- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Affirmative action
Senate Democrats are so wedded to affirmative action that they are extending it to Republican judicial nominees who have the correct ethnic background, according to an article in Roll Call.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has been meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in what reporter Ethan Wallison called "the Democrats' frenzied efforts to woo Latino voters."
"Participants say the sessions, which began in October, have yielded concrete results in the Senate, where Daschle controls the agenda. Among other things, input from the CHC at a meeting two weeks ago prompted Daschle to move [Feb. 5] on the confirmation of Philip Martinez to the federal bench, Daschle's office confirmed."
The reporter added: "The move came even as the vast majority of President Bush's choices for the courts continue to languish at the Judiciary Committee."

The big bang
Democrats are so enraged at President Bush, especially over his refusal to abandon tax cuts, that they may rise up in righteous indignation and take control of Congress in November, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. said yesterday.
"There was a large underground explosion in American politics last week. Its effects will not be felt immediately or seen in the opinion polls right away, but that does not minimize its importance," Mr. Dionne wrote.
"The big bang was a surge of rage and a rising sense of betrayal among Democrats. It was detonated by President Bush's budget and the administration's open strategy of using the president's war popularity to push a starkly conservative agenda on domestic politics.
"Democrats see their own support for Bush's approach to terrorism being repaid by a brazen effort to strip the federal Treasury of resources for a generation and to create a permanent tilt in American politics toward the right.
"Bush's budget includes large, long-term increases in military spending combined with proposals to increase the cost of his tax cut by making it permanent. While most presidents who declare war ask taxpayers to bear its costs through tax increases, Bush proposed more tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy. A decade from now, the Treasury will be so strapped when the baby boomers start to retire that a Social Security crisis is inevitable. No wonder this budget skipped the customary long-term projections."
Mr. Dionne suggested that, like the congressional Republican minority in 1994, Democrats may transform their anger into "unity and triumph" in the midterm elections.

Roughing up Rubin
"Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin left Washington to run Citigroup with one of the most squeaky-clean reps in many years, virtually untainted by the Clinton administration's scandals," the Prowler column notes at www.americanprowler.org.
"According to two staffers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Henry Waxman, now want Rubin to appear before the committee whether by invitation or subpoena. 'They don't care which, as long as they can appear to be attacking one of their own,' says one of the staffers.
"Of special interest to both Democrats and Republicans, say the staffers, are the various Citigroup hedge investments that were pegged to a collapse of Enron debt. Some on the Hill are wondering who knew what, and when, in New York."

Siegelman's woes
Alabama Gov. Donald Siegelman has proclaimed his innocence amid reports that criminal investigators have subpoenaed his banking and investment records as part of a growing probe into state business deals.
"I know I have done nothing wrong, and those records will show that," Mr. Siegelman said Monday.
Mr. Siegelman said he learned about the subpoena from a report in the Birmingham News on Sunday, and he accused someone within the investigation of leaking information to damage his reputation in an election year.
Recent statewide polls showed the Democrat in a virtual dead heat with the two leading Republican candidates, Lt. Gov. Steve Windom and U.S. Rep. Bob Riley, the Associated Press reports.
"It's clear this is coming from a joint investigation by a Republican attorney general and a Republican U.S. attorney. It's coming at the beginning of what will be a tough, hard-fought campaign," he said.
State and federal authorities have investigated several state deals, including a now-defunct Alabama warehouse construction project supervised by one of Mr. Siegelman's longtime supporters.
Roland Vaughan, former chairman of the Business Council of Alabama, was hired for $25,000 by a Siegelman aide to scout warehouse sites for the state. He was indicted for theft after it was discovered he was half-owner of the site he recommended that Alabama buy, according to court papers.
On Friday, the Birmgingham News also disclosed that Mr. Siegelman failed to report money from investments and legal fees on his financial disclosure reports, some dating back to 1996. He filed amended reports with the Alabama Ethics Commission after being questioned by the newspaper.

Biased about 'Bias'
Les Kinsolving, radio talk-show host and self-anointed gadfly of the White House press corps, yesterday put Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer on the spot with another of his pointed questions, this time on CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg's book carried prominently this month by President Bush as he walked across the South Lawn to board his helicopter.
"In what I think is your impressive knowledge of the presidency," Mr. Kinsolving said ingratiatingly before dropping the hammer, "can you name any book, besides the Bible, that has been more promoted by any president than the New York Times No. 1 best seller that was carried by President Bush in front of cameras, 'Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News'?"
The crown prince of diplomatic dodgery, Mr. Fleischer responded with the classic answer-a-question-with-a-question parry.
"What was the question?" he said to laughter. The spokesman drew more guffaws when, addressing the book-promotion portion of the question, he said, "I'm sure there were some" besides the Bible and Mr. Goldberg's book.
His claim that White House reporters keep him "so busy I have a hard time reading a book," drew a contemptuous charge from the press corps: "That's an evasion."
Finally, the spokesman came clean.
"Actually, I think it's an interesting book," Mr. Fleischer said. "I think it raises some interesting issues."
Pressed by Mr. Kinsolving on whether "The president liked it, didn't he? The president thought it was great?" the spokesman bit but only barely.
"The president thought it also raised some interesting questions," he said.
The follow-up question "Such as?" went unanswered.

Yukking it up
"Did you hear the one about the unknown candidate for attorney general who spent more than $1 million on ads making fun of himself?" Associated Press writer Christopher Wills asks.
Republican Bob Coleman, a newcomer to Illinois politics, is about to launch a series of campaign commercials that use humor to catch voters' attention, the wire service reports.
One ad shows him trying to speak Polish at a political event. He ends up saying, "My uncle's chicken is dancing in his underwear."
Another shows Mr. Coleman's frantic attempts to film a commercial while holding a baby. Baby after baby screams as he tries to talk, and the last one vomits on him.
The ads end with the tag line, "Coleman for attorney general. A great lawyer, not a great politician."
Mr. Coleman, a Chicago lawyer specializing in insurance matters, said the ads are meant to introduce himself to voters and show that he's not just another dull politician.


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