- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Go figure

Days after ridiculing some members of his own CNN staff for observing Ash Wednesday, AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner last night was presented with the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hasty pudding?

Harvard's new president, Larry Summers, has more in common with another famous Harvard alum and Washington figure, Robert Rubin, than the university's directors may realize.

Besides their Harvard degrees and their tenures as secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, both Mr. Rubin and Mr. Summers managed to get tangled up in Cobell vs. Norton, a lawsuit that accuses Treasury of mismanaging $90 billion in individual Indian trust accounts.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth found Mr. Rubin and his Cabinet colleague, then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, in contempt of court on Feb. 22, 1999, after they repeatedly violated a court order to stop destroying Indian trust documents. Mr. Summers was deputy Treasury secretary at the time.

It turned out that during the contempt trial, Treasury workers in suburban Maryland destroyed another 160 boxes of trust records, a fact that six Treasury officials hid from Judge Lamberth for four months.

A court-appointed special master who investigated that lapse later called Treasury's Indian trust system clearly out of control. On Nov. 2, Mr. Summers, who by then had succeeded Mr. Rubin as secretary, filed with Judge Lamberth, under seal, the results of Treasury's internal investigation of the six officials' document-destruction cover-up.

The Indian plaintiffs and Dow Jones & Co. Inc., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, immediately asked that the report be made public. A decision is pending.

The Indian plaintiffs also asked Judge Lamberth to impose sanctions, possibly including contempt, against Mr. Summers for filing a frivolous motion to seal the report. That matter is also pending.

Judge Lamberth socked Mr. Rubin and Mr. Babbitt with more than $600,000 in penalties, but emphasized that next time, the Treasury secretary not the taxpayers would pay the price, possibly including jail time.

If that happens, Mr. Summers will be off to a fast start as a Harvard president of distinction.

Unorganized Congress

Apparently it's not the deed but the doer that matters.

Or perhaps, says Public Service Research President David Denholm, the outrage by "the pooh-bahs of organized labor … at having lost the presidential election has clouded their memory."

In March 1989, when then-President George Bush refused to order a 60-day cooling off period in one highly publicized airline strike, organized labor and its allies in the media and Congress "threw a temper tantrum," Mr. Denholm tells this column.

Now, President George W. Bush does exactly what the aforementioned "excoriated his father for failing to do and they are equally upset," he says, referring to Mr. Bush's intervention in the contract dispute between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union.

Mr. Denholm says the American public shouldn't be fooled by the switch, noting the union bosses' real concern is that a cooling-off period is the first step in a process that could lead to congressional action to resolve such disputes.

"In 1989, union lackeys dominated Congress," he explains. "Now, they don't have quite so firm a grip."

Malcolm rewrite

Andrew Malcolm, longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author, quit writing, moved to Montana, and became press secretary to then-Montana Gov. Marc Racicot only to be snagged by George W. Bush as deputy communications manager for the Bush presidential campaign. Later he turned down a top post in the Bush administration. Now he is "falling off the wagon after eight years of being sober and a recovering journalist."

"I'm going back to newspapers," Mr. Malcolm says from his home near Helena, Mont.

He'll join the Los Angeles Times editorial board by month's end with a broad mandate to write on myriad topics, often from his Montana home.

"My kind of L.A. commute," he tells this column.

Pig stories

Veteran pork opponent Sen. John McCain of Arizona will help release the 2001 "Congressional Pig Book," profiling some of the most egregious pork projects.

The annual eye-opener will provide countless examples of how members of Congress circumvent budget rules to bring home the bacon, and Citizens Against Government Waste says this year's pork barrel is "running over" in record amounts.

The book pays particular attention to the "Dirty Dozen" 12 states garnering the most pork per capita: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia."


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