- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2001

Insult to sophomores

Vandalism in the West Wing by outgoing Clinton-Gore staffers even if only the removal of the W keys from computer keyboards "was not worthy of any self-respecting Student Council member or of anyone over the age of 15," Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene writes.
"Calling it sophomoric is an insult to sophomores everywhere," Mr. Greene said.
"President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their staffs ought to secretly be feeling deep gratitude toward the staffers who worked for their predecessors nothing that Bush or Cheney could say or do could make the departing administration appear any more featherweight. The grandeur of the presidential transition? Maybe when seen through gauze, from a distance.
"Up close, or so it seems now, some of the people who worked for Clinton and Gore weren't even worthy of impeachment.
"Detention would have been more appropriate."

Bush's joke

In the wake of the postelection dispute over ballot chads in Florida, President George W. Bush joked yesterday that he will make his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the U.S. ambassador to the African nation of Chad.
The comment came during a meeting Mr. Bush held with leaders of Catholic Charities as part of his faith-based initiative to permit religious and community organizations to compete for federal dollars to help solve social ills, Reuters reports.
The Catholic archbishop of Miami, John Favalora, told Mr. Bush that he was "from the great state of Florida, which I know is near and dear to your heart."
After the laughter died down, Mr. Bush said: "I'm about to name my brother the ambassador to Chad."
Reporters apparently were not intended to hear this part of the meeting, but did anyway when the comments were inadvertently played over the feed in the White House press-briefing room.

Jersey's new governor

New Jersey Republican state Sen. Donald DiFrancesco, a plain-spoken political insider largely unknown outside Statehouse circles, was sworn in as governor yesterday an hour after Christine Todd Whitman stepped down.
Mr. DiFrancesco, 65, will serve out the one year remaining on Mrs. Whitman's term and will run for election to a full four-year term in November.
While Mrs. Whitman, 54, was one of the most visible Republicans on the national scene, her resignation to become head of the Environmental Protection Agency leaves a very different individual in the governor's office, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. DiFrancesco built a reputation as a congenial broker of political deals but has little name recognition beyond the Statehouse or his own district.
Mr. DiFrancesco will face Jersey City Mayor Bret D. Schundler in the Republican primary. The Democratic front-runner is Woodbridge Mayor Jim McGreevey, who nearly upset Mrs. Whitman's bid for a second term in 1997.

Help for the Rich

A Senate panel announced a hearing next week on President Clinton's pardon of fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

A spokesman for Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that the hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

The hearing is potentially embarrassing to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who is among the Democrats who have received campaign contributions from Mr. Rich's ex-wife, Denise, who has been invited to testify.

A spokesman for Mrs. Rich said she had not decided how to respond to the requests.

Mr. Rich, whom President Clinton pardoned in the final hours of his presidency, fled to Switzerland and was convicted in absentia of 51 counts.

The House Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the pardon today.

Campaign money again

House lawmakers reintroduced legislation to reform federal campaign fund-raising laws yesterday, saying they have 142 co-sponsors and the momentum to win congressional approval this year.

"As the old saying goes, the third time is the charm," said Rep. Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, a line also cited in a press release by Rep. Steve Horn, California Republican.

The proposal to outlaw unrestricted "soft money" contributions to parties and to restrict issue ads before elections have triumphed in the House twice in the past four years, only to die in the Senate.

About a dozen House members joined Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, chief Republican sponsor, to tout reintroduction of the measure.

Rep. Marge Roukema, New Jersey Republican, and other lawmakers, complained bitterly about political action committees that spent millions of dollars on television and newspaper advertising against them in the last election.

Mrs. Roukema said she was blistered in her primary election by $1 million worth of ads paid for by the Club for Growth, an independent conservative group formed by Wall Street financier Richard Gilder.

"The soft-money loophole is the core of the corruption that has been going on," she said.

The two parties raised more than $900 million in soft money combined, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Senate backers of the measure have been promised a March debate on their version of the bill.

Mr. Shays said he expects House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, will schedule House debate after Senate action.

Andrew vs. Mario

Former federal housing secretary Andrew M. Cuomo's announcement this week that he is running for governor of New York inspired the New York Post's Fredric U. Dicker to list differences between Andrew and his father, Mario, the former governor.
"Where Mario Cuomo was known as the dithering 'Hamlet on the Hudson,' Andrew Cuomo's unequivocal announcement Monday night was meant to show him to be decisive and firm," Mr. Dicker said.
"Where Mario Cuomo was known as an old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal, Andrew Cuomo's call for a 'new generation of ideas' was designed to signal he's a 'New Democrat,' pro-business and concerned with the upstate economy.
"Where Mario Cuomo was known as a surly and defensive 'outer borough' personality, Andrew Cuomo went out of his way to be seen as sophisticated, engaging and inclusive to a racially mixed crowd of Manhattan-based supporters.
"Most tellingly, where Mario Cuomo has long been known as the most important Cuomo in New York, he was kept in the background at the announcement not even given a chance to deliver one of his fiery speeches."

A tale of ex-governors

David Walters, a Democrat who served as governor of Oklahoma from 1991 to 1995, is testing the waters for a possible run against Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe next year, National Journal's Hotline reports.
Mr. Walters, who agreed not to run for re-election as governor after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor campaign violation in exchange for the dismissal of eight felony counts of campaign fraud, said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has offered aid and probably will conduct a poll in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, former Democratic Gov. James Blanchard began a 50-day, 50-city tour in Flint, the city he once called his "good-luck charm."
Mr. Blanchard is thought to be considering another run for governor, a position he held from 1983 to 1991, before losing to Republican John Engler. Mr. Engler is term-limited from running again next year.

Another pardon

On NBC's "Tonight," host Jay Leno asks: "Have you seen the scary ad for the movie 'Hannibal,' the 'Silence of the Lambs' sequel? 'He's on the loose again.' So apparently, it's another one of those last-minute Clinton pardons."

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