- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

It's getting ugly

The more liberal precincts in the media are working overtime to besmirch President-elect George W. Bush's Cabinet choices, especially attorney general nominee John Ashcroft.
The Los Angeles Times in its Wednesday "Drawingboard" published an editorial cartoon with six pointy-headed dunces, one of whom was in Ku Klux Klan garb. The caption said: "Some of Bush's Cabinet choices."
And Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory, always a reliable indicator of liberal opinion, yesterday used the left's all-purpose epithet for conservatives, describing Mr. Ashcroft as a "right-wing extremist."
However, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert was slightly more creative, calling Mr. Ashcroft "a shameless and deliberately destructive liar" who "reached into the gutter and scooped up a few handfuls of calumny" to throw at judicial nominee Ronnie White.

Volunteers sought

Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt, in a manifesto against the nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general, suggested that Missouri Sen. Jean Carnahan and Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman might be recruited to lead the charge.
Former Sen. Ashcroft "is praised by supporters for his supposedly 'gracious' concession" to Mrs. Carnahan after he lost to her husband, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, despite the fact that the governor was no longer living, the columnist noted.
"But he lost by 51,000 votes; senators on the fence ought to ask Jean Carnahan whether she thinks her predecessor was 'gracious,' " Mr. Hunt urged.
However, the only way Mr. Ashcroft could be seriously challenged is if "a respected senator" steps forward to do the job, Mr. Hunt added.
"There is one Democratic senator who fits that bill: Does Joe Lieberman have the political mettle to do it?" Mr. Hunt asked.

No volunteer here

But the effort to recruit liberal Republicans to oppose John Ashcroft's nomination as attorney general received a setback yesterday when he was endorsed by Sen. Susan Collins.
The Maine Republican, a pro-choice party centrist, said yesterday after a 20-minute meeting with Mr. Ashcroft that she had raised the issue and was satisfied with his response.
"I have the utmost confidence that he is going to enforce all the laws on the books," Mrs. Collins said. She said she believes "a lot of misinformation" has been spread about whether Mr. Ashcroft, a former Missouri senator, supports the ban on violence against abortion clinics.
"In fact, he has always supported that law," she said, pointing out Mr. Ashcroft had voted for a related measure.

Bonior's choice

Michigan Rep. David E. Bonior, the House Democratic whip, is considering a run for governor in 2002, the Hill newspaper's Mary Shaffrey reports.
"I am assessing where I can best serve the people of my state," Mr. Bonior told the reporter. "There is an opportunity to serve as governor and I am looking into it."
Republican Gov. John Engler, who has served since 1990, is term-limited.
Mr. Bonior said he has not made a final decision, but has spoken with House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and with community and business leaders in his home state. He emphasized that he will continue to fulfill his responsibilities as the second-ranking Democrat in the House.
"I am looking for acceptance by enough people that this is a worthwhile thing for me to do before I make my decision," Mr. Bonior said.
With reapportionment following the 2000 census, Michigan will lose one House seat. Republicans control the Legislature and Mr. Bonior's district would likely be dramatically redrawn or eliminated. However, Mr. Bonior said that has nothing to do with a possible run for governor.

Downright dangerous

"It is merely unseemly for Clinton, in payback mood as he departs, to appoint midnight judges or change ethics regulations that will enable his aides to profit as lobbyists in a revolving door; those are the last twitches of his permanent campaign. But it's downright dangerous for this president to saddle his successor with a lopsided [Mideast] proposal that voters in Israel are duty bound to reject," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.
"… In his zeal to be remembered as a peacemaker at whatever cost to the security of Israel and the sanctity of its religious identity Clinton is raising unfillable Arab hopes and passing on to his successor the increased risk of a Mideast war," Mr. Safire said.
"Silence from George W. Bush is assent. Jewish Americans, about the only ethnic group not represented in his Cabinet choices, voted overwhelmingly for his opponent and earned no political call on the president-elect. But all Israel's friends here deserve better than a one-president-at-a-time brushoff."

Follow the directions

The Republican Party, a judicial-watchdog group and the members of the media broke the seal Wednesday on 10,650 Miami-Dade County ballot cards that registered no vote in the Nov. 7 election, Cox News Service reports.
One thing was clear: Dozens of voters didn't follow directions, reporters Clay Lambert and Bill Douthat said.
The Palm Beach Post eyeballed 1,364 ballots Wednesday during the count on the 18th floor of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. Of those, 263 were clear punches for numbers that didn't correspond to any presidential candidate and Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections David Leahy thinks he knows why.
Mr. Leahy demonstrated how voters may have failed to insert their ballot card into the slot of the Votomatic machines. Instead, he thinks these voters simply laid the cards over the machine.
As a result the arrow pointing to George W. Bush properly No. 4 on the card appears to be aimed at No. 5 on the card. The arrow pointing to No. 6 Al Gore appears to point to No. 7. Of the odd-numbered votes, 165 were No. 7 and may have been intended for Gore and 75 were No. 5 and represent potential Bush voters.
"That's the only thing I can figure out what they did," Mr. Leahy said.

Widow won't run

The widow of Rep. Julian C. Dixon, California Democrat, says she will not run for her husband's seat in Congress.
"I have a business that I am now operating. It is the business that I enjoy. [Holding public office] is not something I feel I could do and be as effective as Julian. I don't have the feeling in my gut that he had. I want to put that rumor to rest. I will not be pursuing my husband's seat in Congress," Mrs. Dixon told the Los Angeles Times.
Mr. Dixon died last month of a heart attack after minor surgery.
The race in the overwhelmingly Democratic district in West Los Angeles is expected to attract a crowd and could turn out to be tough, mean-spirited and brutal, one political observer told reporter John L. Mitchell.

Reno's pickup truck

Attorney General Janet Reno has finally bought a red pickup truck for the cross-country tour she's long promised to take after leaving office.
She refused to disclose the make. "I can't tell you that. That would be advertising something," she told reporters yesterday.
Aides, requesting anonymity, said it was a used Ford Ranger, the Associated Press reports.
And Miss Reno couldn't say whether it has a standard or automatic transmission. "Don't know. I haven't seen it yet."
The purchase was made for her in Florida by her brother-in-law, Jim Hurchalla, the aides said. As a result, for the first time she joined millions of ordinary Americans in not paying the full original asking price, they added.
As a public official for most of her adult life, Miss Reno insisted on paying the sticker price for automobiles so she could not be accused of accepting a sweetheart deal based on her office.

Elian came first

Smith Bagley has been out of the news since he paraded Elian Gonzalez before his political pals at his home here in Washington. But Mr. Bagley, heir to the R.J. Reynolds fortune, quietly hosted a dinner for outgoing first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton this week to mark her ascendance to the Senate, the New York Post reports.
The party for 100 included Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, reporter Vincent Morris writes.

Justice sends warning

Justice Department officials sought to have independent counsel David M. Barrett fired for expanding his investigation of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros to include accusations of wrongdoing by Justice, Fox News reported last night.

The news organization said Mr. Barrett had focused on accusations that senior department officials improperly tried to influence the IRS after the independent counsel's office began looking into possible tax fraud by Cisneros.

Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 to lying to the FBI during a background investigation about payments he made to a former mistress.

Department sources told The Washington Times last night that Mr. Barrett's office was advised that the tax investigation did not fall within his mandate and, as a result, was not within his jurisdiction. Justice and IRS officials later investigated the tax case and declined to prosecute, the sources said.

Mr. Barrett has presented evidence to a federal grand jury in the tax case for the past 10 months, although no indictment has been returned. The attorney general can remove an independent counsel for cause, although the matter can be appealed by the special prosecutor to the federal court panel that oversees independent counsels.

Fox News said more than a dozen IRS employees had been called to testify before the grand jury.


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