- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2001

Selfish Democrats
It was widely reported that Bill Clinton huddled last week with former top aides to discuss how to rehabilitate his image. But the following item, from reporter Richard L. Berke's story in the New York Times, must have been especially interesting to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
"Participants said that while some nice things were said about the Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, there was a view that they would only do so much to press the Clinton agenda. 'The view was that House and Senate Democrats were too preoccupied with their own re-elections and their own deals,' one participant said."

The Clinton recession
ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos, who once served in the White House as a top adviser to Bill Clinton, says it must be driving the former president "crazy" that most people blame him for the current recession.
It was not clear why that fact, culled from a USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll published Thursday, should have shocked Mr. Clinton. After all, the economic slowdown began before President Bush took office. And Mr. Clinton might want to count his blessings, since he claimed credit for an economic recovery that began months before he took office in 1993.
For the record, here's how USA Today reported that portion of its survey: "Just 44 percent of those polled say the Bush administration shares blame for the recession. Three in four blame Congress, 62 percent blame the Clinton administration, and 79 percent say the September 11 terrorist attacks played a role."
The poll also found that the "public prefers Republican economic policies to Democratic plans, 44 percent to 35 percent, even though Democrats charge that the GOP favors corporate special interests at the expense of those out of work," and that if the 2002 elections were held today, "48 percent of registered voters would vote for the Republican congressional candidate and 43 percent for the Democrat."

The simple truth
After eight years "of nothing but equivocation and spin, we seem to be getting somewhere," Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"At least we're not spending our time searching for the subtext of every public utterance. No one needs to parse 'what the meaning of is is,' or deconstruct the meaning of 'sexual relations' or track down 'right-wing conspiracies.' We're way beyond that. Remember when we used to 'degrade' our enemies? Now we kill them," the columnist said.
"We're into the simple truth, which is not a bad thing particularly for [President] Bush, who has never been known for his ornate communication skills. Maybe Bush is benefiting once again from low expectations. Or maybe, offers an aide, he's doing well because he is actually saying what he thinks: What a novel idea. Not only that, adds another aide, 'What he says in private these days is very often what he says in public.' More spin? Maybe, but my guess is probably not."

Condit's gift
Gary Condit made life easier last week for the many Democratic politicians who have been pondering the question of whether to publicly support him in the primary for his re-election bid for Congress.
Mr. Condit, California Democrat, issued a statement releasing those who already had announced their support of him from their commitments. Hours later, one prominent Democrat took him up on his offer.
California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democrats' whip-elect, had endorsed Mr. Condit for re-election in March and had repeated her vow of support earlier last week. But after Mr. Condit's announcement, she declared herself neutral.
"Congressman Condit has said that this race should not be measured by endorsements from members of Congress but that this is a decision for the voters of the 18th Congressional District to make about his 30-year record of service," she said. "I have informed Congressman Condit that I will be neutral in this primary race."
Mrs. Pelosi was one of only few lawmakers to announce support for Mr. Condit. But because she is now the whip-elect, the No. 2 leadership position among House Democrats, her support would have meant a higher profile.
She now joins a host of Democrats who have publicly declared they will remain neutral in the March primary, in which Mr. Condit is facing a former aide, Dennis Cardoza, now a member of the California Assembly.

Boeing bailout
Sen. John McCain continues to criticize a $20 billion to $30 billion proposal by Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, to have the federal government lease 767s from Boeing.
"Everybody knows that it's a bailout for Boeing," the Arizona Republican said Saturday on CNN. "Their lobbyists are incredibly active, and the senators that have been working for this."
When asked about a comment by Mrs. Murray that the nation needs to have a healthy aviation industry, Mr. McCain replied: "If it's necessary, then let's just write them a check. I mean, we wrote a check to the airlines, as you know, when they were in danger of going under, because we thought this was a national security issue. I think we're going to do something for the insurance companies and others. But to rip off the American taxpayers in this fashion is incredibly obscene."

A Bush backer
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, repeated his belief that President Bush deserves to be Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2001.
Mr. McCain made his remarks in an interview Saturday on CNN, a day before Time announced it had chosen New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
"I think [Mr. Bush] has risen to the occasion in a time of national crisis and has rallied the American people, and very effectively, with a great team around him, has prosecuted the conflict [against terrorists in Afghanistan] very successfully," Mr. McCain said on CNN's "America's New War."
"Yes, absolutely," Mr. Bush deserves "Person of the Year" honors, Mr. McCain said of his adversary in the 2000 Republican presidential primary races.
He went on to say he is not surprised by Mr. Bush's accomplishments. "But he certainly has done a superb job of conducting himself in a time of national crisis. Some leaders fail under these kinds of crises. He has not, obviously," Mr. McCain said.
Earlier in the week, the Arizona Republican had made the case for Mr. Bush in an editorial in the conservative weekly "Human Events."

Ho, ho, ho
"As an early Christmas gift, the politicians have failed to pass an economic 'stimulus' bill that wasn't going to stimulate anything. Bravo to President Bush for finally walking away," the Wall Street Journal says.
"The political fiasco may even be useful down the road if Mr. Bush learned about the partisan nature of his Senate opposition. President, er, Majority Leader Tom Daschle demanded that two-thirds of his 51 Democrats support any specific tax-cut proposal so any collection of 18 liberals had a veto over any tax cut that could kick start growth," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"This means that Congress' only fiscal policy response to September 11 has been to boost spending, by roughly 14 percent over a year ago. The average American family should be so lucky. The only consolation for the rest of us is that it could have been worse."

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