- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

Happy retirement

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor for The Washington Post, has apparently embraced retirement, even though he took a couple of hours off yesterday to attend the American Society of Newspaper Editors gathering at the JW Marriott.

Asked what he thought of President Bush's handling of the China incident, Mr. Bradlee told The Washington Times: "Oh, what the hell do I care? I mean, what the hell do you care about it?"

The interview ended abruptly when Mr. Bradlee saw a pretty young woman he knew and said loudly: "Where the hell have you been?"

A judgeship for Cox?

Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, is likely to be nominated for a federal judgeship, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Washington sources said the FBI had begun the standard background check for judicial nominees on Cox, with one adding that his nomination was a 'done deal,' " reporters Henry Weinstein and Faye Fiore write.

Mr. Cox is being considered for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco. It is the nation's largest appeals court, with jurisdiction over nine Western states, including California.

"Cox's departure would leave open his congressional seat, which GOP leaders were confident would remain Republican if a special election were held. 'That seat is as Republican as they come,' said one senior aide.

"A senior Republican House aide said that one possible candidate to fill that post should Cox be named to the bench is former Republican Rep. James Rogan, who lost his seat to Adam Schiff last November in the increasingly Democratic Glendale district and is currently living in the Washington, D.C., area."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, has been notified that Mr. Cox is being considered for a judgeship, the reporters said.

Mrs. Boxer, one of the most liberal senators, told the newspaper she is surprised that President Bush would consider someone "so far outside the mainstream."

Beijing's blunder

"The welcome news is how the Chinese leadership is inflicting great damage on its strategic purposes," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

"Its uncoordinated overreaction to the [aircraft] accident especially its foolish demand that the U.S. grovel is a gift to geopolitical realists here and a blow to softie Sinologists and amoral business interests," Mr. Safire said.

"For China to buy a change in America's trade policy with illegal campaign contributions may be troubling. For China to snatch our academics and put them on show trials for espionage may be dismaying. For China to acquire our secret technology from greedy American executives and friendly scientists may be distressing. But for China to hold prisoner two dozen American servicemen and -women to extract our apology for its own reckless wrongdoing that's infuriating.

"And hell hath no fury like a Congress double-crossed. Those on the Hill who ignored human rights and buckled to corporate-Clinton pressure now mutter about rescinding their giveaway of trade restraints. Those who closed their eyes to the missile buildup now threatening Taiwan are opening them to the need for selling that Democratic ally our Aegis antimissile system.

"Beijing will soon awaken to its blunder. Our 'explanation' and 'regret' will lead to its release of our detainees or internees (never say hostages or prisoners). Too late; the tide of political opinion may be turning."

Tough assignment

"Be careful what you wish for you may get it. A college buddy of President Bush is in line to be the next U.S. ambassador to China, which is looming as the ultimate hot potato of international assignments," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"He's Hong Kong-based lawyer Clark 'Sandy' Randt Jr., a partner at Shearman & Sterling, who lived down the hall from Bush in their Yale days in the 1960s and was a Bush 2000 fund-raiser," Miss Orin said.

"Randt, who has lived in the region for 20 years and worked at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the early 1980s, has a doctorate and is said to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. He's also said to be 'sharp as nails.'

"Current envoy Joseph Prueher, a retired Navy admiral, is a Clinton pick who was asked to stay on for a bit prior to the crisis. Sources say Team Bush has been quite generous in letting envoys, who are political picks, stay on in one case, so kids could finish the school year."

No more kowtowing

"So Chinese President Jiang Zemin wants an American apology because one of his supersonic jets knocked down a lumbering U.S. spy plane over international waters. This is the kind of kowtow China has come to expect from the Clinton administration, which is why President Bush needs to send precisely the opposite message," the Wall Street Journal says.

"As these columns have long argued, U.S. China policy should combine diplomatic and military firmness with openness on trade. The goal is to promote a Chinese evolution to a more open, democratic society. China's unelected communist rulers have only two claims to legitimacy nationalism and economic growth. The U.S. needs to promote the latter, which over time will foster more political openness while raising the costs of the former when it spills across Chinese borders," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"The Clinton crowd never could figure out this policy balance. From its earliest days, it preferred the kowtow. China rolled up dissidents while Warren Christopher was visiting Beijing, but paid no diplomatic price. It sold technology far and wide, to no visible sanction. Bill Clinton even unilaterally conceded to China's 'three Nos' policy toward Taiwan. Throw in the Lippo Group/Riadys, Charlie Trie and Chinese campaign money; no wonder the Chinese concluded that American policy could be bought… .

"The Chinese learned they could push around a U.S. led by Bill Clinton. Now they are trying to find out if they can do the same to George W. Bush. A two-track policy of economic engagement and military toughness won't be easy for the new president to follow. But it's the only China policy with a hope of keeping both international order and American consensus."

Taxing logic

A group of black (and almost entirely Democratic) business leaders led by Robert L. Johnson, chairman of Black Entertainment Television took out newspaper ads this week to support President Bush's proposed repeal of the estate tax.

Said the ad: "The estate tax is particularly unfair to the first generation of high net worth African-Americans who have accumulated wealth only recently. These individuals may have family members and relatives who have not been as fortunate in accumulating assets who could directly benefit from their share of an estate as an heir."

However, Dalton Conley, director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University and author of "Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in America," countered that argument yesterday, saying the estate tax makes sense because it hurts white people even more than black people.

"The number of African-American millionaires who would benefit from estate tax repeal is infinitesimally small. Rather, repeal would provide a windfall for the wealthiest whites in America and would only exacerbate the black-white 'equity inequity.' " Mr. Dalton said.

Getting drilled

"Last week, I was watching CNN's broadcast of Bush's press conference," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

"As the president was answering a question on [oil] drilling in the Arctic, CNN split its screen, showing Bush on the left and dramatic scenes of the Arctic (and its wildlife) on the right. That's the kind of coverage the president can expect when he pushes drilling and it's the kind of coverage that will damage him among moderate Republicans and ticket splitters. (It's also the kind of editorializing that drove many CNN viewers to Fox.)"

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