- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2001

Good luck, thief

George Stephanopoulos, the former Clinton aide turned news commentator for ABC, says the president plans a farewell address, and that President Clinton probably will not question his successor's legitimacy.
Mr. Clinton, in recent speeches, has made it clear he thinks President-elect George W. Bush stole the election.
"Well, and I think that's what he believes and I think a lot of Democrats believe that," Mr. Stephanopoulos said yesterday on "This Week."
"That doesn't mean he should have said it. Of course, he shouldn't have said that part. It's not gracious in these final days in the White House. But you know, we're not done with President Clinton yet. I've heard that he is planning on giving a farewell address, like Ronald Reagan did. Probably in prime time on Thursday night. And I think in that one he'll strike a far more gracious tone. He's [going to] talk about how grateful he is for the chance to serve and will wish his successor good luck."

Clinton strikes again

The White House that's the Clinton White House tomorrow will release an analysis of budgets to come, including economic projections, surpluses and a "current services" budget.
That may sound obscure to the point of irrelevance, but it is, in fact, one final weapon for those who would oppose spending changes Republicans in Congress or President-elect George W. Bush may propose.
The "current services budget" is an estimate of how much will have to be spent in 2002 and beyond to match the level of government services provided in 2001 after adjusting for inflation.
Conservatives have always rejected the idea of a current services budget, arguing that a spending increase even to make up for inflation is still a spending increase. But by releasing the report tomorrow, the Clinton administration hopes to set the budget debate on its terms.

Chief Justice Ashcroft?

"The buzz on Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft is that the Bush team considers him the top eventual choice to replace U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist," Paul Bedard writes in the "Washington Whispers" column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Conservative Bush associates say Ashcroft is favored over residing right-leaning Justice Antonin Scalia because he may actually be easier to confirm, should Rehnquist retire. But Democrats say the Bushies are dreaming, suggesting that their bid to block Ashcroft's appointment to Justice which sources say is at 32 Democratic senators and growing is just 'the beginning.' "
Mr. Bedard also hears that "the incoming Bush press office is considering giving two conservative-leaning organizations, The Washington Times and Fox News Channel, better seats in the briefing room, where bigheaded reporters think seat placement equals influence and power. The Times could jump from the fourth row to the front, taking the old UPI seat. And Fox could move to the second row, where CNN sits."

Neo-Confederates

Steven Greenhut, a senior editorialist at the Orange County Register, finds it amazing that the attorney general-designate is accused of being a "neo-Confederate."
"I'm not kidding. That's the newest line of attack, one amplified in the Baltimore Sun [Jan. 7] by columnist Norman Solomon, executive director of the left-wing Institute for Public Accuracy. Solomon's best evidence of Ashcroft's desire to replace the Stars and Stripes with the Stars and Bars is that in 1998 Ashcroft gave an interview to the Columbia, S.C.-based Southern Partisan. In it, Ashcroft praised the Partisan for helping 'set the record straight' about Robert E. Lee and other 'Southern patriots.' Solomon echoed other liberal writers in his portrayal of the magazine as a far-right racist journal that supported David Duke and routinely praises slavery," Mr. Greenhut writes at Nationalreview.com.
"I take particular interest in the charges because I had written a two-page article in the same issue that the Ashcroft interview appeared. By my thinking, if Ashcroft is a neo-Confederate for being interviewed by the Partisan, I must be one for writing for it. That's something I ought to know about!
"I wonder if Solomon actually read the magazine, given the level of distortions in this avowed media critic's piece. For one thing, the magazine deals with Southern culture and history as much as politics. The cover story that month was about the tragic life of Hank Williams. My article was a review of the book 'Jews and the American Slave Trade' by Youngstown State University Professor Saul Friedman. I praised the book for debunking the myth that Jews played an inordinate role in the slave trade, as some black nationalists suggest.
"Does that sound racist to you?" Mr. Greenhut asked, noting that the magazine also has featured cover stories on conservative black columnist Walter Williams and James Meredith, who integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962 and became an aide to Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican.

Friendly fire

Robert Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, set out to attack Interior Secretary-designate Gale A. Norton yesterday but instead found himself denying that he was putting a hurt on fellow Democrats.

Mr. Kennedy, in an interview on ABC's "This Week," denounced former Colorado Attorney General Norton's support of "self-auditing," in which companies report pollution problems and work with government to alleviate them, rather than face prosecution for being honest.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, responded: "It's a state law that [Mr. Kennedy has] attacked. Democratic Governor Roy Romer signed that law. Current U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Denver, a Democrat environmentalist, authored that law. Thirty states have self-audit laws. [Mrs. Norton] was defending that law in court, which, again, if she thinks that the law is constitutional, is her duty. For Robert Kennedy to attack the self-audit law is to attack Diana DeGette and Roy Romer, not Gale Norton. That's just not fair."

Mr. Kennedy conceded that Mr. Romer a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee signed the bill but insisted that it was a "Republican state legislative initiative."

"No, it was sponsored by Democrat Diana DeGette," Mr. Owens replied.

"EPA has said that that law is illegal," Mr. Kennedy continued, which brought one more rebuttal from the Colorado governor.

"No, EPA supports that law, Mr. Kennedy," he said.

A likable guy

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says he understands why President Clinton will leave office with a job-approval rating that exceeds 60 percent.
"He is one of the most incredibly likable politicians I've ever known," the Mississippi Republican said in an interview on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."
"He came by my office the other day and saw some Clinton cartoons. I talked to him later, and he said, 'I've got some cartoons about me better than that.' I said, 'Gee, send me one.'
"Yesterday, he sent me one with a personal handwritten note. I mean, it was a neat gesture.
"It's hard not to like him, even though you may disagree with some of his conduct, or even some of his philosophical positions," Mr. Lott said.

Amazing coincidence

"It look as though we'll all be footing the bill for the Clinton's place in Chappaqua, purchased by the First Couple for $1.7 million when Hillary had to demonstrate her New York roots," Alexander Cockburn writes in the New York Press.
"The Secret Service needs a place on the property to house its agents, and the Clintons have been so good as to make available a structure for their bodyguards. By an amazing coincidence the rent matches the monthly mortgage payment for the entire property," Mr. Cockburn said.


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