- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

'The picture of health'

Mary Matalin, assistant to Vice President Richard B. Cheney, yesterday disputed an item in this column that raised concerns about her boss' health at the National Republican Congressional Committee gala Wednesday night.

"It's just not true it's jive," Mrs. Matalin said. "He's the picture of health and hasn't missed a beat. And he's keeping a pretty rigorous schedule. He had his routine checkup last week and here are the facts: His blood pressure, his HDL, his LDL, his cholesterol, the EKG and his blood pressure were all fine. And he lost weight.

Mrs. Matalin added: "I mean, the event was fabulous, the speech [by Mr. Cheney] was fabulous. The only thing I can think of is that he coughed. Maybe it's someone trying to make trouble or something."

Calling their bluff

"Bill Clinton loved to play hearts, but George W. Bush must be a pretty good hand at poker when he has pals over to his ranch to play," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"The campaign-finance fight suggests the new prez knows when to hold and when to fold," Miss Orin said, noting that for years Democrats have been able claim the moral high ground on campaign 'reform' while knowing that Republicans would kill it. But Mr. Bush, by suggesting he is ready to sign whatever version of 'McCain-Feingold' should pass Congress, has destroyed the Democrats' dearest hopes and put them on the spot, the columnist said.

"A Bush veto would have been a triple play for Dems they'd get to claim the moral high ground, create political 'noise' to distract Bush from his tax-cut push, and avoid the fund-raising reforms that many Dems now fear will backfire against them," Miss Orin said yesterday, as the Senate prepared to take up the bill again.

Instead, it is the Democrats whose bluff is being called: They face a choice of voting for a bill that probably will hurt them more than the Republicans or of reversing course and risking catcalls from their media cheerleaders.

Democratic cash

The campaign wing of House Democrats yesterday hailed a record fund-raising effort in the first quarter of this year.

New York Rep. Nita M. Lowey, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced that the committee had raised $7.5 million in the first three months of 2001, compared to $3 million in the first quarter of 1997 and $6.9 million in the first quarter of 1999.

The latest tally was a record for a non-election year.

"House Democrats are working together as a team and exceeding even my expectations," Mrs. Lowey said in a prepared statement. "The energy level among Democrats across the country is thrilling and this energy will give us the momentum we need to win the House back."

Meanwhile, the campaign arm of House Republicans held a dinner Wednesday that raised an estimated $7 million almost as much as much as the Democrats raised in three months.

A tale of 2 nominees

When President Clinton nominated Gov. William Weld, Massachusetts Republican, to be ambassador to Mexico in 1997, Sen. Jesse Helms said, in effect: No way, Jose.

But now that another somewhat liberal Massachusetts Republican governor, Paul Cellucci, has been nominated to be ambassador to Canada, Mr. Helms sees things differently.

"Apparently he is a pretty good guy," the North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee told the Boston Globe. "Would you vote for him?"

The ranking Democrat on the panel, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, likewise supports quick confirmation for Mr. Cellucci.

However, some Massachusetts conservatives have opposed Mr. Cellucci's nomination, charging that he stood by while homosexual groups sought to impose their agenda on the state's elementary and secondary schools.

The White House hopes to have Mr. Cellucci confirmed by the end of next week, the Globe said.

Goodbye, Heterodoxy

David Horowitz, the leftist-turned-conservative who has recently caused an uproar on college campuses with his ads against slavery reparations, is folding his monthly tabloid, Heterodoxy.

In a letter to subscribers, John Campbell, executive director of Mr. Horowitz's Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture, writes that the center "has made a decision to fold its flagship publication, Heterodoxy, into our thriving online webzine Frontpagemag.com and will soon discontinue the printed version."

Mr. Horowitz founded Heterodoxy in 1992 along with Peter Collier, with whom he had edited radical magazine Ramparts back in their left-wing days in the 1960s. With its stark black-and-white newsprint design and its provocative articles, Heterodoxy emulated the style of "underground" newspapers of 30 years ago.

But Heterodoxy operated "at a loss, utilizing much needed funds" from the Center, Mr. Campbell explains to subscribers.

Through Frontpagemag.com, Heterodoxy subscribers "will still be able to read all the insightful pieces you have become accustomed to and this new medium will help redirect our resources in more efficient ways."

A law against lying

Iowa state legislators voted Wednesday to make lying on the campaign trail a crime, and to crack down on increasingly popular "push polls" designed to slur rival candidates.

The House unanimously approved the measure to make "false information in political material" a crime and sent it to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved next month, the Associated Press reports.

The measure would prohibit candidates from saying things about a rival that a candidate "knows to be untrue, deceptive, or misleading." Those convicted could be sentenced up to a year in jail, or fined $1,500.

The measure was written in response to the increasing popularity of "push polls," or phone calls not intended to sample public opinion, but designed to aid a candidate.

Texas gallantry

In the unlikely conversation category, file the chance encounter of House Majority Leader Dick Armey with Sarah Ferguson.

The two met yesterday after lobbyist Liz Robbins, who was squiring the former Duchess of York around the Capitol, flagged down the Texas Republican.

The two chatted briefly Mr. Armey with trademark homespun colloquialisms, the Duchess with understated regality.

"I ask simple questions, because I am just a simple country girl," she offered disarmingly. She then asked whether the Texan was a cowboy.

Mr. Armey allowed that he had been known to ride a horse, but added with typical self-deprecation, "just because you have your father's spurs, that does not make you a cowboy."

Mr. Armey then showed himself, instead, to be a knight.

The conversation somehow had veered to parrots, leading Fergie to offer to recount an off-color joke regarding one.

Mr. Armey, protecting the lady's honor, pointed to a reporter and warned, "You do know there is a member of the press here?"

"Never mind," the Duchess said, honor intact, turning with the majority leader to walk away.

Bush at 60% in poll

President Bush's approval rating stood at 60 percent after two months in office, but fell 7 points in the past 30 days as U.S. voters became more worried about the country's direction, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released yesterday.

The survey of 1,000 voters, conducted by Zogby International from Monday to Wednesday, found Mr. Bush with a 60 percent approval rating, compared to 67 percent one month ago.

However, that was still higher than the 54 percent favorable rating he enjoyed in January, just before taking office.

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