- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Allbaugh steps down
Joseph Allbaugh, the no-nonsense member of President Bush's "Iron Triangle" of advisers who orchestrated his presidential run, said yesterday that he will step down in March as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Allbaugh, dubbed the "master of disaster" during his Texas days as Mr. Bush's top aide, spent days at the September 11 rubble, often shaking with emotion as he talked about search and recovery workers who performed "miracles, quite frankly, on behalf of America."
He told the White House in the summer that he would be leaving his post after the first of the year. He officially tendered his resignation yesterday afternoon in a meeting with the president.
"Joe is one of the president's staunchest supporters and good friends. He's performed a myriad of roles on behalf of the president. The president is going to miss him a great deal," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
The gruff-talking, 6-foot-4-inch Texan said he has not decided what his next step might be, but he is expected to be a senior adviser in Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.
Mr. Allbaugh helped Mr. Bush become governor of Texas and, later, president. Senior adviser Karl Rove is the last remaining member of the "iron triangle." Karen Hughes left the White House in August to return to Texas.

Florida hopefuls
"Orlando's former Republican U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum stepped back into the spotlight last week," writes Scott Maxwell, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel in Florida.
"First, he showed up on CNN's 'Crossfire,' debating the Rev. Al Sharpton and creating the oddest of odd couples," the columnist said. "Then, on Friday, McCollum told me that he was strongly considering running for the Senate in 2004. 'I've certainly kept my team alive.'
"Now, the senator whose term ends that year, Democrat Bob Graham, is as popular a politician as Florida has had in the past decade. (No, 'popular politician' isn't an oxymoron.)
"But Graham is considering stepping down, and you can tell that the scent of a potentially vacant seat has others salivating.
"How can I tell? Because Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley stopped by the Sentinel to chat Friday, and Foley doesn't need my readers in Central Florida to keep his South Florida seat."

A partisan probe
"The national commission investigating what went wrong before 9/11 hasn't even begun work yet, but here's some advice for saving time and money: Shut it down," the Wall Street Journal says.
"Spare us having to read what is now on course to become just one more exercise in partisan score-settling," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"What else can you conclude from a commission that can't tolerate the experienced likes of George Mitchell and Henry Kissinger because they have corporate clients? The two men resigned last week as vice chairman and chairman, respectively, after being bludgeoned in the press and Congress for alleged 'conflicts of interest.' Sometimes we wonder if Washington has gone clinically insane."
The probe now "looks like a doomed and poisonous exercise," the newspaper said.
"That's certainly the message Democratic congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi are sending with their appointees. Lee Hamilton, the replacement for Mr. Mitchell as vice chairman, has a reputation for independent thought. Yet his first instinct inside the commission was to lobby for a separate minority staff, as if the 10-member body should be a mini-me version of Congress. That would all but guarantee a divisive, partisan probe.
"More alarming still are Jamie Gorelick and Richard Ben-Veniste, who as Democratic partisans are one or two steps removed from James Carville. Ms. Gorelick was Hillary Clinton's eyes and ears at Janet Reno's Justice Department. Mr. Ben-Veniste was the party's designated sandbag man on the Senate's Whitewater probe."

Untouchable
John W. Snow, nominated to be Treasury secretary, "did not resign his Augusta National Golf Club membership to spare himself grief in the confirmation process, or to indicate agreement with the obsessive editorial stand of the New York Times about the club's not having women members. He resigned to spare the club any difficulties his new job might have caused. The club came first. That's why he resigned so promptly," Lawrence Henry writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"Keep this always in mind: The club is better than anyplace else. The club is more polite, more refined, more educated, more enlightened, than any vulgar newspaper or political organization or television network. The club does not need money, does not need anyone's approval, does not worry about pop culture or intellectual fashions," said Mr. Lawrence, a free-lance writer from Massachusetts.
"It is quite literally untouchable.
"Here's how untouchable the Augusta National Golf Club is, in contemporary terms. When the whole Martha Burk brouhaha blew up, the club canceled commercials on its upcoming 2003 Masters broadcast on the CBS television network. As reported, this was widely interpreted as the Augusta giving up advertising revenue in order to spare sponsors any difficulties.
"Not so. The club didn't give up anything. They compelled CBS without a by-your-leave to give up CBS's advertising revenue. CBS sells the ad spots not Augusta.
"How can the club do that? For some 40 years, CBS has been broadcasting the Masters, and has had to buy the rights to do so, at the club's insistence, one year at a time. Augusta has set that fee ridiculously low now in the $5 million to $6 million range, when it's probably worth four times that much. That gives the club virtually complete control over CBS, which gets the immense prestige and power of delivering the Masters broadcast, and would die rather than give it up."

The front-runner
"Democrats are about to have the fun of a wide-open presidential-primary race, but the man who'll feel the most pressure after Al Gore's exit is Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.
"Over the past month, Kerry has emerged as Gore's chief rival both in the pundit chatter circle and polls, but now suddenly he finds himself as the interim front-runner," Miss Orin said.
"That will help him line up staff and fund-raisers and it will get him new attention from voters, but it also means that any mistakes or gaffes will get magnified.
"It also means he will be the target for presidential rivals to shoot at as they position themselves for the campaign. That's because a presidential race is something between a momentum battle and a demolition derby, where those trailing need to knock off the front-runner to get ahead.
"Until Gore dropped out, Kerry could reasonably hope to energize his own campaign by defeating Gore in key contests. Now others will try to do the same to him."

Biting the bullet
"Columbia University has rescinded Michael Bellesiles' Bancroft Prize," James Taranto notes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.opinionjournal.com.
"Bellesiles won the award last year for his book, 'Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture,' which claims privately owned guns were rare at the time of America's founding. The Columbia board of trustees 'concluded that he had violated basic norms of scholarship and the high standards expected of Bancroft Prize winners,' says a Columbia statement released Friday. Bellesiles earlier lost his job at Emory University after an investigative panel there found 'evidence of falsification' and 'serious failures of and carelessness in the gathering and presentation of archival records and the use of quantitative analysis.'
"Columbia made the announcement on Friday the usual day for embarrassing news and the New York Times buried its coverage on page four of the Saturday business section."

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