- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2001

First Hispanic president

"Some years ago, the novelist Toni Morrison, in a Time essay, proclaimed Bill Clinton America´s first black president," Richard Rodriguez writes in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

"Leaving aside the affront to American blacks that Ms. Morrison´s conceit carries today, it might be useful to regard George Bush as America´s first Hispanic president," said Mr. Rodriguez, an editor with Pacific News Service.

"It´s not just his ability to speak Spanish or his recent White House celebration of Cinco de Mayo. George Bush, I think, sees Texas as a state of el norte. And when he imagines the future, he thinks of the north and the south. Maybe that is the reason for his optimism: the north and the south, Alaska to Patagonia, extend farther, suggest a future wider, than the American future bounded by coastlines.

"Along with his far northern ambition for the Alaskan wilderness, Mr. Bush has broached with the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, the possibility of building power plants in Mexico for American consumers north of the border. Such schemes reveal him to be perhaps a visionary, as much as he seems a man oblivious of the lessons John Muir discovered in California.

"Which is only to say, there is a wisdom in the way the Texan sees our American future. There is also a wisdom to the way Californians understand that future."

Frank leads charge

A group of 22 House Democrats yesterday sent a letter to all U.S. senators urging them to delay the confirmation of solicitor general candidate Theodore Olson "until he gives a full and honest accounting of his role" in a magazine´s investigations of former President Bill Clinton.

"As members of various House committees with jurisdiction over the investigations that resulted from accusations of wrongdoing against President Clinton, we became very familiar with the quality of these accusations," they wrote. "To our disappointment, we found that there was a consistent pattern of ideological opponents of the president making irresponsible, unfounded, and often scurrilous charges."

Led by Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, the group is asking senators to defeat Mr. Olson´s nomination "if it turns out that he was deeply involved in this disinformation campaign."

Mr. Olson has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, as a member of the American Spectator´s board of directors, he learned of the magazine´s so-called "Arkansas Project" in mid-1997. He has said he did not take an active role in the investigative project.

The panel voted 9-9 on party lines last week on Mr. Olson´s nomination, and Senate Democrats are demanding more documents and information about his involvement with the magazine before a floor vote on the nomination.

Bush courts Riordan

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican serving his final days in that office, may run for governor against incumbent Democrat Gray Davis in 2002, National Journal reports.

"You can say I´m giving it serious thought," Mr. Riordan said in an interview with the magazine.

Previously, the 71-year-old Mr. Riordan had expressed support for Los Angeles investment banker William E. Simon Jr., who has been readying his candidacy for the Republican nomination. But that was before a May 1 phone call from President Bush in which the president wished the mayor a happy birthday — and urged him to think about the governorship.

"I think he sees this as a chance to revive the party, and was extremely encouraging and very persuasive," Mr. Riordan said. "As you know, the Republican Party in California has been an endangered species now for several years."

Bush betters Davis

California Gov. Gray Davis blames President Bush for his state´s electricity woes, but a new survey finds that Californians have a higher opinion of the president than of their governor.

Only 46 percent of 2,001 respondents in a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California gave Mr. Davis a positive job-approval rating, down from 63 percent in January. And only 29 percent of those polled approved of the way the Democrat is handling the electricity crisis. Sixty percent disapprove.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, had a 57 percent job-approval rating, with 36 percent disapproving. Thirty-three percent approved of his handling of the electricity problem, while 56 percent disapproved.

His better half

June´s Talk magazine recalls the relationship of President Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, who was "keenly aware that a President might seek out the companionship of other women," according to Kati Marton´s new book, "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History."

"If I wanted him to do without the stimulation, knowledge or assistance that other women offered him, it would, after a period, have diminished me," said Mrs. Johnson, who had a unique understanding of "what she called the 'help and support´ of other women," according to the book.

Mrs. Johnson managed to keep an eye on LBJ´s extramarital liaisons and even learned a thing or two from his mistresses. "I learned how to dress better from this one, to always wear lipstick from another, about art or music from another," she said.

It was well-known around the White House that Mr. Johnson was a womanizer, but such things were kept hidden by the media in those halcyon days.

"Suddenly, the President appeared and pulled up a chair," recalled one veteran reporter in the book. "'Now boys, let me tell you something. Sometimes you may see me coming out of a room in the White House with a woman. You just remember,´ he said, 'that is none of your business.´ We just said, 'Yes, sir,´ and stuck to it pretty much. That´s just the way things were then."

Heston re-elected

Charlton Heston was elected to an unprecedented fourth term as president of the 4.3-million-member National Rifle Association yesterday.

At a meeting following the group´s 130th annual convention in Kansas City, Mo., the 76-member board of directors whose ranks include the likes of conservative hero Oliver North and country singer Louise Mandrell elected Mr. Heston by unanimous acclaim, Reuters reports.

Mr. Heston, 77, is an Academy Award-winning actor whose signature roles have included Moses in "The Ten Commandments" and the title role of "Ben-Hur," for which he won a best actor Oscar.

The NRA changed its rules last year to allow Mr. Heston a third one-year term. At this year´s members´ meeting on Saturday, Mr. Heston told the assembled gun owners, "Until recently, I´d planned for this to be my farewell address as your president. But I´ve been asked, and I´ve agreed, to stand for a fourth term."

Forget the badges

"The long-running internal White House security system denoting who can and can´t see top-secret info is getting the boot, sources say. Reason: The Bushies don´t need no stinking badges," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"The system caused problems from the start when the feelings of top aides were hurt when they found that they didn´t have the needed stars to get into national security briefings. A longtime White House security official says: 'The stars are all going away from everyone´s passes. The new administration does not like them.´ However, a replacement system hasn´t been designed."

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