- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2002

LaHood drops bid
Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois dropped out of the race for Republican House whip late Tuesday because he was unable to overcome the political muscle of the man he would replace, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the Hill newspaper reported yesterday.
That leaves Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mr. DeLay's chief deputy, as the sole candidate.
"I feel the race is just not winnable, and I think it's best for everyone concerned for me to withdraw," Mr. LaHood said.
However, Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, differed with the report and said Mr. Blunt's success is not from Mr. DeLay's muscle, but from his own hard work.
"Roy Blunt will be the next majority whip for one reason only: He knows how to work with everyone. He's one of the best at building bridges to moderates and delivering on promises," Mr. Foley said.
Mr. DeLay is running unopposed to succeed House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who is retiring his Texas seat at the end of the year.
Mr. Blunt's election will solidify Mr. DeLay's influence in House Republican circles, the Hill said. A conservative, Mr. Blunt is also a close ally of President Bush.

Schoolyard bully
"Liberal Democrats in the Senate have wanted an excuse to vote against Gerald Reynolds ever since President Bush nominated him to become assistant secretary of education for civil rights last September," John J. Miller writes at the National Review Web site, www.nationalreview.com.
"At Reynolds's confirmation hearing [Tuesday], however, they came up with nothing. What they saw was a man from a working-class background who had become a respected regulatory lawyer saying he would uphold the law and carry out the Bush administration's agenda on education. In a room packed with Reynolds' relatives, but lacking a single TV camera, only Ted Kennedy made an aggressive effort to go after the nominee," Mr. Miller said.
"'Don't pander to me,' barked the Massachusetts Democrat at one point, when Reynolds was trying to explain that he supported existing civil rights laws and intended to enforce them. Kennedy apparently wanted Reynolds to say something different perhaps something that would provide committee chair Jim Jeffords with a reason to vote against confirmation. In the end, though, it wasn't Reynolds who was an embarrassment, but Kennedy, who played the role of a pancake-faced schoolyard bully."

One little problem
"Everyone says President Bush will sign the campaign-finance bill now making its way through Congress. He'll get a big smooch from the press corps (OK, only a peck on the cheek), John McCain won't run against him in 2004, and Mr. Bush can claim to be a 'reformer' too," the Wall Street Journal says.
"There's just one little problem: The oath he took when he was sworn in: 'I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'
"Presidents have an obligation not to sign bills that they believe are unconstitutional, no matter the politics. Everyone we know inside the White House, and most informed people outside it, believe that large parts of McCain-Feingold will be overruled by the Supreme Court. The only White House debate is whether Mr. Bush should stop it from becoming law himself or let the Supreme Court do the heavy lifting," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"The politicos all want him to let the court do it. But presidents don't take that oath of office so they can pass the buck to judges. They take it to defend the Constitution from the passions and fads of the moment. We know it's a long shot. But we hope that on this one Mr. Bush heeds his oath and not his advisers."

Not-so-gentle nudges
"Feeling burned by constant reminders that he has little to show for his eight years of foreign-policy efforts (not to mention an economy that didn't tank until the end of his administration), former President Bill Clinton is pushing his New York-based staff to begin putting together 'Issue Papers,'" according to the Prowler column at www.americanprowler.org.
"The reports, which eventually may be published either out of his presidential offices in Harlem or out of his library, are intended, says a former presidential staffer, to reflect reality as Clinton saw it and sees it. 'He isn't going to have a book out for some time, and he feels the media and especially Republicans have erased or painted over all of the hard work we did on behalf of the country,' says the former aide. 'It may not look like we did much now, but he really believes he made a huge difference in the world, for America and our friends everywhere.'
"Clinton apparently hopes the papers, which initially will be distributed to friends, former aides, and senior Democratic officials and pols, will also serve as not-so-gentle nudges to Democrats to defend Clinton and the record he and his party compiled between 1993 and 2001."

In hot water
Former President George Bush is in hot water over California hot tubs, Reuters reports.
After an offhand remark describing American Taliban John Walker Lindh as "some misguided Marin County hot-tubber," Mr. Bush found himself the target of furious protests scolding him for smearing the reputation of the wealthy, liberal enclave north of San Francisco.
Yesterday, Mr. Bush attempted to make things right with Marin County, publishing a letter in the Marin Independent Journal expressing his apologies.
"I won't even try to explain my position except to say I was and remain so offended by John Walker Lindh that I hurt others' feelings," Mr. Bush wrote. "In the opinion of your outraged letter writers, I condemned all of Marin County with a hot-tub reference. Obviously, I struck a nerve."
Mr. Bush added: "I will now soak in my own hot tub and try to be more sensitive to the feelings of others not John Walker Lindh, though."

Romney's popularity
Though he hasn't said he's running, Olympic chief Mitt Romney leads all five Democrats running for governor of Massachusetts, according to a new poll that also found voters dissatisfied with the performance of acting Gov. Jane M. Swift.
The poll, published in yesterday's Boston Herald showed 57 percent of registered voters gave the chief organizer of the Salt Lake City Olympics a favorable rating, compared with 27 percent for fellow Republican Mrs. Swift. Mrs. Swift's unfavorable rating was 53 percent, compared with Mr. Romney's 8 percent.
The poll also showed Mr. Romney, who has homes in Massachusetts and Utah and has not announced his political plans, outpacing the Democrats, while Mrs. Swift lagged behind top contenders. Mr. Romney ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in 1994, losing to Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
"If he did want to get into the race, he'd be better off doing it sooner than later to capitalize on these numbers while people are still thinking about the Olympics," pollster R. Kelly Myers said.

Hard to figure
"Hoosier Republicans were shocked by the last-minute entry of former Fort Wayne, Ind., Mayor Paul Helmke into the 3rd Congressional District primary against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Souder," a fellow Republican, United Press International reports in its "Capital Comment" column.
"Helmke, who lost a race for U.S. Senate to Democrat Evan Bayh in 1998 by a substantial margin, is believed to be more liberal then Souder, but sources are scratching their heads trying to figure out the motivation behind his move."

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