- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2001

Old chums
"Three letters explain how former Clinton attack dog Lanny Davis scored an Air Force One ride to Washington after President Bushs recent Yale University commencement speech: DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon), the fraternity Davis and Bush joined as Yale undergraduates," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"The duo chatted for a long time on the ride home, mostly about the old days, like the time Bush hazed DKE recruit Davis. The lawyer tells us that he faced the normal five-hour hazing, ending with him standing beside a DKE brand shoved in a vat of hot coals. At this point, Bush and the others blindfolded Davis and asked him to lift his shirt. He did. Then Davis felt it: The hot sizzle of skin. But it was only a cigarette. 'They really psyched me out, he says."

A silver lining?

"A Democratic Senate deprives the Left of its optimum issues," Noemie Emery writes in the Weekly Standard.
"'No way will there be drilling in the Alaska wilderness, says Barbara Boxer. No way too will this now be a large issue for future elections, and the environment is the one thing largely responsible for driving down Bushs favorable ratings. No one who came near a television set in the last several months could escape the deluge of stories about the rape of the land, the rape of the wilderness, the rape of the courts by fierce right-wing judges — all guaranteed to whip the liberal base into frenzies, and stir tremors in undecided soccer moms," the writer said.
"If the land is unraped, if the courts are no more than gently molested by the kind of judges who pass through a post-Jeffords Senate, then the Left will have run out of red flags to wave in front of people who would otherwise be happy enough with a Bush administration that managed to skirt catastrophe on the economic and the foreign fronts. Since Democrats tend to run mainly on fear, this is no small thing. And because this will no longer be an option, Bush will be freed from the temptation to push through conservative hobbyhorses on narrow party-line votes. This moves him closer to the real objective: the longer, harder, more complicated job of building a broad, stable, center-right governing party that provides the basis for long-term conservative rule after he himself has passed from the scene."

Hey, big spender

Democrats set to become chairmen of the Senates 14 most prominent committees have proposed spending increases in recent years that range from two to 20 times more than their Republican predecessors, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation calculates.
Over the past six years, these Democrats have proposed almost four times the spending of their Republican counterparts — an increase of $36.6 billion, the foundation said. That comes to about $366 billion over 10 years, "roughly equal to the amount that Sen. Jim Jeffords, Vermont independent, once a Republican, sought to slash from President Bushs tax cut."
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who will take over the Appropriations Committee, "is the only one of the incoming 14 chairs who has not introduced a single bill that would reduce federal spending," the foundation said. "He is also the only member in the entire Senate who has not offered spending cut legislation for three congresses in a row (six years total)."

Republican feud

"Reps. Steve Buyer and Brian Kerns should be allies. They are both lifelong Hoosiers. They are both staunchly conservative Republicans. They represent adjacent congressional districts in central Indiana. They are of the same generation; Mr. Buyer is 42 and Mr. Kerns is 44," New York Times reporter Richard L. Berke writes.
"But there is deep hostility between the two incumbents that can be traced to last December, when Indiana learned it would lose one congressional seat in 2002. Thanks to the cartographical handiwork of Democrats, who control the state House and the critical redrawing of the states congressional maps, Mr. Kerns and Mr. Buyer suddenly find themselves lumped in the same district," Mr. Berke said.
"So instead of working together for the people of Indiana, they are clawing at each other, driven by the rawest of political impulses: survival.
"Each man claims, stubbornly and passionately, that Indianas new Fourth Congressional District — stretching from the flat prairie in the north-central part of the state to some of the hilliest landscapes nearly 200 miles south — is rightfully his."

A question of numbers

Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, was asked Saturday whether he and Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, have the 60 votes needed to break a possible Republican filibuster of their HMO reform bill.
"I think thats a close question, Al, and we dont know exactly how many votes we have," Mr. Edwards told journalist Al Hunt on CNNs "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."
"I think we clearly have in the 50s, just based on the support that we know of. And I think were very close to 60," Mr. Edwards said.

Taming the press

Kate Whitman, daughter of Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Whitman, has joined former New Jersey Rep. Bob Franks Republican gubernatorial campaign as deputy press secretary, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The position that Mr. Franks is seeking was held by Miss Whitmans mother until she left for Washington a few months ago.
Miss Whitman, 24, "recently strolled into the offices of the news media at the Statehouse [in Trenton] to introduce herself," reporter Suzette Parmley writes. "Given her mothers love-hate relationship with the press corps, one couldnt help but ask what kind of advice her mother gave her in dealing with the Fourth Estate.
"'She told me to be careful, Whitman said and chuckled. 'But I already knew that.
"Kate Whitman, whose grandfather was a state Republican Party chairman, and whose great-grandfather was a governor of New York, already had the flack thing down pat. She gave an unsolicited assessment of her new boss.
"'Bob is so dedicated, she said of Franks. 'Hes really the right guy for the job."

Time for a raise

Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot was perhaps the first to suggest that President Bush punish Vermont Sen. James M. Jeffords for refusing to join his Republican colleagues in a vote for the full tax increase proposed by the president. And as everyone knows, Mr. Jeffords recently decided to jump ship, putting the Democrats in charge of the Senate.
"As for those whove blamed this columns previous commentary for Mr. Jeffords departure, thanks for the compliment," Mr. Gigot writes. "Humble Im not, but I never imagined that so many polls marched to my orders. Im putting in for a raise!"

Mother-in-law arrives

"I think the honeymoon is over" for President Bush, says Ken Durberstein, who was White House chief of staff under Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Duberstein, speaking as part of a panel discussion on Mr. Bushs first 100 days at the CNN World Report 2001 Conference here last week, said the current situation, with a Democratic takeover of the Senate, is like newlyweds when the mother-in-law shows up and starts rearranging the furniture.

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