Monday, November 26, 2001

All in the family
“Arnold Schwarzenegger often storms Washington during election season, normally helping fellow Republicans, but the Terminator’s last pledge of ‘I’ll be back’ is shaking up the GOP,” Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
“Associates say the former Mr. Universe has signed up to help two Maryland members of the Kennedy clan, relatives of his wife, Maria Shriver. They say he’ll campaign for likely gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and U.S. House hopeful Mark Shriver.”

The media performance
“The press is in bad odor around the country. At a time when President Bush, Congress, the postal service, the Centers for Disease Control, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Homeland security chief Tom Ridge, and Attorney General John Ashcroft are wildly popular, a majority of Americans disapprove of the news media,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
“This is peculiar, almost shocking. The press has been more in sync with the American people since September 11 than at any time in decades. And its coverage, from a professional standpoint, has rarely been better. In the two or three weeks immediately after the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, both print and broadcast coverage was dazzling. The stories were fact-filled, fair, balanced, poignant, comprehensive and politically neutral. There were even murmurs of patriotism, not exactly a staple of the liberal media. Once the American bombing in Afghanistan began on Oct. 7, the coverage grew more critical but for the most part that wasn’t because the war on terrorism was being fought too brutally, but because it wasn’t being pursued vigorously enough. In short, what we’ve seen at times over the past nine weeks is the American press transformed,” Mr. Barnes said.
He added: “There are, of course, exceptions to a changed press, dinosaurs bent on covering the war as antagonistically as possible. One is the New York Times. Its coverage has been grimly defeatist and its chief Washington correspondent, R.W. Apple Jr., has fixated on supposed similarities between American interventions in Afghanistan and Vietnam. On the day anti-Taliban forces made their first big breakthrough in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Times focused on a tiny incident in which Taliban soldiers tricked Northern Alliance troops into thinking they’d surrendered, then opened fire. Another offender is ABC. Its obsession was Taliban claims about civilian deaths from American bombing. ABC accepted them as credible and played them up. Predictably the claims turned out to be false. ABC even frowned on the president’s effort to have American kids send a dollar to Afghan children.”

Card catches spears
“Congressional Republicans lost the fight over the airline security bill which President Bush signed into law on Monday on October 28, when Bush’s chief of staff, Andy Card, cheerily announced on ‘Meet the Press’ that the president would sign any bill that landed on his desk,” Ryan Lizza writes in the New Republic.
“Bush still twisted arms to help the House pass a version that didn’t federalize security screeners. But Card’s announcement emboldened the Democrats. ‘What that said to us,’ says an aide to Democrat Fritz Hollings, the bill’s Senate sponsor, ‘was he’ll sign what he gets.’ And when Senate and House negotiators went into conference to hammer out a final bill, the White House was AWOL, leaving the congressional GOP with little choice but to cave. One House leadership aide snipes, ‘My take on Andy Card is that on the rare occasions he reared his ugly head on this issue, it was unhelpful to the president’s supposed position and really caused a lot of confusion and frustration amongst House Republicans. This is the kind of stuff that got Bush’s father into trouble.’
“Card’s statement revived old conservative doubts about the ideological pedigree of the senior White House staff’s most liberal member,” the writer said. “As a Massachusetts state representative in the 1970s, Card opposed a resolution asking Congress to ban abortion. He was Bush pere’s deputy chief of staff when the former president signed the tax hike in 1990, and in 1989 he opened negotiations with Ted Kennedy on a minimum wage increase that conservatives opposed. So when the administration abandoned House Republicans on air security, Card was the perfect villain. Tom DeLay peddled the story that when Card announced at a White House meeting that the administration’s stance on the legislation had changed, Bush shot back, ‘Who gave you the authority to change my position?’ An off-the-cuff remark by Card about chiefs of staff staying in their jobs no longer than a couple of years fueled rumors that he had lost the president’s confidence. A Bob Novak column suggested Card was on his way out the door.
“Don’t bet on it. Card wasn’t undermining Bush; he was playing exactly the role Bush hired him to play: spearcatcher. Says one Bush adviser on Card’s ‘Meet the Press’ appearance, ‘Andy did his job. And then [conservatives] pound the [expletive] out of Andy Card. And he’ll never complain and he’ll never whine about it. That’s his job.’”

Clinton vs. Powell
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell became angry when questioned about former President Clinton and Mr. Powell’s role, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in setting policy toward Somalia in 1993, Bill Keller writes in the New York Times Magazine.
“President Clinton declined to be interviewed for this article, and several officials in his administration would not be quoted by name on the subject, but there is a lingering bitterness that Powell is not held more accountable for the Clinton administration’s retreat from its campaign promises on Bosnia,” Mr. Keller said.
“Clinton has long fumed that Powell did not share the blame for the fiasco of Somalia, where 18 American commandos were killed in a misguided mission in 1993. Powell had reluctantly advised Clinton to order in commandos to help hunt down a warlord bedeviling an American-led humanitarian effort. Their deaths and desecration became a paralyzing symbol of the folly of well-intentioned foreign entanglements.
“The angriest I have seen Powell was when I broached the subject of Somalia as we flew back from Asia. He surged forward in his seat, and I thought of what Michael Powell had told me about growing up with his father: ‘I don’t think I have any memory of ever being spanked or hit, but he could scare you. He just had to be mad. It was enough.’
“‘I know what he says,’ Powell snapped, referring to Clinton, and then he began a smoldering account of how the situation in Somalia, almost inevitably, unraveled. The details of the sad climax are arguable, but they are peripheral compared with the bigger blunder, which was not Powell’s doing: allowing an effort to feed starving Somalis to evolve into a campaign to introduce democracy where there was nothing but clan warfare.”

McGreevey vs. Whitman
New Jersey Gov.-elect James E. McGreevey, a Democrat, plans to junk much of the high school testing program instituted by former Republican Gov. Christie Whitman, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“The governor-elect has called for statewide testing only in reading, writing and math. Other subjects Whitman originally wanted to test among them social studies, science, foreign languages and the arts would be handled at the local level,” reporter Tom Avril writes.
“Many educators greeted these ideas with enthusiasm, arguing that testing was taking too much time away from teaching,” he said.
Mrs. Whitman held the governorship for almost two terms, leaving the position to become head of the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year.

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