- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2002

Tale of the tapes
CNN offered to give the White House a sneak preview of the al Qaeda training tapes that showed puppies being gassed, Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"But there was a hitch. It would let the White House view five minutes' worth, but only if the dog-owning Bush and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, were in the room. And only if a CNN film crew and White House reporter could tape their reaction to Fido's biting the dust immediately after the screening," Mr. Bedard said.
"Imagine that video. The White House did and said no thanks. 'The president is not a prop for some reality show,' grumps a senior Bushie. Insiders say that the scheme was cooked up at CNN's Atlanta HQ and that many though not all in the network's Washington bureau, embarrassed by having to do Atlanta's bidding, were relieved by the rebuff."

Military man
Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and decorated Vietnam War veteran, believes it's worth noting that some of those advising the most caution about invading Iraq are seasoned military veterans.
"I think we should listen carefully to those who have been in war, experienced the horror and suffering of war," Mr. Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
Mr. Hagel has reservations about a military attack. And in the CNN interview, he pointed out that "Gen. [Anthony] Zinni, Gen. [Norman] Schwarzkopf Gen. [Brent] Scowcroft, Gen. Joseph Hoar [a former leader of the U.S. Central Command]" are also advising caution.
Co-host Al Hunt asked Mr. Hagel whether he had noted that "most of the vocal proponents" of a military attack against Iraq "have never seen combat."
"There might be some conclusion we can draw from the fact that those who have suffered war and seen war, the ugliness and cruelty of war, are the ones who are urging caution here," the senator replied.

A little paranoid
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura says both President Bush and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge have done "fairly good" jobs since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Ventura made his comments in an interview yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," in which he promoted his new book, "Jesse Ventura: Tells It Like It Is."
The lame-duck governor commended Mr. Ridge for "staying in constant contact with us governors." He said they have conference calls with the former Pennsylvania governor at least once a month in which he "updates us on what's going on, the intelligence that they're getting."
Mr. Ventura said Mr. Ridge has "put us on high alert a few times and, thankfully," the threatened terrorism did not occur.
He added that Mr. Ridge "may be a little overparanoid," but "I'd rather see him overparanoid than underparanoid."
As for his new book, Mr. Ventura said he will not be receiving any of the proceeds. "It all goes to charity," he said.
Asked which charity, he thought a moment and said, "Ventura for Minnesota."

Handing out grades
Editors of Time magazine don't hand out any A's in their report card on performances by key members of the Bush team since September 11. The grades appear in this week's issue of the newsmagazine, which reaches newsstands today.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld got the highest grade, a B+. For those who think he deserves an A, Time said that the U.S. military "let al Qaeda slip out of Tora Bora."
Attorney General John Ashcroft got a C+, with Time calling him "harsh" and "divisive." The magazine gave Tom Ridge a C, saying he deserves pity.
Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill got the lowest grade, a D. Time says Mr. O'Neill "has not been a reassuring hand."
CIA Director George J. Tenet earned a B-, with Time citing the CIA's "intelligence failure."
However, the Bush administration probably would not give Time magazine very high grades either. Reporter Byron York writes in the latest issue of National Review that the White House had no idea what Time was talking about when it reported recently that the Clinton administration had left a detailed and aggressive anti-terror plan for its successor.
A former Clinton aide who asked to remain anonymous told Mr. York that there was no formal plan, just a briefing on the Clinton administration's ongoing efforts. Time's reporters were taken in, Mr. York said, by old-fashioned spin intended to repair the Clinton administration's badly bruised image while bashing the Republican administration.

Sneak preview
Sen. Fred Thompson, the Tennessee Republican who is retiring from public office after this year, was shown yesterday in his new role as a tough-talking district attorney on NBC's "Law & Order."
Tim Russert, at the end of an interview with Mr. Thompson on NBC's "Meet the Press," showed a clip from a "Law & Order" episode this fall in which Mr. Thompson's character, Arthur Branch, says:
"With all the money we spend on the so-called war on drugs, we could buy all the poppy fields in the world and burn them to a crisp. But do we do it? No. And why? Because without a war on something, people in Washington wouldn't get elected."
After seeing the clip, Mr. Thompson joked: "And you thought I wouldn't find work."
Mr. Thompson, who acted in several movies before becoming a senator, announced unexpectedly in March that he was leaving the Senate for personal reasons. NBC announced last week that he would be joining the "Law & Order" cast as a politically conservative district attorney.
Mr. Russert asked, "What is the difference between politics and movies or TV?"
Mr. Thompson said: "The pay."

Clinton legacy I
The New York Times yesterday endorsed State Comptroller H. Carl McCall over former federal housing secretary Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for New York governor.
In an editorial, the newspaper called both Mr. McCall and Mr. Cuomo "less-than-perfect individuals" but said Mr. McCall's record on state finance made him a better choice in the Sept. 10 primary. The winner will face Republican Gov. George E. Pataki in the general election.
As comptroller, Mr. McCall who also won endorsement from the Daily News has been the trustee of the state's $112 billion pension program.
"Mr. McCall has seen the fund increase almost 100 percent under his watch," the Times said. "During the last difficult year on Wall Street, it outperformed the other top five public pension plans."
The Times said the ideal candidate would be an amalgam of Mr. McCall and Mr. Cuomo, the eldest son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo: "A candidate with Mr. Cuomo's spirit and Mr. McCall's experience and gravitas would be hard to beat."

Clinton legacy II
Janet Reno's once formidable lead in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary has melted away, according to two polls released yesterday.
Tampa businessman Bill McBride trails Miss Reno slightly in both polls, but the gap is less than the statistical margin of error, the Associated Press reports.
One poll, conducted for the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, showed the former attorney general was favored by 40 percent of those surveyed compared with 38 percent for Mr. McBride. Nine percent supported state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami, and 13 percent said they were still undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The other poll, for the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, showed Miss Reno with 37 percent to 34 percent for McBride. Mr. Jones was supported by 11 percent, and 18 percent were undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.

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