- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

Bush's retort

President-elect George W. Bush yesterday dismissed President Clinton's charges that only the Supreme Court stood in the way of an Al Gore presidency.

"I'd won the recount I think three or four times. And I've always worried about the re-vote," Mr. Bush said as he announced Elaine Chao as his new nominee for secretary of Labor and Robert Zoellick as his pick for U.S. trade representative.

"But when they counted the ballots in the state of Florida, I won. And he can say what he wants to say, but January the 20th I'll be honored to be sworn in as the president."

In Chicago on Tuesday night, Mr. Clinton said that William M. Daley, who served as Vice President Al Gore's campaign chairman, "did a brilliant job in leading Vice President Gore to victory" Nov. 7.

"By the time it was over, our candidate had won the popular vote, and the only way they could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida," Mr. Clinton said.

In denial

While many Republicans are miffed that President Clinton is spending the final days of his administration taking potshots at his successor, some Democrats say Mr. Clinton is being misjudged: The man is in pain.

"Angry Republicans suspect Clinton wants to make trouble for Bush, who defeated his veep and hand-picked successor, but some Democrats suspect the real reason is that Clinton is struggling to hold onto the limelight," the New York Post reports.

An anonymous Democratic source told reporter Deborah Orin that Mr. Clinton is "in denial" the president cannot accept the fact that his time on the world stage is just about over.

How subtle

Sen. Barbara Boxer told CBS News that she never uses the term "racist." This came immediately after the California Democrat accused Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft of having conducted a "political lynching" of a black judicial nominee.

Mrs. Boxer, in an interview Wednesday with CBS reporter Bob Schieffer, referred to Mr. Ashcroft's opposition to judicial nominee Ronnie White, whom Mr. Ashcroft had said was soft on crime.

"I hate to use a charged term, but it's my heart talking here. I really think it was a political lynching that happened there in the United States Senate," Mrs. Boxer said.

When Mr. Schieffer then asked whether she considered Mr. Ashcroft to be a racist, Mrs. Boxer replied: "I never use that word against anyone. I can only judge John Ashcroft by his actions, and what I am telling you is that he engineered a humiliating defeat for Ronnie White.

Next to nothing

"Looking back on the past eight years, two things stand out how well the economy has performed, and how little the Clinton administration has achieved," National Journal columnist Clive Crook writes.

"Bill Clinton could have done so much. How many presidents have been as politically talented? And Clinton is a genuinely clever man, never lacking bright ideas. Along came the surging economy, giving him greater means than he ever dared dream, to prove that his visionary, New Democrat agenda really amounted to something," Mr. Crook said.

"Yet, at the end, in policy terms, what does he have to show for it all? Clinton inherited from his predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he then pushed through the Congress bravely and over Democratic opposition to gain passage in 1993.

"In domestic policy, though, the only substantial achievement was welfare reform which was no 'Third Way,' New Democrat measure, but an outright conservative plan devised by Republicans and rammed down the president's throat. Health care? Social Security? Education? Tax reform? The environment? Eight years of seemingly limitless potential yielded next to nothing, and all those assets were spent on damage control and mere political survival."

On Wisconsin

"At least two Wisconsin Democrats are giving serious consideration to leaving the House to run for governor in 2002, seeking to take advantage of the political vacuum created by sitting Gov. Tommy Thompson's likely confirmation as the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services," Roll Call reports.

"Five-term Rep. Tom Barrett and three-term Rep. Ron Kind, Democrats from different ends of Wisconsin, are both actively considering gubernatorial campaigns, but would likely retreat if millionaire Sen. Herb Kohl throws his hat into the ring," reporter Rachel Van Dongen writes.

Down with fanatics

"Linda Chavez has only herself to blame for the fact that she won't be the next secretary of labor," Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes.

"Frankly, she should have known better. She should have known better than to open her heart to a stranger in need. Let alone a stranger who had just spent 10 days in a shelter for battered women. Let alone a battered woman who couldn't speak English, had very little money, and was fleeing a country racked by civil war and political murder," Mr. Jacoby said.

"What was Chavez thinking? Was she out of her right-wing mind? How could she and her husband have allowed Marta Mercado to share their home while trying to get her life in order and obtain a green card? How could she have driven Mercado to English classes? Or showed her how to get around on the subway? Or occasionally given her of all things! spending money?"

The columnist added: "She must have been deranged to think she could extend such compassion to another person and get away with it. Real Washington players know that only a fanatic behaves like that. And that was just the point that [Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M.] Kennedy and [AFL-CIO chief John] Sweeney and People for the American Way's Ralph Neas and the National Council of La Raza and all those other leftist mouthpieces that joined in assailing Chavez were trying to make about her all along: She's a fanatic."

Candlelight dinners

The Presidential Inaugural Committee yesterday announced details about three fund-raising "candlelight dinners," held to offset costs of the 2001 Inauguration.

The dinners, which all take place Thursday, will be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel, the National Building Museum, and Union Station. The cost is $2,500 a ticket.

President-elect George W. Bush; his wife, Laura; Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney; and his wife, Lynne, will attend each dinner and make brief remarks, officials said.

One of the committee's goals "is to make as many Inaugural events affordable and accessible as possible to the public," said Executive Director Jeanne Johnson Phillips. "These three dinners serve as a fund-raising event to help defray ticket costs for the general public. Proceeds also will be used to help fund the Inaugural events, activities, and general administration."

The doors open for each black-tie event at 6:30 p.m., followed by a reception and a dinner. Celebrity master of ceremonies for each include baseball legend Johnny Bench at Union Station; sports commentator Dick Enberg at the National Building Museum; and actress Bo Derek and entertainer Wayne Newton at the Washington Hilton.

Blame the software

The Agriculture Department says it overestimated the amount of farmland that was developed between 1992 and 1997 by 30 percent and it blames faulty software for the mistake, the Associated Press reports.

The department initially reported that nearly 16 million acres of farmland were converted to development between 1992 and 1997 a rate of 3.2 million per year. The correct figure, it turns out, is 11.2 million acres, a development rate of 2.2 million acres per year.

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