- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Bye-bye, Bubba

President Clinton will deliver a televised farewell speech at 8 p.m. EST Thursday before handing the reins of power to President-elect George W. Bush on Saturday, the White House said yesterday.
"It's an opportunity for the president to thank the American people for their support over the years and talk a bit about how America has changed for the better," White House spokesman Jake Siewert told reporters.
According to Reuters news agency, officials at CNN said the network would carry the president's speech live. ABC and CBS said they had not yet made a formal decision on broadcasting the speech. No response was immediately available from NBC.
Mr. Clinton has been busy in the final days of his term.
Yesterday, he urged Americans to perform community service as a way to improve race relations and honor Martin Luther King, and sending Congress 26 pages of recommendations for how to deal with the "unfinished work of building one America."

Something different

Conservative activist Paul M. Weyrich arrived in Washington when President Johnson was in the White House. He has seen Republican presidents come and go, and says he has been more or less disappointed in all of them.

"Now comes George W. Bush. Elected under the most unusual circumstances of any president in our history, his opponents even question his legitimacy. The Supreme Court made him president by one vote, they claim. He faces a Senate with a radicalized opposition, split down the middle, run by a demoralized majority leader.

"This crowd smells blood. They can taste victory in 2002 and intend to do nothing to help Bush with his reform program, which, interestingly enough, is a direct the Senate the Democrats' most fortified redoubt said in an interview that his greatest challenge may be 'artificially high expectations of what we might be able to do under such circumstances,' " the New York Times reports.

"He carefully noted the 'sea change' that would take place when President Clinton leaves office: Democrats would no longer be able to count on the president's veto, or the president's megaphone, or federal agencies and Cabinet secretaries. 'This will be very, very difficult,' [Senate Majority Leader Tom] Daschle said."

Reporter Alison Mitchell added: "A critical question facing Democrats is when to compromise. Party leaders say they are wary about being seen as obstructionists, blocking a president who promised to end the gridlock in Washington… ."

"Yet at the same time Democrats do not want to extinguish the fires that could drive disgruntled minority voters and liberals to the polls in 2002 in a drive for Democratic control of Congress."

Taxpayer-funded smear

"Liberal groups opposing the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general receive about $45 million in government funding annually," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at www.nationalreview.com, citing an analysis by the Capital Research Center.
"There are, of course, dozens of left-wing interest groups lobbying to defeat Ashcroft. The Capital Research Center a vital organization that examines who funds what took a close look at 18 of them, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, NAACP, National Education Association, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Planned Parenthood," the writers said.
"Here is another lesson on the dangers of funding the Left. There are restrictions on how government dollars are used, and lobbying is generally considered off-limits. But all money is fungible, which means a job-training grant to the AFSCME Training & Education Institute frees up funds for other things such as targeting the conservative nominee of a Republican administration.
"The government-funding figures are almost certainly higher than what the Capital Research Center actually reports, because there are more than 18 groups gunning for Ashcroft, and the center's own data on the 18 groups it studied are admittedly incomplete. The 1999 numbers, for example, don't include information on five of the groups in question, and listed simply as 'unknown.'
"What's clear is that the smearing of John Ashcroft at least a big chunk of it is an operation underwritten by American taxpayers."

A short ride

President Clinton has a new limousine, but he only has until noon Saturday to enjoy it, Reuters reports.
"I want you to know that the Secret Service delivered to me this morning, so I get to ride around in it for five days, the newest presidential limousine," Mr. Clinton said during a Martin Luther King Day holiday speech yesterday.
Mr. Clinton, who turns over power to George W. Bush on Saturday, called the limousine "an enormous improvement in terms of the workability of the inner spacing [interior], plus we still have the license plates on it."
He was referring to the District of Columbia license plates with the slogan "taxation without representation" to protest the fact that residents of the District pay taxes but have only a nonvoting delegate in Congress.
Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said the new limo, a 2001 Cadillac, was longer and wider than other presidential limousines and had a number of security-related enhancements that were classified.

A stunning assertion

"As he rages against the dying of the spotlight, Bill Clinton can breathe one final sigh of relief: The man with whom he established the illegal 'Asian connection' that heavily financed his 1992 and 1996 campaigns has been given a walk by Reno Justice," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.
"James Riady, the Indonesian billionaire with close ties to Beijing's leaders, was allowed to plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. One of his banks will pay a fine of $8 million, to him a painless penalty. Because no threat of jail hangs over the Clinton moneyman who evaded subpoenas for almost five years, he is not induced to tell the whole truth about his hugely successful purchase of White House influence," Mr. Safire said.
"What if a federal judge at [today's] scheduled hearing in Los Angeles should object to the wrist slap arranged by outgoing Reno aides and give Riady the jail sentence the totality of his wrongdoing deserves?
"In that case, Justice has agreed to nullify the confession and promises not to arrest him as he leaves the country. You have to be a fugitive billionaire with great political connections to get that sweet a plea bargain."
According to documents signed by Riady, he aided Mr. Clinton in order to win most-favored-nation trade status for China, open trade policies with Indonesia and normalization of relations with Vietnam.
Said Mr. Safire: "Staring us in the face is this stunning assertion now harder than ever to controvert: An American president's foreign policy decisions were substantially influenced by unlawful campaign contributions at critical times from a foreign source. In my view, that inescapable judgment will be more damning in history's eyes than Whitewater cover-ups or any abuses for which Clinton was impeached."

Poetic justice

"For eight years, the boys in the White House piously advocated campaign-finance reform while they brazenly pushed the ethical and legal limits on political fund-raising," writes Ron Faucheux, editor in chief of Campaigns & Elections magazine.
"The end result of this hypocrisy was Ralph Nader and the 97,419 votes he received in Florida. Poetic justice, n'est-ce pas?"

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