- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Uncivil rights

"It´s bad enough that Mary Frances Berry leaked the U.S. Civil Rights Commission report on the Florida vote to The Washington Post and New York Times before she had collected formal responses to it from public officials like Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris. It´s also a small outrage that Abigail Thernstrom, the commission´s sole Republican, didn´t receive a copy until this morning — some hours (or days?) after certain handpicked members of the press got to pore over it," John J. Miller wrote yesterday at nationalreview.com .

"And the report itself is a disgrace: A partisan attack on the legitimacy of President Bush´s election from a body that failed to uncover a single example of actual voter discrimination, despite having nearly seven months to do so," Mr. Miller said.

"But in the midst of all this is an indignity that must not be lost: Commissioner Russell Redenbaugh is blind. Although he is technically an independent member of the commission, he is a Republican appointee who forms, with Thernstrom, a small voting bloc that often futilely opposes Berry´s majority of six Democratic members. Like Thernstrom, Redenbaugh didn´t get a chance to see the report until this morning except that 'seeing´ isn´t really how he absorbs information. Every commissioner has a special assistant, but Redenbaugh´s is the only one who must read all relevant commission documents to her boss. Perhaps later today Redenbaugh will hear about the report´s section on the problems disabled voters faced in Florida, particularly the ones with visual impairments this is an actual piece of the commission´s latest work.

"On May 22, Redenbaugh sent a memo to Berry asking her when he might have a copy of the Florida report. For months, its public release has been set for this Friday, at the commission´s next meeting. But he received no response from Berry.

"This morning´s New York Times whose story on the report is actually quite good, as opposed to The Washington Post´s sensationalized front-page treatment quotes Thernstrom as calling the early release 'a procedural travesty.´

"Considering the way this so-called civil rights commission has dealt with its single disabled member — couldn´t someone have given a draft a week ago? — it is also a civil rights travesty. Berry had the unbelievable gall to keep this report out of a blind man´s hands so that she might control what others see."

Clinton vs. Gore

Bill Clinton and Al Gore really did come to despise each other — even before last year´s presidential campaign — and neither man has spoken to the other since they left office, Vanity Fair reports.

"Clinton drove Gore nuts," one of Mr. Gore´s former aides told the magazine.

President Clinton´s indecisiveness and lack of punctuality irked Mr. Gore. And Mr. Gore´s insistence on helping out with every decision did not endear him to Mr. Clinton. Mr. Clinton´s sex scandal didn´t help either.

"If people are shocked now by the way the relationship hit the skids, they shouldn´t be. There was an almost unnatural suppression and denial in the first six years," the ex-Gore aide said.

Mr. Gore, taking the advice of feminist Naomi Wolf to become the Democrats´ "Alpha male," campaigned without Mr. Clinton, which in turn drove Mr. Clinton "nuts," another White House aide said.

The antipathy even extended to the men´s wives, another anonymous source told the magazine.

"Hillary thinks that Tipper is an unintellectual, nice lady who doesn´t have a brain in her head. Tipper thinks Hillary is an ambitious, rather uncoordinated, grasping, difficult woman," the source said.

A contradiction

Steve Grossman, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, donated $2,500 to supporters of a 1998 referendum on public financing of political campaigns in Massachusetts. The "Clean Elections" referendum won approval, but Mr. Grossman has decided to finance his own campaign for governor rather than accept government cash, the Boston Globe reports.

In fact, Mr. Grossman already has spent more than $750,000, though the election is a year and a half away, reporter Rick Klein writes. He plans to rely on such political celebrities as former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and former President Clinton to help publicize his campaign and raise cash.

One analyst told the Globe that Mr. Grossman, who is independently wealthy, might spend as much as $12 million, which would be a record.

Said Mr. Grossman: "A level playing field to me says equal ability for candidates to get their message out, and let the chips fall where they may. I´m competing at a severe disadvantage because of the vast amount of money have already spent on other campaigns."

Scranton´s decision

William W. Scranton III, a former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, has decided not to seek the Republican nomination for governor, disappointing what the Philadelphia Inquirer described as party "moderates."

Mr. Scranton cited family and business considerations.

"Scranton had been encouraged to run by moderate GOP notables who believed he would be more electable next fall than conservative Attorney General Mike Fisher, the front-runner for the Republican nomination," reporter Thomas Fitzgerald writes.

Mr. Scranton ran for governor in 1986 but narrowly lost to Democrat Robert P. Casey Sr. Mr. Scranton´s father served as governor from 1963 to 1967. The late Mr. Casey´s son Robert P. Casey Jr. is competing with former Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Media kisses

The TV network morning news shows were throwing bouquets to new Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday, the Media Research Center reports.

For example, Lisa Myers was positively reverent in describing Mr. Daschle for her "Today" audience.

The South Dakota Democrat is an "unpretentious Midwesterner described by colleagues as mild-mannered, straightforward, even nice," Miss Myers told millions of NBC viewers.

"Beneath the friendly exterior is a shrewd, tenacious politician … skilled at holding his party together … Daschle is adept at striking just the right political note," Miss Myers said.

Lest anyone think that all newly installed congressional leaders get such love notes from network TV reporters, the MRC´s Rich Noyes points to an interview former "Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel did on Jan. 4, 1995 the day before Republican Newt Gingrich ascended to the House speaker´s post.

To Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt, Mr. Gumbel said, "You called Gingrich and his ilk 'trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion and fear.´ Do you think Americans are in need of protection from that group?"

Naked revenge

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush got revenge on his older brother at a rally Monday in Tampa.

President Bush had scored big laughs at a nationally televised dinner in April by showing a naked photo of brother Jeb as a toddler. At a rally Monday with his brother, Jeb Bush said Floridians don´t go in for such pranks.

"We don´t deal in retribution because people think it´s too cheeky," Jeb Bush said.

With that, the president´s own baby photo flashed on a large screen. It showed him asleep on his stomach with his bare bottom, facing the camera.

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