- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

Dean’s dual thinking

Howard Dean told the New York Times on Friday that the Bush administration “has had what I consider to be the most disastrous foreign policy since, I don’t know when, my lifetime anyway.”

But on the same day — in fact, on the same flight of a private jet going between Burlington, Vt., and Omaha, Neb. — the Democratic candidate told the Washington Post that, as president, he might retain Colin L. Powell as secretary of state.

Mr. Dean explained the apparent contradiction by suggesting that Mr. Powell — who last year went before the United Nations to make the administration’s case for possible military action against Saddam Hussein — has been a mere bystander in foreign policy.

Here’s how Post reporter Glen Kessler described Mr. Dean’s remarks about Mr. Powell:

“In the interview, Dean lavished praise on Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, saying he never understood why he was a Republican since ‘his advice is simply for the most part ignored.’ One Dean adviser said he has discussed with Dean the possibility of keeping Powell on as secretary of state. ‘That may or may not be in the cards,’ Dean said, emphasizing that it was too early for that kind of discussion. ‘We’ve put almost no time into that [discussing Cabinet selections] whatsoever.’”

The two newspapers published their Dean interview stories yesterday.

Reid’s falsehoods

Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid on Saturday accused the Bush administration of calling Democrats “unpatriotic,” but he was unable to cite any examples, apparently because there are none.

The Nevada senator, in the party’s weekly radio address, then inaccurately claimed that no Democrat had ever accused the Bush administration of being unpatriotic. But the Weekly Standard, in an editorial in last week’s issue, quoted three Democrats — Florida Sen. Bob Graham, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and presidential candidate Al Sharpton — as using that term to describe President Bush.

“I have to say, I’m troubled by the way this administration brands Americans who disagree with its policies as ‘unpatriotic,’” Mr. Reid said on the radio.

“There are many areas where we do not agree with members of this administration, but we would never question their patriotism. They owe us the same in return,” he added.

The Weekly Standard, in its editorial a week ago, said it could find no example of a Republican senator or any other prominent Republican official referring to Democrats as unpatriotic. As for the president, “Bush has never used the words ‘Democrat’ and ‘unpatriotic’ in the same sentence or in nearby sentences,” the magazine said. “In fact, he’s never used the word ‘unpatriotic’ in public in any context.”

In contrast, Mr. Graham has said Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy is “anti-patriotic at its core”; Mr. Kerry has described Mr. Bush’s tax policies as “unpatriotic”; and Mr. Sharpton has said, “Real patriots don’t put troops in harm’s way on a flawed policy.”

Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean has accused Attorney General John Ashcroft of being unpatriotic, the magazine noted.

Rowland’s defense

Facing calls for his resignation over revelations that friends and a politically connected contractor paid for work on his summer cottage, Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland said yesterday that his service to the state speaks for itself.

At least three newspapers have called on Mr. Rowland to resign. Some top Democrats have said he should quit; others have said he should at least step aside while an investigation is completed.

The three-term Republican did not respond directly yesterday when asked whether he would resign, the Associated Press reports.

“We’re doing our job,” he said in his first public appearance since admitting that others paid for the improvements to the cottage. “We’ve made an apology. Everything has to be looked at in perspective in terms of what I’ve done in the last nine years.”

Mr. Rowland was making an appearance at a holiday party in South Windsor for families of Connecticut National Guard soldiers assigned to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He acknowledged that the controversy was part of his decision not to attend a meeting of the National Governors Association that begins today in Orlando, Fla., but said he felt he could still head the state.

“In public life, you have to deal with these types of issues,” Mr. Rowland said.

Mr. Rowland admitted Friday that work on the cottage was paid for by friends, contractors and subcontractors, including the Tomasso Group — a major state contractor — and a former deputy chief of staff who is under investigation in a federal corruption probe. His admission came 10 days after he insisted that he alone paid for the improvements.

Hearings sought

A Republican congressman Saturday joined Democratic calls for hearings on reports that Halliburton Co. charged up to $61 million too much for delivering gasoline to Iraqi citizens under a no-bid contract.

Nevada Rep. Jim Gibbons called the reports “an absolute outrage” and said he wants the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings early next year on Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company.

“If these allegations, which were found in a Pentagon audit of government contracts, [are] true, then it’s time for Halliburton to break out its checkbook and refund American taxpayers,” Mr. Gibbons said.

Mr. Gibbons, a committee member, said he is the first Republican member of Congress to call for congressional hearings of the company, the Associated Press reports.

Halliburton has received more than $2.2 billion so far under an oil-reconstruction contract. The United States is providing gasoline and other fuel to Iraqis while the country’s oil industry is being rebuilt.

A Pentagon audit found Halliburton may have overcharged the government by $1.09 a gallon. The company denies overcharging.

Mr. Gibbons said he’s also concerned by news reports that Halliburton may have overcharged $67 million to supply cafeteria services to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The company has been paid about $3 billion for supporting the military with cafeterias, mail delivery and other services.

Thompson’s future

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, who has spent more than three decades in government, said he will seek work in the private sector after the 2004 election, a Wisconsin newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr. Thompson, 62, served in the Legislature for 20 years and as Wisconsin governor for 14 years before leaving in 2001 to take the Cabinet post in the Bush administration.

He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he wants to leave government service and get a job with a private company, preferably as chief executive officer.

“My wife would like me to make some money, and I want to go out when my health is still good,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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