- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Empty desks
"The hemisphere calls out for U.S. leadership, but in Washington most of the relevant desks sit empty," Wall Street Journal Editor Robert L. Bartley writes.
"The nomination of Otto Reich as assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere is widely expected to be the first casualty of the new Democratic majority in the Senate. Key Democratic staff members want his scalp in refighting Sandinista-Contra wars of the Reagan administration. John Negroponte, the nominee as U.N. ambassador, also attracts opposition over his role in Central America during the Reagan years," Mr. Bartley said.
"At the Pentagon, meanwhile, the nominees for policy posts are held up in arguments over arms control. And top Treasury spots are held up by Jesse Helms to block textile imports."

The big squeeze
"Envisioning a possible gain of three House seats through redistricting, Republicans who control the process in Michigan are floating a new map that could squeeze four Democratic incumbents into two districts," Roll Call reports.
"Although details of the new plan remained sketchy last week, key sources said the map would force Democratic Reps. Dale Kildee and James Barcia into the same Flint-area district northwest of Detroit. It also would place Rep. John Dingell, the House dean, and four-term Rep. Lynn Rivers into a district south of the city," reporter John Mercurio writes.
"None of the House Democrats anticipated they would face one another when all was said and done, arguing that the proposal is just an opening shot in a battle likely to end up in court. 'This is the first step in a very long dance, Rivers said."
Michigans 16-seat House delegation will shrink by one as a result of reapportionment.
"The GOP expects to pick up a third seat by seizing or eliminating the seat held by Minority Whip David Bonior," the reporter said. "Following GOP threats to erase his district, Bonior announced he would retire to run for governor. Bonior has denied that his decision was motivated by the GOP redistricting threats."

No dumping Jesse
Despite reports that Elizabeth Dole is being courted to run for Sen. Jesse Helms North Carolina Senate seat, Republican leaders said yesterday they are committed to Mr. Helms until he decides to leave office.
Mr. Helms, 79, has said he and his wife, Dorothy, will decide whether he should pursue a sixth term. He is expected to announce his choice by September. Mr. Helms age and health problems have fed rumors that he may leave office. He suffers from a condition that numbs his feet and impairs his balance, and he had knee replacement surgery in 1998.
Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Associated Press yesterday that Mr. Helms has earned the right to decide without pressure.
"Senator Helms has laid down a timetable," Mr. Allen said. "Well wait until then before anything happens with that seat."
The Winston-Salem Journal reported Friday that Republican strategists had discussed a possible Senate bid with Mrs. Dole, a native of Salisbury, N.C., who has served in the Cabinets of two presidents and has led the American Red Cross.
State party Chairman Bill Cobey said he had not talked to Mrs. Dole and didnt know whether she was preparing a Senate bid. He said he believes several potential candidates are quietly lining up consultants and discussing strategy if Mr. Helms retires.
Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, chairman of the Republican senatorial committee, said Sunday he had "mentioned" Senate races while talking to Mrs. Dole, but wouldnt describe their conversations in detail.
"I am going to sit back and wait to see what Jesse Helms does," Mr. Frist said on ABCs "This Week."

Support for Rove
President Bush defended the ethics of senior White House strategist Karl Rove, whose financial interests are under scrutiny by Democrats.
"My level of confidence with Karl Rove has never been higher," Mr. Bush told reporters yesterday. "He is a man who gives me sound advice. He adheres to the ethical rules of our government and hes done a great job on behalf of the American people."
Mr. Bush spoke about the subject one day after Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said Sunday he does not foresee the need to investigate Mr. Rove, the presidents top political adviser, for his contacts with companies in which he owned stock.
Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California is seeking hearings by the House Government Reform Committee.
Mr. Rove owned at least $100,000 in Intel stock when he met with company executives March 12 at the White House. He has said he merely referred them to others in the administration and does not recall raising their concerns about a proposed merger and other matters with Mr. Bush.
Mr. Waxman has asked Mr. Rove to describe what he said in the Intel meeting and any other "meetings, discussions or decisions that might have had a direct impact" on his stocks.
Mr. Roves meeting, first reported last week by the Associated Press, was with Intels chief executive and two lobbyists as they pushed for federal approval of a corporate merger. The administration approved the deal less than two months later.

The energy issue
"The Democratic funk is over. The party that spent the early months of the Bush administration in a defeatist daze has now decided, to its great delight, that energy is an issue ripe for political exploitation," Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Dick Polman writes in a front-page story.
"And it was President Bush himself, in tandem with another former oilman, Vice President Cheney, who bestowed this apparent gift upon the opposition," the reporter said.
"With Senate Democrats launching hearings into alleged cozy ties between the White House and big energy producers, with a sizable sag in Bushs poll ratings, and with many Republicans spooked that the party is being saddled with an anti-environment, anti-consumer image that could spell trouble in the 2002 elections, it seems the Bush honeymoon has run its course."

Telling it like it is
The news media are punishing President Bush for straying from the environmental views favored by the reporters themselves, Newsweeks Evan Thomas says.
"We launder our views through, quote, 'objective critics. And certainly the press is pretty green, the press is pretty pro-environmental and I dont think theres any question that they, as a body, feel that Bush is wrong on the environment," Mr. Thomas, the magazines assistant managing editor, said on CNNs "Reliable Sources."
"Im excluding the conservative press —the Weekly Standard and so forth —but generally the press is pretty green and theyre going to use the Europeans to take the Bushies to task."
The Media Research Center, which quoted Mr. Thomas in a "Media Reality Check" yesterday, described the remarks as a "fit of candor."

Rude Europeans
"We used to call the kind of boorish behavior exhibited this past week by Europeans when President Bush visited bad manners. Especially since the United States and Europe are supposed to be friends," Richard Benedetto writes at USAToday.com.
"But 'manners is a word that seems to have faded out of fashion these days, both here and abroad. In Europe, bashing the U.S. president has become quite fashionable indeed," Mr. Benedetto said.
"And the more outrageous the protest, the more the U.S. media seemed to love it, often giving more coverage to the sideshow than the actual substance of the presidents trip."

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