- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Mixed economy

Stealing a line from her husband's successful campaign for president, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken to proclaiming: "It's still the economy, stupid."

That has some believing she's accusing President Bush of being behind the country's economic malaise, much the same way the Bill Clinton blamed President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

However, and though it's not an overwhelming majority, most Americans believe that the recent corporate-accounting scandals not the president or his administration are to blame for the economic ups and downs.

Sixteen percent of adults polled by Arlington-based 411 Communications offered the "corporate-accounting scandals" as the primary reason for the weak economy, said 411's president, Chris Ingram.

That was followed by 11 percent who cited the "lingering effects of the September 11th tragedy" and another 11 percent who blamed "both parties in Congress and President Bush."

Doughnut and a trim

Before U.S. Border Patrol special tactical teams can be deployed to protect our borders, a union agreement requires that any place the officers are posted have "suitable restaurants, drugstores and barbershops," notes House Conference Chairman Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican.

Her turn

Former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who had the unpopular task of certifying a winner in the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, is author of a new book, appropriately titled "Center of the Storm" (WND Books).

She is a Republican candidate for Congress, and the once-embattled Mrs. Harris acknowledges that such adversity is inescapable, "but amazingly it can become quite beneficial."

"There is no school quite like the University of Hard Knocks," she says. "No situation teaches us more. Nothing provokes us to greater maturity, focuses us upon the things that matter most, and sharpens our sense of purpose like hardship.

"Suffering either makes us or breaks us," Mrs. Harris explains. "Everyone suffers. But some people suffer well. Principled leaders do not enjoy difficulty more than anyone else. But they do view hardship as an opportunity to advance and to prove their mettle."

A book-signing party in her honor will be held at the Capitol Hill Club tomorrow evening.

'One tough cookie'

The Heritage Foundation has awarded Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, its highest honor the Clare Boothe Luce Award and praised him as a "dedicated, unflinching and articulate advocate of conservative policy and principle."

"As the award's citation says, Senator Helms is 'one tough cookie,'" Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner observed.

"But because of that toughness, our country is a much better place," he added. "Giving him this award today is our way of saying thank you from Heritage, the conservative movement and many throughout the nation."

Mr. Helms, who is 80, was expected to receive the award in the spring, but he underwent heart surgery just days before the presentation.

Sen. Bartlet

Readers from Washington to Walla Walla couldn't believe their eyes when reading yesterday that the National Education Association issued a news releases stating that it agreed with the fictitious President Josiah Bartlet of NBC's "The West Wing" on the subjects of teachers, public schools and mayhem in our culture.

On that point, and another current event of intrigue, Michael Flanagan of Humble, Texas, can only conclude: "Maybe the New Jersey Supreme Court will put Bartlet on the ballot."

Balls of fire

Musical talent certainly runs in the family of Chuck Leavell, the world-renowned piano player who took time out from his tour with the Rolling Stones to lobby Congress on forest management (he and his wife, Rose Lane, own a large tree plantation in Georgia and are active supporters of President Bush's forest policies to help prevent deadly wildfires).

After this column wrote about Mr. Leavell's appearance last week on Capitol Hill, during which he located a piano and banged out "Great Balls of Fire" to the delight of his congressional audience, we received a letter from William A. Leavell, who says he and the piano man are "kinfolks."

"My son, Bill Leavell III, is North Carolina District 24 judge," Mr. Leavell adds. "He plays bass in a local western North Carolina group. I think he is the only elected two-term judge that plays bluegrass music in a group."

Judge Leavell is also active in the local volunteer fire department and, his father says, raced to a recent prison fire in Bakersfield, N.C., where he helped pull inmates a few of whom he probably incarcerated to safety.

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