- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Dubya's come-on

Let's face it, Valentine's Day ain't what it used to be.

Unless, of course, you're one of the many Democrats being courted by President George W. Bush.

Speaking as a lady, Tish Durkin, newly settled on Capitol Hill as columnist for the National Journal, having previously covered national politics for the New York Observer, believes Mr. Bush's "charm offensive" is bound to hit a rough patch soon.

In the meantime, she says, Washington Democrats are reacting no differently than anybody else who hasn't been "sweet-talked" in a long time.

"Ask any woman: After years of suitors who split the check, drop you at the curb, and don't call for two weeks, you will give a lot of points, no doubt too many, to the guy who insists on paying, walking you to your door, and sending flowers the next day," she says.

"After Newt Gingrich and Dan Burton and all the rest that the GOP has thrown at them in recent years, the Democrats I've run into are not afraid to admit their willingness to deal with or at least listen to a Republican who seems to think they smell good."

Quote of the week

"I love liberals. They put up with this guy through perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice, use of the military to cloud discussion of his problems. He steals the toaster and they say, 'That's it. We've had it with the man.' "

Commentator George Will, referring to you-know-who.

Sharing the wealth

What mostly bothers a high-ranking Reagan administration official is the relative ease in which loyal Democrats, albeit erroneously, "legitimize what the Clintons" packed up from the White House to fill their various estates.

At the expense, no less, of former President and Mrs. Reagan.

Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," was asked why former President and Mrs. Clinton packed more than their suitcases would hold after eight years in the White House.

"It's, you know, presidents all through the past have taken gifts, the Bushes did the Reagans took a $2.2-million-dollar house," Mr. Podesta observed.

Wrong.

"Well, but you know, [Mrs. Reagan] took a million dollars worth of according to the New York Times, I just read that this morning of jewelry and personal furnishings."

Mr. Podesta's backtracking didn't go unnoticed.

"There was a sudden burst of these charges about the Reagans' house over the weekend," observes the former Reagan aide, who detects a coordinated effort by Democrats to divert attention from the Clintons' latest fiasco.

"After the Reagans left the White House they paid the purchase price and then some for the house. It was no gift," the official repeats for the record.

"I know this because I observed the process quite closely, as did the White House counsel and other attorneys."

Rather than flowers

Switchboard operators from Capitol Hill to CBS won't be hooking up romance this Valentine's Day.

Thousands of Americans are expected to jam the U.S. Capitol switchboard today as part of a national call-in day to support international right-to-know legislation, requiring U.S. corporations to report on their environmental, human rights and labor practices abroad.

Meanwhile, the Citizens' Coalition for Responsible Media (CCRM), a media activist group dedicated to eliminating inaccurate reporting within the nation's news organizations, will send unusual Valentine's greetings to CBS News anchor Dan Rather.

"We want viewers to let him know what they think of his brand of news reporting," says CCRM spokesman Doug MacDonald of "Operation Valentine."

He says the anchor's broad "reach" across the country makes it even more important that Americans get accurate news.

"When they don't, people arrive at the wrong conclusions, voters make wrong choices and the hope for an informed citizenry is devalued and debased," he says.

Lasting gift

A gift of health is being presented to men this Valentine's Day.

The Health and Human Services Department has five offices on women's health, but none for men. That all could change today, after Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican, introduces legislation to establish the first-ever Office of Men's Health.

According to the Men's Health Network, created in 1991 by nationally recognized men's advocates, a current "crisis" in men's health not only affects men, but also has tragic implications on their wives and families.

The office, if established, would monitor and coordinate efforts to improve the health and lives of men, resulting in vast steps forward in health research and disease prevention.

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