- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2001

Slow learner

Bill Clinton is having trouble learning such simple tasks as how to use a telephone or a bank's automated teller machine, according to a front-page story in yesterday's New York Times.
"The difficulties of Mr. Clinton's personal transition in ways large but also small, like the times he accidentally cut friends off while trying to place his own telephone calls from his makeshift office have become a subject of increased discussion and concern among his friends, even as they plot ways to rehabilitate his image," reporter Adam Nagourney writes.
However, help is on the way.
"After years in which White House operators tracked down whom he wanted when he wanted them, and bid them to wait for Mr. Clinton to come on the line, the 42nd president of the United States now has to make his own telephone calls, from his temporary office at home in Chappaqua. None of this will change, it seems, at least until summer, when his Harlem office should be ready."
Mr. Clinton, whom presidential aides often described as the most intelligent man in the world, is also learning how to use an ATM card, the reporter said.

Fast learner

President Bush, in his speech to Congress this week, eschewed "the overarching moral language of Ronald Reagan, who was guided by philosophy and who would have beat the drum on freedom, on the right of the citizenry to be free of the heavy, grasping hand of government," says Peggy Noonan, who once wrote speeches for Mr. Reagan.
"Mr. Bush is guided by practicality: Let the waitress keep her earnings, let's give the economy the jump start it needs. Hey, let's make sure it starts soon by making the cut retroactive! It was the speech of an MBA with a point of view and a commonsensical approach to achieving it," Mrs. Noonan said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"The speech was also ideologically layered in its assertions. We need character education in the schools and we need more money for reading. We need teacher recruitment and we need local control of the schools. We must support faith-based programs we must end racial profiling! We must retire the debt we must cut taxes! In short, we must be bold, but in a prudent way. Let's put a trillion dollars away right away in case we make a mistake. He gave everyone something to cheer for, and Mr. Bush's real message I'm the least radical guy who ever walked down the block came through loud and clear.
"For a stupid man, he sure is smart."

Unfit for office

The New York Observer, a left-leaning weekly newspaper that has long backed the Clintons, now denounces the couple and calls for Hillary to resign her seat in the U.S. Senate.
The newspaper, in a front-page editorial in its March 5 edition, mocks Mrs. Clinton's claim that she was "heartbroken" over her brother Hugh's role and fees in two controversial pardons by her husband.
"Mrs. Clinton is heartbroken? She's always either heartbroken or disappointed. What about her constituents? Doesn't she feel our shame? After all, her husband felt our pain. Does she not understand our embarrassment? With the nation and indeed the world watching, we entrusted her with the U.S. Senate seat held by Robert F. Kennedy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan," the paper said.
"It is clear now that we have made a terrible mistake, for Hillary Rodham Clinton is unfit for elective office. Had she any shame, she would resign. If federal officeholders were subject to popular recall, she'd be thrown out of office by springtime, the season of renewal," the Observer said.
The newspaper was equally critical of Mr. Clinton, saying that "the image that presents itself is terrifyingly close to the caricature his enemies drew of him. They were right after all… .
"What the critics understandably satisfied to see their judgment confirmed yet again miss is the amount of self-loathing in the Clinton pile-on. Pro-Clinton commentators and colleagues now realize just how much they compromised, just how much they excused, just how ridiculous they looked in their defense of this corrupt couple. The end of the Clinton presidency and the beginning of another Bush era has inspired a round of reflection, and Clinton supporters find they can't look at themselves in the mirror."

Jackals triumph

While sought after as souvenirs, media passes printed with the words "official jackal" were too easy to counterfeit and are no longer required of reporters covering Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, his spokesman said yesterday.
"They were too easy to reproduce. It would be easy enough to do from an old picture of the governor we have in our computers," spokesman Paul Moore said.
Mr. Ventura's office received hundreds of requests, many from reporters, from around the country for copies of the passes printed with the "official jackal" phrase lifted from a subtitle to the outspoken former professional wrestler's last book that lambasted media coverage, Reuters reports.
"The governor likes to know who's a member of the media and who is not," Mr. Moore said of the passes idea. Security passes required by the state's Capitol security force may be substituted.

How to triangulate

Former political consultant Dick Morris, who takes credit for teaching Bill Clinton how to triangulate, says he never heard the concept better defined than with these words by President Bush to Congress:
"Year after year in Washington, budget debates seem to come down to an old tired argument: on one side, those who want more government, regardless of the cost; on the other, those who want less government, regardless of the need. We should leave these arguments to the last century and chart a different course. Our new government vision says government should be active but limited, engaged but not overbearing."
Said Mr. Morris, in a column in the New York Post: "After these opening lines, the new president proceeded to steal the Democratic Party's issues one by one. Helpless to object and obliged to applaud, the opposition had to sit mute and squirm in their seats as Bush picked their issues off one after the other: education, poverty, health care, the elderly, Medicare and Social Security.
"The Democrats finally knew what the GOP felt like when President Clinton proclaimed, from the same podium six years ago, that 'the era of big government is over.' "

Tricky maneuver

Rep. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, has accused state Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian of slander because Mr. Harpootlian said Mr. Graham was "a little too light in the loafers" to succeed Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Mr. Harpootlian, who made the comment last week in a news release issued by the state party, said he had no idea the phrase "light in the loafers" often refers to someone who is homosexual, National Journal's Hotline reports, citing the State newspaper in Columbia.

"I don't believe that for a moment," Mr. Graham said. "Nobody does. It was intended to slander me."

Mr. Harpootlian said his statement was a play on comments made by Bob Jones University President Bob Jones III when Mr. Graham formally declared his candidacy for Senate. Mr. Jones said Mr. Graham is "a big enough man to fill Thurmond's shoes."

Said Mr. Harpootlian: "Bob Jones started the shoe thing. I'm finishing it."

However, the Democrat did succeed in forcing Mr. Graham, a 45-year-old single man, to deny the charge of homosexuality.

Debate pals

New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, writing about Pardongate figure Denise Rich, added: "The night of one of those Gore-Bush TV debates, where did Bill [Clinton] watch it? At Denise's."

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