- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Change of mind
"What a difference 10 months makes. Last November, I broke the unwritten rule that requires journalists to be neutral political observers when I got embroiled in the controversy over the presidential election and publicly supported Al Gore," Gerald Posner writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"It was not just with friends that I passionately argued the election had been stolen and that Mr. Gore would be the better president. I was one of the signatories to the pompously titled 'Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens 2000,' which took full-page ads in the New York Times demanding a revote in Palm Beach County. I wrote op-eds for Salon.com and the New York Daily News. On television talk shows from MSNBC to Fox News' popular 'The O'Reilly Factor,' I made the case for Mr. Gore," Mr. Posner said.
"Of course, I did not know whether the election had gone for Mr. Gore or George W. Bush. As a partisan, I did not care. I was convinced that Mr. Gore was by far the best-qualified candidate and the man most fit to lead the U.S. Mr. Bush was not only untested nationally, but he seemed to me bereft of the character or intellect to become a real leader, and I feared that four years, and possibly eight, under Mr. Bush would set the country back.
"How wrong I was. Since the murderous terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush has come alive in a way I did not think possible. It was as though the attack on America which he rightly called an 'act of war' from the start gave him a focus and clarity I had not seen earlier."
Mr. Posner said he not only believes that the Bush administration is better fitted to conduct this war than a Gore administration likely would have been, but "I must sadly admit that Bill Clinton, for whom I voted twice, could not have delivered that clear speech [to a joint session of Congress] last Thursday."

Condit delays event
Rep. Gary A. Condit, the scandal-plagued California Democrat, has indefinitely postponed his annual fund-raiser because of the terrorist attacks and still has not decided whether to seek re-election, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Condit sent a letter to supporters announcing that the 26th annual Condit Country Roundup scheduled for Oct. 20 has been postponed indefinitely. The $35-a-person event, which has drawn thousands of people in past years, was to be held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, Calif.
"I fully support President Bush's commitment to bring the terrorists and those who harbor them to justice," Mr. Condit wrote. "As a nation, this goal must supersede all others. Partisan politics has no place in the determination of America's security."
He did not mention his political future, but his chief of staff, Michael Lynch, said yesterday that no decision has been made.
Would-be candidates for Mr. Condit's seat have been waiting for a signal of his intentions. The fund-raiser was being watched as a barometer of the congressman's popularity in the wake of intense scrutiny of his relationship with Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old intern who disappeared in Washington nearly five months ago.

Peripatetic secretary
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson a believer in hands-on leadership says he will temporarily relocate to New York.
"Today is not the last you'll see of me. I'm pleased to announce that I will move my office along with my senior staff and operations here to New York City for a week later this fall," Mr. Thompson told some 200 HHS staff who returned to department offices in Manhattan yesterday.
The HHS is playing a major role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On Friday, Mr. Thompson said that $126 million would be available to hospitals, emergency shelters, community health centers, mental health providers and social services.
"This city, this state, and their people need help right now. The Department of Health and Human Services will deliver, now and in the long run," he said yesterday.
The secretary, a longtime governor of Wisconsin, likes to physically move in as a way to understand troubled or complex operations. Since taking office this year, Mr. Thompson has temporarily relocated his offices to the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Turn off the lights
Bill Clinton has gotten good marks for his actions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for example, he was planning to take four commercial air flights this week to reassure the nation that air travel is safe (unlike California Gov. Gray Davis, who decided to lease a jet).
But the former president's love of the spotlight did cause some tension in an appearance with New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani last week, Los Angeles Times reporter Charles Ornstein writes.
"After one of Giuliani's news conferences, Clinton lingered for about 10 minutes to answer reporters' questions. Twice, a Giuliani spokeswoman shouted at reporters to end the questioning, but Clinton continued answering. At one point, Giuliani's spokeswoman told [Clinton aide Julia] Payne: 'My boss is waiting.'"

Ready for action
Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of a military effort to combat terrorism, even in the face of casualties, according to a CBS-New York Times poll.
Just over 70 percent of Americans said they would support a military strike even if it lasted for many years and there were significant casualties among U.S. personnel, pollsters found.
Just under 70 percent said they would support the military effort even if thousands of innocent people were killed.
The poll, released late Monday, was based on interviews of 1,216 adults between Sept. 20 and 23. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll also found that Americans believe the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were just the beginning. Almost 80 percent of Americans believe there will soon be another terrorist attack in the United States.
Other findings:
Just over two-thirds of Americans feel spending on U.S. intelligence efforts should be increased.
About half of those polled said security at U.S. airports was partially to blame for the terrorist attacks.
Nine in 10 Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling the nation's response to the terrorist attacks.

A wee hint
It is good to denounce random violence against innocent Arabs and Muslims in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Christopher Caldwell writes in the New York Press, but "anyone who thinks the left-wing mewing about 'racial profiling' has any credibility with the broader American public is deluding himself."
Mr. Caldwell cites the remarks of House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, who said on CNN's "Crossfire": "We don't know who did all of this. We don't know what ethnic group they may be part of. We don't know what religious background they may have." Responds Mr. Caldwell: "We don't? Do you think maybe those cockpit recordings of howls in Arabic give us a wee hint?"

Bad timing
Paul Begala, the TV talking head who served as a political adviser to President Clinton, proved yesterday that he is not much of a weatherman.
"For the first time since the Civil War, Washington is in physical danger," he told New York Times reporter Todd S. Purdum. "We don't have earthquakes like California or hurricanes like the Gulf Coast or tornadoes like the Midwest. Our idea of a cataclysm is losing re-election."
The quote appeared yesterday, the day after a killer tornado struck the University of Maryland campus in the Washington suburbs.

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