- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

McCains deception

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, by apparently orchestrating leaks that he might quit the GOP, followed by denials that he had any such intention, has damaged his image as a straight talker, New York Times columnist William Safire says.

"Oh, it was cunning, all right, to have his acolytes put out a threat to bolt so he could graciously and ostentatiously 'put an end to further speculation,´" Mr. Safire writes.

"But the orchestrated rumor flotation and denial was too clever by half and, as such, was the worst strategy for McCain. His strength with an idealistic following is as the strength of 10 because his heart has been politically pure. This week´s spinning out of control introduces the impurity of deception.

"He had his men lay a threat on the table and then pretended he had nothing to do with it. That was slick; that was tricky; that was a power player making a move that other politicians well recognize as laying out the power lines of the 'McCain middle.´"

Mr. Safire added: "Some will interpret this column as the hinted defection of a longtime admirer. But such a bolt would require an accumulation of dishonest manipulations, a scenario I do not envision transpiring, and I thus would not have cause or plan to leave McCainiac ranks. I hope this will put an end to further speculation."

Gore´s behavior

Jim Lehrer, host of "The NewsHour" on PBS, is too polite, or too nonpartisan, to mention the name of a certain former presidential candidate who refused to abide by the rules in debates moderated by Mr. Lehrer last fall. But we know who he was talking about.

Mr. Lehrer, in an interview published in NewsPrint, a newsletter put out by "The NewsHour," said there was "a huge difference" between the previous six presidential debates he had moderated and the three he refereed last fall between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

"The debates themselves were being built up as huge events because the election was so close. And so that put tremendous pressure on the events, which I felt, too," Mr. Lehrer told interviewer Heather Hegedus.

"The second difference was that of all the debates, these were the only three where there was a candidate who did not abide by the rules. There was always some judgment I had to make as to whether or not to move on, whether to stop the debate, whether to stop the candidate, whatever. That brought an element to it that made my work much more difficult."

The candidate´s behavior in those debates has been largely forgotten, except by Mr. Lehrer, but it can be seen now as presaging Mr. Gore´s attempt to win the Florida recount as the title of a recent book by Bill Sammon of The Washington Times says "At Any Cost."

Forest management

Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth is assuming authority over road-building and logging in one-third of the national forests while the Bush administration revises a Clinton administration ban on those activities, the Associated Press reported.

In a memo issued yesterday, Mr. Bosworth instructed Forest Service officials to consider long-term protection of roadless areas in scheduled revisions to the forests´ management plans.

Mr. Bosworth will have authority over timber harvests and road construction in roadless areas until officials overseeing forests have a chance to map existing roads and get approval for possible revisions to the management plans, the memo said.

Mr. Bosworth wrote that he offered the direction in the memo because the policy is the subject of eight lawsuits in seven states.

"It is necessary for the agency to act decisively, proactively, and with common sense to ensure that our efforts to protect roadless values will not be confined to legal proceedings in courtrooms scattered throughout the country," he said.

But one environmental group, blaming the Bush administration, called the memo a go-ahead for commercial logging and road construction on 58.5 million acres of national forests, an area more than twice the size of Ohio.

Setback for the left

"Tuesday´s election (in Los Angeles) ended the city´s eight-year flirtation with civic reform and restored a traditional liberal Democrat, City Attorney James Hahn, to City Hall. Yet in turning away the better-financed and much-ballyhooed candidacy of left-wing firebrand and former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, voters also repudiated an incipient alliance of activist groups that threatened to turn this vast city into a laboratory of social-democratic experimentation," Joel Kotkin writes in the Wall Street Journal.

"Although increasingly liberal and minority, Angelenos, by a decisive 7-point margin, proved too fundamentally cautious to take a chance on the charismatic Mr. Villaraigosa, who was strongly backed by organized labor, environmentalist and feminist groups," said Mr. Kotkin, a senior fellow with the Davenport Institute for Public Policy at Pepperdine University and the Milken Institute.

"The left´s defeat went well beyond the mayor´s race. Candidates backed by labor, environmentalist and Democratic Party organizations lost critical contests for city attorney and the school board, as well as several City Council races most notably, the defeat of radical vagabond Tom Hayden.

"The reverberations should be felt both nationally and across the Golden State. Among those Los Angeles has now given a major migraine are AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney, who hoped to use Mr. Villaraigosa as the poster child for his Latino-labor strategy in the Southwest, and California´s struggling Democratic governor, Gray Davis, who placed much of his battered prestige and millions in party funds behind the Villaraigosa campaign."

Bush the recruiter

Less than six months after his inauguration, President Bush is working to recruit Republican candidates for 2002 elections, a task made more urgent by the Democratic takeover of the Senate.

"You have to attract good candidates in order to do well in an election cycle and now is candidate recruitment time, so it´s appropriate that the leader of the party take a role in that, it´s constructive," White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Reuters reporter Randall Mikkelsen.

So far, aided by White House and Republican Party political operations, Mr. Bush has helped bring St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman to the brink of a challenge against Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and encouraged Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan to make a run for the California governor´s post held by Democrat Gray Davis.

White House and Republican officials said they were eyeing numerous races in their recruitment efforts but declined to identify other races in which Mr. Bush might be called on to personally woo candidates.

Possibilities include Louisiana, where there are two potentially strong Republican candidates; South Dakota, where Republican Rep. John Thune appears to have backed away from challenging Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson despite a lead in an early poll, and Missouri.

Forbes scoffs

Publisher Steve Forbes, who twice has run for the Republican presidential nomination, scoffs at a report on global warming by a committee of the National Academy of Science´s National Research Council.

"As he leaves for Europe, I urge President Bush to remain firm in his laudable position on global warming in the face of this report which betrays inconclusive science and an extremist agenda; executing the Kyoto global warming treaty would do to the American economy what Dr. Kevorkian does to the Hippocratic oath," Mr. Forbes said in a prepared statement released yesterday.

"The United States Senate was correct in rejecting this treaty by a vote of 95-0, a vote led by Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. President Bush has taken the right position on this issue and remaining steadfast will demonstrate true leadership to our European allies."

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