- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

Hillary part of pardon?
The New York Post reports that it has obtained a "bombshell" memo showing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York supported her brother's efforts in lobbying President Clinton to grant a last-minute pardon to drug kingpin Carlos Vignali.
"The handwritten note on White House stationery appears to contradict [Senator] Clinton's repeated claims that she knew nothing about brother Hugh Rodham's pardon-for-pay work to get her husband to free drug trafficker Carlos Vignali," the Post writes.
The unsigned memo says that both Mr. Rodham and Mrs. Clinton considered it a high priority to get the president to grant a pardon for Mr. Vignali. "Hugh says this is very important to him and the first lady as well as others," the Post reports the memo as saying. The note is from a file on the Vignali pardon kept by Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey.
The paper goes on to say: "The memo appears to be addressed to Lindsey and written by someone who knows the Clintons and their family members since it refers to Sen. Clinton's brother by his first name.
"It suggests either Rodham lied to the Clinton White House, or Hillary Clinton lied when she later denied knowing anything about the pardon, for which her brother was paid $204,000 by Vignali's family."
Mr. Clinton freed Mr. Vignali on Jan. 20 over objections from the U.S. Attorney's Office. He served six years of a 15-year prison term for conspiring to sell more than 800 pounds of cocaine.

Term is up, again
Rep. George Nethercutt, who pledged to serve only three terms when he upset heavyweight incumbent House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994, is seeking a fifth term.
Mr. Nethercutt, Washington Republican, has sent a letter to supporters asking for money for his campaign and is planning several fund-raisers this month during the congressional recess. He already has raised more than $176,000.
"I think the voters of the district made a decision whether they wanted me to continue," Mr. Nethercutt said Tuesday.
In last year's election, he received 57 percent of the vote in his district despite opposition financed by U.S. Term Limits, a group that supported Mr. Nethercutt in his bid to defeat Mr. Foley.
The organization called on Mr. Nethercutt to retire after three terms in 1999, then denounced him after he said he would seek a fourth term.
U.S. Term Limits will continue to remind voters of Mr. Nethercutt's 1994 term-limit pledge, but will put greater emphasis on other races, said Paul Jacob, the group's executive director.
"In a sense, George has broken his pledge," Mr. Jacob said. "He can't break it again."
Mr. Nethercutt said he wants to serve through 2004 to support President Bush's agenda, but wouldn't specify how many more terms he would seek.
"I don't look at it as an open-ended blank check," he said. "I want to serve a little bit longer."

Conservative rumbles
The rumblings among some rank-and-file conservatives about President Bush's performance in office has now emerged to the surface of the conservative print media.
David Brooks, in a group editorial in the latest edition of the Weekly Standard, criticizes the Bush administration's string of victories in the last week before the congressional August recess. The administration succeeded in getting a patients' rights measure that it favors and the president's energy plan passed in the House.
Yet Mr. Brooks says that, "these are tactical victories. In some cases, the administration has merely succeeded in promoting a slightly more responsible version of a Democratic initiative."
"If the Bush administration is going to seize the initiative on big issues, if it is going to win strategic victories as well as tactical ones, if it is going to be able to strike fear into the hearts of Senate Democrats, then President Bush is going to have to use the bully pulpit to frame issues and shape public opinion.
"This has so far been the most unrhetorical presidency of modern times. And the media abhors a vacuum. Bush makes liberals in the media more powerful by not using the power of the White House to offer a competing view," Mr. Brooks says.
He goes on to add: "This inability, or unwillingness, to articulate an argument has hampered the administration on issue after issue."
Mr. Brooks criticizes the administration for abandoning the legacy of Ronald Reagan, saying that Mr. Bush's long-term agenda lacks a coherent conservative vision.
"If Bush is going to break the deadlock that is stifling action in Washington, he is going to have to articulate a long-term vision," he says.
"Right now the Bush administration is strategically crippled. Some worthy White House official recently leaked a 'strategy' plan to The Washington Post. The document outlines a fall's worth of goo: The president is to urge members of the media to put more good news in the paper; the president will champion ideas like instant messaging between grandparents and grandkids. These ideas are so minuscule and innocuous, they are an insult to the memory of Dick Morris. Worst of all, they are compassionate conservatism without the conservatism. They represent an effort to wage a values campaign without actually articulating any values."

Apologizing to Chao
Kentucky's Democratic Party chairman has apologized to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao for insensitive remarks made at a political picnic.
At the annual gathering Saturday, Nicki Patton offered a list of 10 possible reasons why Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell — Mrs. Chao's husband — missed the Saturday picnic. Miss Patton said he "passed up some good Kentucky pork to chow down at the Chinese money buffet."
Mr. McConnell has been criticized by his opponents for his fund-raising efforts among Asian interests. He will be seeking his fourth term in 2002. Mrs. Chao, Mr. McConnell's second wife, was born in Taiwan.
Republican Chairman Ellen Williams, who followed Miss Patton on the speaker's stand, took the word "chow" to be a play on the secretary's last name and said Miss Patton should apologize.
Miss Patton, the daughter of Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton, issued a statement that said she had sent a letter to Mrs. Chao apologizing "for any misinterpretation of my remarks."
"I expressed to her my sincere regrets, as I intended no disrespect, malice nor harm toward her and hope the secretary will accept my heartfelt apology," Miss Patton said.

Civil (rights) war
One more salvo fired in the war at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights yesterday came from the commissioner's two Republican appointees, Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh, in a memo to chairman Mary Frances Berry.
The two completed a dissent last month to the commission's Florida report, which asserted that black voters were nine times more likely than others to have their ballots discounted. That assertion was among several contradicted by the two minority commissioners in their 56-page dissent.
Now the commission claims the dissent cannot be allowed as a record because it used uncompensated experts, violating a 1957 statute. Instead, it wants to only use portions of a Senate report included in the dissent.
The commission's "refusal to publish our complete dissent in the Florida Report is a naked political act of silencing the voice of dissenting members of the commission," the Thernstrom-Redenbaugh memo says.

NBC "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno had this to say about former President Clinton's recent book deal with Publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Inc., to write his memoirs for an advance of more than $10 million: "Ken Starr spent over $50 million to get Clinton to tell the truth. Random House gives him $10 million and he tells them everything. What we should have done is given Clinton $10 million, have the impeachment trial and save $40 million."

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