- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2001

Shellshocked

"To some of the reporters who cover her, [New York Sen. Hillary Rodham] Clinton appears shellshocked," USA Today reports.

Said Andrew Kirtzman of cable TV station NY1: "It's kind of sad because she really had seemed to have given herself a fresh start. She's back to being an embattled figure. She can't show her face without being besieged with questions about things she doesn't want to talk about," such as presidential pardons and White House gifts.

Branch office

"It's a measure of how queasy Democrats are getting about Bill Clinton that some now fear there could be a link between large secret gifts to the Clinton library and his controversial presidential pardons," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Fueling Dem jitters is the fact the Clinton library just upped its fund-raising goal from $125 million to $200 million, has taken in as much as $5 million per donor, and refuses to release his donor list," Miss Orin said.

Meanwhile, the columnist hears that Jake Siewert, who has just ended his tenure as spokesman for the ex-president, will land at the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Clinton hand-picked Terry McAuliffe to serve as chairman of the DNC, so the addition of Mr. Siewert "would add to the impression the party is now reduced to a branch office of Clinton Inc."

Flawed methods

The networks relied on "clearly flawed" methods as they made mistaken early calls in the November election probably affecting races in some states but congressional investigators found no evidence they intentionally misled the nation, a key House member says.

The race among the networks to be the first to project winners, even when polls in a state or in other parts of the country remained open, "can, may and probably did have an effect on the outcome of some of the elections," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin said yesterday.

"The system has bitten Democrats in the past and we think it bit Republicans this year," said Mr. Tauzin, Louisiana Republican, who has invited the heads of the major networks to testify to his committee next week.

ABC News sent Mr. Tauzin a report yesterday in which it promised not to project a winner in any state until all polls in that state were closed, the Associated Press reports. The network also said it would clarify to viewers how it was making predictions and would insulate its decision-makers from the election announcements of other TV networks.Mr. Tauzin said he and Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, would push legislation to establish uniform poll closing times for federal elections nationwide.

Ashcroft on Clinton

John Ashcroft used his first interview as attorney general to criticize Bill Clinton's role in the war on drugs and his pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

In a television interview Wednesday night, the new attorney general said his top three goals were to increase gun prosecutions, reinvigorate the war on drugs and to stamp out racial discrimination.

But he also looked back at some of President Clinton's most controversial moves, including his pardon of Mr. Rich on his last day in office, the Associated Press reports.

"A pardon should be reserved for a situation where there is a manifest sense of injustice," Mr. Ashcroft said Wednesday night on CNN's "Larry King Live" program. "The American people are troubled whenever they think a pardon would be associated with political support or financial support."

Although expressing "surprise" over the pardon, Mr. Ashcroft nevertheless said the Constitution gives a president a "pretty unfettered right" to pardon anyone.

The new attorney general also blamed Mr. Clinton in part for a rise in marijuana use during the 1990s. In the 1992 campaign, Mr. Clinton said he once had smoked marijuana, but didn't inhale. He later told an MTV town forum that if he had to do it again, he would inhale "if I could; I tried before."

"I think that sends the wrong signal," Mr. Ashcroft said.

Too slow

"We hate to be a spoilsport, just when President Bush's tax cut is gaining momentum. But someone has to point out the emerging danger that whatever passes Congress could be too small and especially too slow," the Wall Street Journal says.

"We're referring to the fact, not well understood, that if passed as written the Bush proposal would be phased in over eight years. That's right, the proposal that liberals have been denouncing as gargantuan might not be fully realized until 2009, or at the start of Jeb Bush's first presidential term. [Just kidding.] The marginal rate cuts in the proposal have a five-year trigger, finishing in 2006, but this is still dangerously slow," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"One risk is that delay could suppress economic activity for a period of time. Especially at the higher brackets, income earners are sensitive to changes in marginal tax rates. Once these Americans discover that the top marginal rate would make it down to 33 percent only in 2006, many almost certainly would decide to defer economic decisions, such as a big investment or stock-option sale. That could retard growth in the interim. We saw this happen with the three-year phase-in of the Reagan tax cuts in the 1980s, with growth only exploding in 1983. The lesson learned was not to repeat the Reagan stagger."

Mayor posts bond

Miami Mayor Joe Carollo posted $1,500 bond and was released from jail yesterday after spending the night behind bars on charges that he threw a tea canister at his wife, hitting her in the head.

Mr. Carollo, 45, spent a full day in solitary confinement after his arrest Wednesday on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery.

He did not speak to reporters as his driver whisked him away, the Associated Press reports.

"The mayor will resume running the city very shortly," attorney Evan Marks said before the release. "He looks forward to seeing his children and getting back to running the city."

Judge Bertila Soto ruled that Mr. Carollo cannot be in the couple's home when she is present, or speak or write to her. He also must surrender his guns to his attorneys. She said she will not lift the "stay away" order unless his wife comes to her court and asks.

Maria Ledon Carollo, 42, told police her husband threw a terra-cotta tea canister and it struck her in the head, raising a knot.

Mrs. Carollo, who filed for divorce last year, originally wanted her husband arrested, but later asked that charges be dropped because, she said, he had not meant to hurt her. Police charged him anyway.

Mr. Carollo could face up to a year in the county jail if convicted, but because he has no prior record, he likely won't see jail time, according to Ed Griffith, a state attorney's office spokesman.

'Vets' form caucus

Two senators yesterday announced the formation of a different sort of "vets" caucus.

Republican Sens. Wayne Allard of Colorado and John Ensign of Nevada convened the first meeting of the Senate Veterinarian Caucus in Mr. Allard's office in the Hart Building. Joining them was Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, who brought his dog "Wags" as the unofficial mascot of the caucus.

Mr. Allard and Mr. Ensign, both graduates of the Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine, intend to call attention to veterinary issues in this session.

Punch line

Jay Leno, on NBC's "Tonight" show, talks about the dispute between former President Clinton and Al Gore: "They are reporting that after Gore's concession speech that he had a huge fight with Bill Clinton, actually screaming at each other… . Al Gore was so mad that he refused to help Clinton carry the dining room table out to his car."

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