- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Conventional wisdom
"In his first year as president, George W. Bush has conclusively demonstrated that the conventional wisdom is a terrible judge of people," Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley writes.
"He was supposed to be a dullard not up to the job, according to the stereotype endlessly promoted by the press hive and thoughtlessly accepted by many viewers and readers. As all but the most recondite now recognize, he has instead emerged as one of the most powerful leaders of recent years," Mr. Bartley said.
"September 11, of course, gave him a tragic opportunity to sway the doubters. His response, anything but maudlin, unified the nation and set a course toward forging a new geopolitics in a new century. His campaign in Afghanistan has been marked by competency from the top down through the special forces (no 'grunts' in this army) in the field. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a tired retread according to conventional wisdom, has emerged as a TV superstar.
"On reflection, the amazing thing is that it took nothing less to correct the stereotype. Those who held the conventional wisdom were remarkably oblivious to evidence that it needed to be reassessed. Mr. Bush's shellacking of Al Gore in three campaign debates he was supposed to lose, for example, might have been a clue. When Mr. Gore launched his extraordinary challenge to the results in Florida, Mr. Bush prevailed in no small part through better management delegating to extraordinarily competent aides such as Jim Baker and Ted Olson, and staying above the fray rather than second-guessing them on details or constantly changing instructions."

Peretz's partners
Martin Peretz, owner of the New Republic, has brought in two partners to share ownership of the weekly opinion magazine.
Mr. Peretz said yesterday that he reached an agreement with financiers Roger Hertog and Michael Steinhardt, under which each partner will own one-third of the 88-year-old magazine. Mr. Peretz said he will retain complete editorial control, the Associated Press reports.
"Our agreement is quite specific about that," Mr. Peretz said. "This will bring in capital to be much more aggressive in marketing the magazine. It's a growth strategy."
Mr. Peretz declined to say how much money the two partners are investing, the wire service said. He said he and his partners wanted to expand the magazine's reach among younger readers.
Peter Beinart will continue as editor of the magazine.
Mr. Peretz, who bought the New Republic in 1974, said the decision to bring in financial partners to help oversee the business side was a "relief" for him. Like many political magazines, the New Republic consistently loses money.
"I didn't give consistent attention to the business of the magazine," Mr. Peretz said. "I wrote its checks. Now we will really have a coherent business strategy."
Mr. Hertog is vice chairman of the board of Alliance Capital Management Corp., a money-management firm, and he is also chairman of the Manhattan Institute and a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Steinhardt founded an investment firm, Steinhardt Partners, in 1967. Mr. Steinhardt and Mr. Hertog are also among the investors in a venture that intends to start a new daily in New York, the New York Sun.

Krugman's goof
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a leader in the effort to declare the Bush administration guilty by association in the Enron scandal, expressed surprise and outrage Friday that anyone would question his ties to Enron.
Mr. Krugman collected $50,000 from the now-bankrupt company for what the columnist has described as essentially doing nothing (although he declined to share that figure with his readers on Friday or any other day).
The columnist blamed his troubles on the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy and proceeded to criticize conservative pundits who also had been the beneficiaries of Enron cash. Mr. Krugman apparently resorted to fiction in an effort to ridicule economist and commentator Lawrence Kudlow.
In a letter to the New York Times published on National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com) yesterday, Mr. Kudlow said:
"Paul Krugman accuses me in his January 25, 2002, column of calling the economic downturn the 'Clinton-Levitt recession.' This is completely untrue.
"I have never used such a phrase, nor written any columns about it. Nor have I ever blamed Arthur Levitt for the recession. In fact, on a nightly basis, as co-host of CNBC's 'America Now,' I have repeatedly endorsed Levitt's proposal to prevent accounting firms from auditing and consulting for the same company.
"Indeed, the massive Enron scandal was in no small part caused because Levitt's regulatory proposal to separate the accounting and consulting functions was blocked by leading House and Senate members. I have maintained this view both in print and on the air, contrary to Mr. Krugman's ludicrous attack on me.
"What's more, unlike Mr. Krugman, I have been completely forthcoming with respect to my brief consulting role with Enron and the fees I received for this consulting. Also, I was never formally a member of Enron's outside advisory board. All this is detailed in my National Review Online column dated January 22, 2002."
Mr. Kudlow added: "Also, it is worth noting that while I disagree 99 percent of the time with Mr. Krugman's hopelessly liberal Keynesian views, on the air I actually praised his recent column about Enron's ethical and financial abuses.
"It is quite true, however, that Mr. Krugman's unwillingness to disclose his Enron fees have come under attack from liberal and conservative pundits. In that spirit, his false criticism of me harkens back to the old adage that 'misery loves company.' Unfortunately, any factual review of my own work shows clearly that I must part company with Paul Krugman."

Returning the favor
"Following the unexpected death of former Rep. Walter Capps, California Democrat, in October 1997, a pitched battle occurred inside the GOP over whom the nominees would be in the special election to replace him," United Press International notes in its "Capital Comment" column.
"Members of the House GOP leadership, fearing a revival of the political career of former Rep. Michael Huffington who gave up the seat in a failed run for U.S. Senate pushed California GOP Assemblyman Brooks Firestone, a vintner and heir to the tire fortune into the race. A liberal Republican, Firestone's anointing was opposed by conservative members of the state's congressional delegation who were instead backing Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro the eventual winner of the primary thanks to the strong support of U.S. Rep. John Doolittle, a leader of the conservative faction.
"Jump ahead to 2002, where Dr. Bill Kirby is now challenging Doolittle in the GOP primary. Kirby, who is campaigning on the theme that Doolittle is too conservative for the district, is reportedly receiving strong financial backing from a group of California moderates led by none other than Brooks Firestone."

Elementary error
Fans of Sherlock Holmes have been howling loudly concerning an error in this column about the fictional detective and a certain dog that did not bark.
No doubt William Safire, the New York Times columnist we quoted last week, also has received his share of communications on this subject. For the record, Silver Blaze was the name of a horse rather than the strangely silent dog. The latter went nameless in the famous Sherlockian tale, we are told.

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