- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2001

The 'A4' president

"With the Senate consumed by its historic debate on campaign finance reform this week, President Bush has spent most of his time talking about energy and taxes two of his long-standing priorities," Ronald Brownstein notes in a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times.
"It's a signature of his presidency: he focuses single-mindedly, almost relentlessly, on a handful of priorities, even when other issues are dominating Washington and the headlines. Indeed, to an almost unprecedented degree, this White House has shown that it is willing to trade a lighter public presence for a tighter legislative focus," Mr. Brownstein said.
"The result is that Bush may be the first 'A4' president: entirely comfortable repeating familiar arguments for his proposals, even if that means appearing on an inside page of the newspaper's front section, such as Page A4, that attracts far less attention than Page 1."
The reporter added: "In an assessment difficult to imagine from almost any contemporary administration, one senior Bush adviser even said that generating more headlines might actually make it more difficult for the president to achieve his goals.
" 'The president is committed to seeing that certain things are accomplished, and the way you do that is by working within the system and not by generating the most press,' said the adviser, who asked to remain anonymous while discussing White House strategy. 'Certain times the things you need to generate press i.e., introduce something new or create controversy are counterproductive for your main goal.' "

Which Lieberman?

"Now that his moment in the national spotlight has receded, Joe Lieberman wants everyone to know that he really didn't mean all those wild-eyed things he was forced to say as Al Gore's running mate," New York Post columnist Eric Fettmann writes.
"In a remarkable interview last week with Ellen Gamerman of the Baltimore Sun, the former Democratic vice-presidential candidate admitted that, truth be told, he didn't share all those 'soak the rich' broadsides on which he and Gore ran," Mr. Fettman said.
" 'I've never been one for class warfare,' said Lieberman. 'Some of the rhetoric in the campaign the "people vs. the powerful" in general terms is not the approach that I feel comfortable with.'
"Now he tells us," Mr. Fettman said, noting that the pious Connecticut Democrat spent the entire campaign insisting that he had not changed a single position.
"Lieberman is already looking ahead to 2004, though he says he won't run for president if Gore decides on a return shot. Which raises the question: Which Joe Lieberman is going to go for the gold ring the one who needs middle-class votes to win the general election, or the one who needs hard-left ideology to win the nomination?"

Linkletter's ad

"Politicians say the darnedest things," Art Linkletter says in a new radio ad that urges listeners to press their senators to vote for President Bush's tax-cut plan.

The 60-second spot, sponsored by the United Seniors Association, is aimed at Republicans Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Democrat Max Baucus of Montana, Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Republican James M. Jeffords of Vermont senators who are considered swing voters on the issue.

Here is part of the ad: "Hello there, I'm Art Linkletter. Remember my TV show a long time ago, 'Kids Say the Darnedest Things'? Well, these days I'm honorary chairman of a group called United Seniors Association. And let me tell you, today it seems like politicians say the darnedest things like 'tax cuts are a risky scheme' or 'tax cuts will only help the rich.' Nonsense. We need tax cuts right now to inject badly needed fuel into our economic engine. That's why I'm asking you to call Congress right now. Support President Bush's bipartisan tax-cut plan. Even America's most powerful senior citizen, Alan Greenspan, says it's better to cut taxes than let Washington spend more of your money."

Dangers of infighting

"It will be good if President Bush runs a foreign policy that prevents fighting around the world. It will be amazing if he prevents fighting among his advisers while doing so," Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald F. Seib writes.
"Why? It's simple: The biggest feet in the administration belong to three old national-security pros Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who are self-confident figures with no particular need to be shy in expressing themselves. There is reason to suspect they have different impulses, and virtual certainty that the agencies they oversee have different views. The person who most has the president's ear, meanwhile, is a fourth figure, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice," Mr. Seib said.
"This all comes to mind because the Bush team this week is face to face with one of its most explosive and potentially divisive issues: Selling arms to Taiwan… ."
Team Bush "is doing its best to minimize the risk" of infighting, the columnist said. "Ms. Rice holds a daily conference call with Messrs. Powell and Rumsfeld, administration officials say. The three also hold a weekly lunch, and Mr. Cheney has an open invitation to sit in. He has done so several times already. Though Ms. Rice's influence is obvious to careful listeners who note the distinct similarity between her language and the words Mr. Bush uses, she has been careful to remain deferential to her Cabinet colleagues."

This could be fun

"Strong buzz on Capitol Hill that Republican congressman and former schoolteacher Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania is heading for Moscow as the next U.S. ambassador," United Press International reports.
"It sounds like a consolation prize for not getting the chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee, where at least he got to know Secretary of State Colin Powell. Weldon certainly knows Russia, having served as co-chairman of the Congress-Duma committee," the wire service said in its "UPI Hears" column.
"The Bush team likes the idea of sending the Kremlin a fervent supporter of national missile defense. This could be fun. Russia watchers still recall the extraordinary speech he made in Congress on Jan. 27 last year, claiming that President Clinton's State Department tried to sabotage and even bug his meetings in Moscow 'like it was out of a James Bond movie.' Down in Foggy Bottom, they call him Crazy Curt, which should make for interesting workplace relations in the Moscow embassy."

Gorby's sailing gig

"Our side hasn't RSVP'd yet, but former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has agreed to chair the U.S.-Russian Presidential Gala voyage on the USS Sequoia, the old presidential yacht," Paul Bedard writes in the daily Internet version of U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers column (www.usnews.com).
"Both President Bush and his dad, former Presidents Carter and Ford, and several senators are on the invite list for the April 22 voyage," Mr. Bedard said.
"Gorby will be here to launch the Raisa Gorbachev Memorial Fund for Leukemia Research and Treatment for Children, named for his wife, who died of the disease. Our sources say that while Gorby wants to huddle with Washington political bigs, he's really hopeful of meeting Vice President Dick Cheney and swapping old stories.
"The brunch voyage comes as the Sequoia Presidential Yacht Foundation is raising enough cash to buy the vessel from private owner Gary Silversmith. The group plans to redesignate the boat the official presidential yacht and make it available for use by the prez and his staff."

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