- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2001

Deeply disappointed

Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat, says he is disappointed in his fellow "Blue Dog" Democrat Gary A. Condit, and suggested that the scandal-plagued Californian may face punishment from his fellow party members in the House.

"I think the general feeling is that people are profoundly disappointed with how he conducted himself throughout the [recent television] interview," Mr. Ford said on CNN's "Late Edition." "The blaming of others for some of the problems that he created for himself, the evasiveness early in the investigation" into the disappearance of Condit lover and Washington intern Chandra Levy.

"He's a friend and it hurts me to say this, but I was deeply disappointed. I know my leader was and others throughout our party are. And we'll have to wait and see when Congress returns what, if any, action might be taken against him," Mr. Ford said, suggesting that the Democratic Caucus will consider removing Mr. Condit from his perch on the House Intelligence Committee.

Whatever punishment may be meted out by Democrats, it does not appear that the House ethics committee has any plans to investigate Mr. Condit, Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, said on the same program.

Mr. Barr said he has sent four letters to the panel urging a probe, but "unfortunately it appears that they're not terribly interested in this."

Traveling an old path

"Scandal just follows some people. That may be the case of Catherine Cornelius Smith, former President Clinton's distant cousin, whose grab for the White House travel office sparked the 1993 'Travelgate' affair," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Now she's a VP at the Business Women's Network, working to nail down a $257,500 'women's outreach' contract with the Agriculture Department. The problem: The USDA is her former employer, and federal law bars her from contacting ex-colleagues for at least a year. But she says she regularly calls old pals about the deal," Mr. Bedard said.

"In an interview, she also says she joined the Network owned by iVillage Inc. in July after it got a $25,000 contract from her agency while she was Ag's Foreign Agricultural Service outreach director, a job she left in January. And at Ag she worked on the same deal she's now pushing for the Network, another potential legal sin.

"Ethics law experts say this is one for the Justice Department. But Smith says, 'I just don't see the issue.' She believes that her actions didn't violate the law and that agency foes want to keep the money for themselves. Worse, they're using Travelgate to get press attention. 'I could just raise my hands and scream bloody murder.'"

Bush and Sweeney

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao emphatically denies that President Bush's failure to meet with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney since taking office confirms Mr. Sweeney's claims that the administration's door is closed to labor but open to big business.

"Absolutely not. You know, I work very hard at keeping open lines of communication and open access to this administration. … In fact, I would say that the relationship between the White House and organized labor is going well," Mrs. Chao said Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

The labor secretary went on to describe James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union, and Doug McCarron, head of the Carpenters Union, as "enlightened labor leaders," who believe their "main responsibility is to provide jobs for the rank and file."

Co-host Robert Novak asked Mrs. Chao if she is saying certain labor leaders are welcome at the White House, while others, such as Mr. Sweeney, "an ardent Democrat and an opponent of Mr. Bush's," are not.

"Absolutely not. The president had actually spoken with Mr. Sweeney … earlier this year, and the door's always open," said Mrs. Chao.

But the Cabinet secretary acknowledged: "We would like it to be a two-way street. There has to be an effort on the other side to want to work with us, and it's very hard to work with someone who is constantly throwing epithets or saying things that are very, very negative."

Time for name change

"Of all the strengths of America's labor movement, historically two have distinguished it from the more radicalized versions that prevail on the continent," the Wall Street Journal says.

"One was its determined anti-communism. The other was an agenda geared less to ideology than to concrete issues like pay and working conditions. Worth recalling this Labor Day weekend is that it wasn't Henry Ford who said 'the worst crime against working people is a company that fails to operate at a profit.' It was the first president of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers. Given this tradition, it's no surprise that America never did spawn a Labor Party," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Until now, that is.

"That party, of course, calls itself the Democratic Party. But if the Federal Elections Commission is correct and we had any kind of truth in advertising, the Democrats would change their name to the American Labor Party. In a report stamped 'sensitive,' the FEC's general counsel concluded that such was the extent of labor's muscle in the 1996 elections that the AFL-CIO and its affiliates enjoyed — in exchange for financial contributions the 'authority to approve or disaprove plans, projects and needs of the DNC and its state parties.'"

Misguided regulation

Massachusetts has adopted the Food and Drug Administration's model food code, requiring restaurants to warn patrons that undercooked food can kill them. USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro, who is vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, finds it, well, unappetizing as well as unnecessary.

"Misguided regulatory overreach breeds disrespect for government," Mr. Shapiro writes. "Serious health warnings — those on cigarette packs — are cheapened when restaurants and food stores are papered with dictates from the Nanny State. And because the menu warnings don't require restaurants to actually do anything, they represent nothing more than feel-good regulation."

Gore and Clinton

Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat and likely 2004 presidential candidate, "has met with and spoken many times with former President Bill Clinton, who many party insiders believe has tremendous influence over whom fund-raisers will embrace," the New York Times reports.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Mr. Gore recently moved to end the deep freeze in his relationship with Mr. Clinton.

"Mr. Gore called Mr. Clinton on Aug. 19, the former president's 55th birthday," reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Katharine Q. Seeley write. "It was a cordial conversation, aides said, but the two have had little contact since an angry post-election meeting where they traded blame for Mr. Gore's defeat."

Dukakis and Gore

"With former Vice President Al Gore hinting at a comeback — a prospect that Democratic stalwarts seem less than thrilled about — he can count on support from at least one party booster: the last unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis," Boston Phoenix reporter Seth Gitell writes.

"Dukakis, who bested then-Tennessee Sen. Gore in the 1988 nomination fight, says the former vice president has one compelling fact in his favor: 'The guy won the election.'

"Plus, Dukakis says, Gore won most of the important swing states. (This includes Florida, he notes.) And he did it with Ralph Nader siphoning off votes.

"'If he wants to run again, he ought to,' says Dukakis, holding off from any official endorsement. 'I thought he was a tremendous vice president. He's grown a great deal.'

Mr. Dukakis added: "Hell, I even like him in a beard, don't you?"

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