- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2001

Poetic license

Former vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York were two of the Democrats on hand to hear their party's newly elected senator from Delaware, Thomas R. Carper, heap praise on Republican President George W. Bush.

"During the last campaign there were a number of things and I probably shouldn't say it with my Democratic colleagues here but there were a number of things proposed by then-Governor Bush that then-Governor Carper agreed with," acknowledged Mr. Carper, Delaware's former governor, who cited among other things Mr. Bush's proposals on education reform and refundable tax credits.

"There were elements of Governor Bush's campaign for the president where he campaigned in poetry. That made a whole lot of sense to this governor," Mr. Carper explained.

To which Mr. Lieberman piped up: "Now you tell me."

Man of his time

J. Edgar Hoover has been "vilified and misrepresented" by detractors ever since his death, the retired head of the FBI's intelligence division, former Assistant Director Ray Wannall, writes in his new book, "The Real J. Edgar Hoover: For The Record."

Responsible for FBI operations in intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, security and espionage during his 34 years with the bureau, Mr. Wannall tells this column he wrote the book for his son and daughter, who "admired and respected the director, as did their mother and father."

"They have been much reassured about the real J. Edgar Hoover by the portrait I have been able to paint of him," says Mr. Wannall, who became a familiar face in Washington as the FBI's chief witness before congressional committees.

His Turner Publishing Co. portrait of Mr. Hoover is a deeply intimate one, filled with anecdotes revealing Mr. Hoover's personal side, including on the issue of race.

Valeria "Val" B. Stewart, the former head nurse in the FBI's health office, recalls when Mr. Hoover's bodyguard and chauffeur, agent James E. Crawford, remarked: "I'm so tired of people saying that Mr. Hoover discriminates against the blacks.

"When we would stop for dinner at a restaurant, Mr. Hoover was frequently told they would not serve me," Mr. Crawford said. "He would say, 'We won't eat here either,' and he and whoever was with him would leave and eat at a place that would serve all of us."

A far cry, Mr. Wannall says, from the writings of respected journalists such as Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, singled out in the book for carrying out "what might best be described as a personal vendetta against the director's reputation."

"Since his death in 1972, the elite media of the United States have often sifted the facts regarding his stewardship of the FBI through their own ideological sieve and created a climate which has popularized the sport of vilifying him," Mr. Wannall writes, "with hardly an outcropping of truth, conscience or integrity."

Another well-known retired FBI assistant director, Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach, who spoke with the director almost every day, says in the book he never heard Mr. Hoover utter a single racial epithet or say anything that suggested he regarded any minority with contempt.

"For a man of his time," says Mr. DeLoach, "he was remarkably free of such prejudices."

Bring on the pork

The U.S. senator most often criticized for taking home more than his share of bacon to his impoverished constituents is making no apologies after the latest wave of congressional pork attacks.

"I have no apologies to make for serving my people," says Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, just days after Citizens Against Government Waste issued its 2001 congressional pork list.

"I know who sends me here," says Mr. Byrd. "I grew up in West Virginia when we had only four miles of divided four-lane highway in the whole state. This money, so called 'pork,' doesn't go overseas. It goes to help people in West Virginia their schools, their highways on which to get to work or just to go to the grocery store or go to the schools or to the doctor or to the hospital.

"Those highways I helped to build with that kind of 'pork' have saved a lot of lives. It is much safer to drive on those highways in West Virginia than down through the curves and hollows and along the deep ravines where one can't see up ahead beyond that next curve," says the one-time Senate majority leader.

"I know West Virginia, and what is one man's pork is another man's job."

Train has sailed

The press has been fierce in its criticism of President Bush's occasional solecisms and grammatical misdemeanors, although those of us covering the president can be just as prone to such a lapse.

Take MSNBC's David Gregory, hammering Bush Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan at last Friday's White House briefing: "What message do you think it sends that the president says he wants a campaign finance bill, but to get it, he's going to back another horse in the fight?"

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