- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

In the 'Crossfire'
CNN "Crossfire" hosts James Carville and Paul Begala joined top Democrats and liberal interest groups earlier this month in promoting a new organization that would thwart the Bush administration agenda by orchestrating "critical stories planted in friendly media," Paul Bedard reports in U.S. News & World Report.
The CNN duo joined House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt in addressing supporters of the new Progressive Donor Network, Mr. Bedard said. An associated group, American Family Voices, was held up as a model because it "ginned up Enron protests to disrupt White House events."
Mr. Bedard added, in a separate item of his Washington Whispers column: "The GOP whisper campaign to boycott CNN's political show 'Crossfire' has become official policy. Top leaders have told members not to go on the show because they feel co-hosts and Democratic activists James Carville and Paul Begala are unfair to them and their views."
Meanwhile, the Media Research Center (www.mediaresearch.org) reports that Mr. Begala, in an April 18 "Crossfire" segment, said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had a "more legitimate" hold on his office than does President Bush, who "didn't win anything more than a 5-to-4 vote on a Supreme Court that his daddy helped pick."
All of the above should make for interesting conversation among the media and politicians at the CNN-sponsored cocktail party tomorrow at Washington's West End to celebrate the new look of "Crossfire."

Liberals vs. Israel
"Most of the leaders of the Democratic Party and its liberal media voices distanced themselves from Israel in the midst of its defense against [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat's war. Their echo-chambered furor caused George W. Bush to waver temporarily, but an outcry of moral dismay from Republicans stiffened his administration's spine," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.
"Too partisan a reading? Consider: As the Palestinian murder of Jewish civilians exploded, Democrats blamed Bush for having been 'disengaged.' This charge of 'non-involvement' had one plain meaning: Bush should have continued the failed policy of Bill Clinton, pressuring Israel's newly elected leader to offer again the dangerous concessions of Camp David and Taba," Mr. Safire said.
"The Democrats' line was laid down by Clinton himself. He told Reuters on April 10 that U.S. 'involvement' was indispensable, that he was 'thrilled' by the dispatch of [Secretary of State] Colin Powell to negotiate. He took the Palestinian side that 'there cannot be a cease-fire without a withdrawal' and equated Arafat and [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon as 'bullheaded.'"
Although a tiny band of Democrats resisted "the liberals' crusade to force Israel to abort its clean-out of terrorist nests" most notably Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat Al Gore avoided the topic entirely, the columnist observed.

Mayoral malfeasance
Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist said yesterday he would pay a $375,000 tentative settlement in a sexual-harassment case and later issued a statement saying he would not seek re-election, the Associated Press reported.
"I believe this is the right thing to do," Mr. Norquist said. "I made a mistake as I said before and I have accepted responsibility for that."
Marilyn Figueroa, an aide who left her job in January 2000, filed a complaint against the city accusing Mr. Norquist of sexual harassment and said the mayor relentlessly pursued her.
Mr. Norquist, a 52-year-old Democrat, has acknowledged having what he called a consensual sexual relationship with Miss Figueroa over five years, but denied any harassment occurred. He has been mayor since 1988 and his current term expires in 2004.

Clinton vs. Cuomo
"In the battle for the Democratic nomination for New York governor, there appear to be some lingering hard feelings between former President Bill Clinton and the Cuomo family," according to the Prowler column (www.americanprowler.org).
"You'll recall that back in 1992, Clinton was forced to apologize to then-Gov. Mario Cuomo for comments he made about the governor's Italian ethnicity in taped conversations between Clinton and Ms. Gennifer Flowers.
"Clinton attempted to make right by giving Cuomo's son a job in his administration as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
"Andrew Cuomo repaid that generosity by largely ignoring Clinton during his tenure at HUD, making sure the Cuomo name was always first on press releases and burying the administration name deep in promotional material. 'It was always about Andy and the job he was doing. He never gave Clinton credit,' says a former HUD staffer under Cuomo.
"Now Clinton is getting some payback. While he has publicly attempted to stay above the fray in the primary battle between Andrew Cuomo and state comptroller Carl McCall, Clinton aides say that behind the scenes, Clinton has been giving McCall's campaign advice on how to take Cuomo down."

Watts' advice
House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma sent a memo to colleagues over the weekend warning that "we are letting our [polling] gains slip away" because of Republicans' failure to focus on education.
"In January, after a prolonged effort to promote our education message, we were at parity with Democrats," Mr. Watts said of internal party polling. "We have since dropped 8 points. Our slippage is not due to better Democrat proposals. We have slipped because we have not been talking about education."
The House Republicans' message man also cautioned his colleagues not to sit back and rely on coattails from President Bush in this November's congressional elections, even though his polling shows the president's popularity at 72 percent.
"Even though President Bush's numbers are extraordinarily high, coattails are hard to generate," Mr. Watts said. "Our attitude in 2000 was that Bush had no coattails. This may not be the case this time, but we must once again act as if it were true. Not because we believe the president's numbers won't be strong, but because we must rely on ourselves."

Friend of Fidel
"How did you spend your Easter?" Jay Nordlinger writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Not, I bet, the way Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell did. She is the daughter of Joan Brown Campbell, head of the National Council of Churches, who rose to fame when she moved heaven and earth certainly earth to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba," Mr. Nordlinger said.
"According to the Cleveland Free Times, 'Castro and the Gonzalez family were grateful, so Joan, Jane, her husband Hunter Morrison and their two daughters were invited to the official state guest house.' Of course, the mayor had a nice long sit-down with Castro the dictator even showed her Cuban public opinion polls! And he kvetched about classroom size, just like back home in Ohio!
"Mayor Campbell brought up no icky subjects like human rights, of course, because 'this was really about Elian and his family being very grateful for the fact that my mother had helped him be reunited with his family.'
"Of course."

Tailspin in Jersey
"The Senate campaign of Essex County, N.J., Executive Jim Treffinger went into a tailspin Thursday when agents of the FBI raided his Newark, N.J., office," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.
"Treffinger, a Republican, is viewed by many as the front-runner for the GOP nomination to take on Democrat Sen. Bob Torricelli in November. GOP insiders say the raid was prompted by an ongoing investigation into the bribery-for-contracts scandal involving the Irvington, N.J.-based construction firm, United Gunite. No one at the Treffinger campaign was willing to comment on the raid."

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