- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

RNC chief to leaveRepublican National Committee chief Marc Racicot is expected to become chairman of President Bush’s re-election campaign, and the leading candidate to replace him in the party post is Washington lobbyist Ed Gillespie.Mr. Racicot, the former Montana governor, could assume the campaign post as early as July, when the Republican National Committee meets for its midyear meeting, several Republican sources told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans had been a candidate for the campaign position, but officials told AP he would prefer to remain in Mr. Bush’s Cabinet and informally advise the president from inside the administration.Mr. Gillespie said yesterday that he is ready and willing to do what the president wants in the 2004 election, but that the White House has not yet offered him anything.”I don’t know what they are going to do. I have not been offered any position,” Mr. Gillespie told reporter Donald Lambro of The Washington Times yesterday.”All I can say is that I’ve made it clear that if there is anything I can do in any way to help this president, I will do it. I’m willing to put up yard signs if that would help,” he said.But the veteran party strategist declined to say whether he and Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, had discussed possible jobs in the campaign next year.”All I can do is to tell you how I feel. I cannot characterize how they feel about me doing something,” he said.Schumer fined“New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform, has been hit with one of the biggest fines ever imposed on a member of Congress by the Federal Election Commission — for violating campaign-finance laws,” Byron York reports at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).”The FEC ruling, handed down in March, ordered Schumer’s 1998 senatorial campaign to pay a civil penalty of $130,000. The campaign was also ordered to return $120,455 in illegal contributions, bringing the total of fines and restitution to slightly more than a quarter-million dollars. The campaign paid the sum in April,” Mr. York said.”According to FEC records, only three cases involving federal candidates have resulted in higher fines than the one levied on Schumer’s campaign. No senatorial candidate has ever been so severely penalized.”At issue in the FEC action were more than 750 contributions, totaling about $915,000, dating from Schumer’s 1998 race against Republican Alphonse D’Amato. The FEC found that each of those donations exceeded the $1,000 limit then in effect for contributions to a candidate during a primary or general election.”“The size of the fine suggests the FEC viewed the infractions as a serious matter. At the least, the violations suggest a relaxed attitude on the part of the Schumer campaign toward the rules regarding the reporting of campaign contributions.”Sidney’s sagaSidney Blumenthal, the former journalist who became a political operative in the Clinton administration, is set to get a memoir of his White House years, “The Clinton Wars,” published.Mr. Blumenthal is reported to have received a $650,000 advance from publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. But several publications — including the New Yorker, which once employed Mr. Blumenthal — reportedly passed on the chance to excerpt “The Clinton Wars.” So the memoir is being serialized on the Internet journal Salon (www.salon.com).The first excerpt, published yesterday, shows that Mr. Blumenthal remains an ardent admirer of his former employer. Here’s how he explains President Clinton’s actions in the Monica Lewinsky affair:”Clinton was a man who came from nowhere; overcame all obstacles by virtue of his own intelligence, skill, and attractiveness; and then, having achieved his goal, gave in to his weakness. It was a mundane weakness, a most ordinary weakness … part of the same personality that got him to the White House, with his need for affirmation, attention, and affection.”He was a character with large appetites and desires, and a surplus of human nature, not unlike Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, the good-natured, life-loving figure who falls into follies of his own making as he tries to fend off the vicious connivances of others.”The tragic aspect, the inexorable drama, was that this least unconscious president knew that what he had done was stupid. He understood that he had given in to his weakness. He had known that it was a mistake, but he made it anyway. It hurt his wife, Lewinsky, and himself. … Yet with this self-centered act he set himself up. And he knew it. Stunned by the situation, he did what most husbands would do: he tried to protect his wife, his daughter, and his own privacy. He acted as a man, not as a president.”Dump truck needed“We were all ready to opine on the lower court review of campaign-finance reform, but the decision released on Friday is more eloquent than anything we can add,” the Wall Street Journal says.”The three-judge panel took a mere five months, nearly 1,700 pages, plus a four-page spreadsheet reader’s guide, to make an even greater hash of what was already a legal monstrosity. The Federalist Papers didn’t take this long to write, much less read,” the newspaper said in an editorial.”This is what happens when foolish people decide they can bring perfection to politics. It’s especially amusing to see reform supporters calling the decision a ‘partial victory,’ as if they’ve even read the whole thing, much less imagined what creative lawyers will make of it. This is also what happens when a president declines to use his veto to protect and defend the Constitution.”A dump truck will soon drop all of this on the doorstep of the Supreme Court. The nine members will then set about doing their best to halve this baby, or more likely if precedent is a guide, cut it up another 1,700 ways. We can only hope the justices take a deep breath, reconsider this march of folly, and call the whole exercise the assault on free speech and free association that it is.”Graham’s big dayDemocratic Sen. Bob Graham comes home to Miami Lakes, Fla., today to formally initiate a presidential campaign that has earned him an unfamiliar tag — underdog.On the main street of the planned Florida community where his father’s sprawling dairy farm once stood, Mr. Graham will begin the task of introducing himself to the nation and trying to convince skeptical Democrats that he has the passion and ideas to challenge President Bush next year, Reuters news agency reports.It promises to be an uphill battle for the 66-year-old two-time governor and three-term U.S. senator who has not lost an election in Florida since running for the state Legislature in 1966. But it is one he is convinced he can win, the report said.Turning his immense popularity in the state into a national groundswell could be tough, given his sometimes charisma-challenged public appearances.Ventura’s woes“Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s planned MSNBC show is mired in preproduction difficulties,” Matt Drudge reported yesterday at his Web site (www.drudgereport.com).” ’[Ventura] has been having just a terrible time,’ says a source with direct ties to the project. ‘The rehearsals have been extremely trying. It doesn’t look good.‘“The Ventura problem comes just as MSNBC has seen its ratings fall in recent weeks — to [prewar] lows,” Mr. Drudge said. “Ventura announced last February on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ that he’d soon begin hosting a nightly program. Ventura said the show would start ‘probably within the next month.‘“But now MSNBC President Erik Sorenson is said to be concerned that Ventura simply is not ready to host an hourlong program.”

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