- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2001

Plate tectonics

When George W. Bush steps into his presidential limousine after being sworn in tomorrow, the D.C. "Taxation Without Representation" license plate will be gone, at least temporarily and perhaps permanently.
President Clinton recently ordered the pro-statehood license plate placed on the vehicle in order to tweak his successor, who opposes statehood for the District.
Ari Fleischer, press secretary for the president-elect, was asked about the "Taxation Without Representation" license plate yesterday.
"His limo, in accordance with the tradition, will have an inaugural plate on it," Mr. Fleischer told reporters.
When pressed as to whether the pro-statehood plate would ever make it back onto the limo, Mr. Fleischer dodged the question.
"We'll inaugurate first," he said.

Consumed with himself

New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, paraphrasing presidential aides, says that Bill Clinton, in his final days in office, is "consumed with himself, with what may/might/could/should/ he make happen in his shrinking hours."
Mrs. Adams, again citing aides to the president, said Mr. Clinton "stares out to space and into his own soul. They know the menu for his Sunday breakfast in Chappaqua. Prozac."

Babs clears her throat

John Ashcroft needs people, but he's not the luckiest person in the world.

Barbra Streisand is trying to undermine his support among the people he needs in the Senate.

The actress-singer and loyal Democrat is working the telephone to defeat the attorney general-designate, calling 15 senators to urge his rejection, Daily Variety senior columnist Army Archerd reported yesterday.

The prima donna, a major backer of President Clinton and the failed candidacy of Vice President Al Gore, gave the columnist a litany of what she thinks are the former senator's ideas.

"We allow a woman the right of choice over her own body," Mr. Archerd quoted her as saying. "We have some basic gun-control laws. We have affirmative action. We have laws that protect the environment. We have separation of church and state. We have laws that guarantee protection of civil rights and liberties.

"Why would we allow the chief law enforcement officer to be a person who doesn't believe in any of these laws?" asked the Democratic diva.

Despite sharp attacks by liberal pressure groups, Mr. Ashcroft is expected to be confirmed.

"Bravo, Barbra," cheered Mr. Archerd, forgetting opera convention and gender rules in Italian.

Extremists and bullies

"It is something to behold, this collection of extremists, bullies, and character assassins that has lined up to destroy John Ashcroft's reputation," Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes.
"Not since the defeat of Robert Bork, the most distinguished Supreme Court nominee of the last quarter-century, has any presidential appointee been assaulted by a mob as big and brutal as this one," Mr. Jacoby said.
"Just look at them. Here is Handgun Control Inc., labeling Ashcroft an intellectual bedfellow of 'convicted mass-murderer Timothy McVeigh.' Over there is Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, likening him to the 'virulent segregationists' of the 1950s. Ashcroft, chimes in the NAACP's Kweisi Mfume, 'has consistently opposed civil rights.'
"At the Los Angeles Times, an editorial-page cartoon depicts him as a member of the Klan, complete with white robe and hood. And did you know he hates women, too? Yep: Planned Parenthood's Gloria Feldt calls Ashcroft 'a clear and present danger to American women.'
"Joe McCarthy himself was never this McCarthyite."

Security breach

A national security adviser to President Clinton was caught transferring highly classified computer files from a secure network in the White House to an unsecured network, but was allowed to stay on the job, White House sources tell WorldNetDaily.com.
The 1998 breach in security occurred when the National Security Council official copied classified files onto a disk from an NSC computer in a secure area of the West Wing, White House employees say. She then loaded the files onto a computer connected to an unsecured network in her Old Executive Office Building office, exposing the secret data to potential Internet hackers and foreign spies, sources say.
After the adviser conceded taking the classified files, her computer was confiscated, as well as her building security badge. But White House sources say the national security adviser, who is a Clinton appointee, was allowed to return to her job after being placed on extended leave.
"She was supposed to be fired and wasn't," said a White House employee close to the investigation. "She went on maternity leave. Now she's back working at NSC."

Man in the mirror

"Why is it that one of the most conservative presidents from the Democratic Party could have ended up being so intensely hated by the right, and polarized American politics like no other?" Francis Fukuyama asks in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"The reason was that the Clintons were quintessential 'bobos': crudely materialistic, self-absorbed, and power-hungry, but at the same time unable to admit any of this to themselves because they believed their intelligence, education and sophistication entitled them to a higher level of respect," Mr. Fukuyama said.
"Like others in his generation, the man presiding over America's most recent decade of greed could look himself in the mirror and pronounce himself satisfied with what he saw."

Rendell's message

The next election for governor of Pennsylvania won't take place until November 2002, but former Philadelphia mayor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell and state Auditor General Bob Casey Jr. already are jockeying for the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Casey, son of the late former governor, held a party Tuesday that was attended by many of the state's leading Democrats, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
"The party was for Casey's inauguration, but it had the look and feel of a gubernatorial kickoff," reporter Tom Infield said. "State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione, of Philadelphia, the Democratic state chairwoman, surprised the crowd by giving her personal endorsement to Casey 17 months in advance of the primary."
The next day, perhaps to warn fellow Democrats against jumping on a Casey bandwagon, Mr. Rendell released a report showing that he had $4.86 million in the bank. Mr. Casey then reported that he had $1.01 million on hand.
Rendell adviser David L. Cohen told the newspaper: "The fund raising is a message in and of itself."

Good seats

Among the many revelers along the inaugural parade route on Saturday, none will be happier than Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Republicans.
Mr. Watts is holding a $5,000-per-head fund-raiser at Les Halles restaurant for about 400 supporters tomorrow afternoon. Tickets reportedly include good seats for the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue.

One more check

Many campaign donors in an election season that provided record amounts for candidates wrote one more check to help President-elect George W. Bush set yet another fund-raising mark, taking in close to $40 million for his inaugural celebration, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Bush, who raised more than $100 million for his presidential campaign, plus millions more for the Florida recount and his transition, surpassed the $33 million spent by outgoing President Clinton for his 1993 inaugural.

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