- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2001

What goes around …

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, has spent recent weeks accusing Attorney General-nominee John Ashcroft of being racially insensitive.
Now Mr. Schumer himself faces charges that he is a racist.
Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, in a Jan. 17 letter to Mr. Schumer, accused the senator of trying to get the Justice Department to derail his plan to create a black-owned airline, the New York Post reports.
"As an African-American businessperson who has a personal net worth significantly greater than the market capitalization of [rival companies] Jet Blue and Air Tran combined, I am offended that you could argue that these two companies deserve an opportunity that should be denied to me," Mr. Johnson wrote.
"It cannot be that you believe that they are better businesspersons; perhaps it is because they are white businesspersons."
Mr. Johnson, in an interview with reporter Fredric U. Dicker, said: "If Schumer was a Republican and not a Democrat, everyone would be jumping up and down saying, 'How dare you not support us?' I'm trying to figure out what the rationale is for someone who is a member of the liberal Democratic Party to oppose DC Air when that party has a fundamental commitment to minority ownership and equal opportunities for minorities."
Asked whether he was accusing Mr. Schumer of racism, Mr. Johnson replied: "If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck and quacks like a duck… ."
Mr. Schumer, in an interview with the Post, denied he is a racist. He said he opposes Mr. Johnson's deal with American Airlines because, in his opinion, it will not bring lower fares or better service to New York state.
Two of New York's top black Democratic officials spoke up in Mr. Schumer's defense. State Comptroller Carl McCall and Rep. Charles B. Rangel said that, in their opinion, Mr. Schumer is not a bigot. They did not say if he might be guilty of racial insensitivity.

Specter's threat

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, threatens to vote against any Supreme Court nominee who does not explicitly promise to uphold Roe vs. Wade, the decision that created the constitutional right to abortion.
In an interview with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb, taped last week and aired Sunday on "Booknotes," Mr. Specter said: "I'm very much concerned about what the Supreme Court is doing. They have taken over a tremendous amount of authority which was a Rehnquist agenda … and we're now facing a situation with Roe vs. Wade where there may be an effort to dismantle Roe vs. Wade."
Mr. Specter said President Bush can win approval for his high court nominees, "providing they are not going to dismantle a woman's right to choose. If they are going to dismantle a woman's right to choose, I believe the Senate is going to be a lot tougher on asking questions about matters that are going to come before the court."
Mr. Lamb then asked the senator: "If [the nominees] won't answer that question, if they do come before you, would you vote for them?"
Mr. Specter replied: "Well, I'm seriously considering that. In light of what's happened in the intervening time, I am supporting Ashcroft; have supported him. But the family-planning money overseas is now in jeopardy and that's a very controversial, contentious issue. And if there's a sense that there is going to be an effort to overturn Roe vs. Wade and this is something I want to talk to others about my inclination would be to insist on answers and assurances and to withhold confirmation absent that."

Cuomo announces run

Andrew M. Cuomo, secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton administration, announced yesterday he would run for New York governor, once the job of his father, Mario Cuomo.

At a star-studded "welcome home" party, the younger Mr. Cuomo said, "I want you to know that I intend to run for governor of the state of New York."

The election is next year, and Mr. Cuomo's announcement sets up a Democratic primary contest against state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, the only black ever elected to statewide office in New York.

Mr. McCall is expected to tell supporters at a $1,000-a-person fund-raiser Thursday night in New York City that he also intends to run for governor.

"We wish Secretary Cuomo well as he tries to reacquaint himself with the issues in New York," McCall campaign spokesman Shawn Thompson told the Associated Press. "If he pursues this, we'll just have to beat him."

Mr. Cuomo said he would file papers with the state Board of Elections today, creating a gubernatorial campaign committee and allowing him to legally raise money for a campaign that could cost more than $20 million.

Recount reunion

"The Florida recount seemed to last forever, and now it seems like forever ago long enough, at any rate, to merit a reunion. Which is exactly what Washington power lobbying firm Patton Boggs hosted the Sunday after Inauguration," Voter.com's Robert Schlesinger writes.
"The hundreds of Republicans who flew (read: were flown) down to Florida in the weeks after Election Day were feted at 'An Inaugural Reception Honoring the Men and Women Who Made it Happen,' as the event's invitation put it.
"The fully catered, open-bar event was hosted by Bush campaign manager (and incoming Federal Emergency Management Agency director) Joe Allbaugh and Bush attorney Ben Ginsberg, a partner at Patton Boggs, which is an investor in Voter.com. (Patton Boggs is a historically Democratic firm, a fact that wasn't lost on the visiting Republicans. 'Everybody's got their price,' one GOP attendee quipped. 'Mine is free glasses of wine.')
"Among the guests at the event were power-lawyer couple Ted and Barbara Olson, and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (remember her?), with whom some partygoers got their pictures snapped.
"Allbaugh got choked up when he spoke to the crowd, thanking them for their help during the difficult postelection phase. Veterans of the '19th-floor riot' the angry protest in Miami-Dade County, which Democrats allege intimidated vote-counters into abruptly ending their recount efforts were awarded T-shirts celebrating their moment of glory. All partygoers were given Lucite paperweights etched with the words 'George W. Bush for President Florida recount team, November 8 to December 13, 2000.' Suspended inside: handfuls of chads."

Winners and losers

Now that the Baltimore Ravens have won the Super Bowl, it's time for Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer to get literary, the Associated Press reports.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, said yesterday she is looking forward to hearing New York's two Democratic senators recite "The Raven" on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The team is named after the classic poem by Edgar Allan Poe, whose grave is in Baltimore.
If the Giants had won the Super Bowl, Miss Mikulski and fellow Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes agreed to sing the Frank Sinatra standard "New York, New York" at the Capitol.
"I expect a phone call within the hour and I want it to be appropriately humble," Miss Mikulski said.
New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also has to pay off his bet with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley tickets to Broadway shows and bathing New York's City Hall in purple lights.

Unusual tactic

"South Dakota has two Democratic [U.S.] senators, but it also has a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. On Wednesday, the latter body voted 49-20 in favor of a resolution asking the senators, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson, to vote to confirm John Ashcroft as attorney general," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at www.Nationalreview.com.
"The resolution was the idea of conservative activist Grover Norquist, who plans to use the tactic again."


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