right-leaning half of the Fox shouting match 'Hannity & Colmes, was invited to attend a recent House Republican Conference meeting, normally closed to the media. He got 'thunderous applause, says a GOP leadership aide."


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