- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

Clark gets pass

“It sure looks as if key players in the campaign press corps are trying to rig the rules and create a double standard to favor newbie contender Wesley Clark, a k a The General, in the race for the Democratic presidential nod,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“Consider: Sen. Joe Lieberman topped national polls for months, but the conventional wisdom said they don’t matter. The instant Clark topped polls, it was a big deal and he got billed as quasi-front-runner based on a statistically insignificant two-point lead in a Newsweek poll,” Miss Orin said.

“When Lieberman first hinted he’d try to skip the Iowa caucuses, it was billed as a sign of weakness. When Clark does it, suddenly it’s a brilliant new political paradigm hailed by the New York Times.

“A staff shakeup by Sen. John Kerry was billed as major disarray. Clark’s ongoing staff turmoil barely rates a mention, nor does the anger of disgruntled Draft-Clark forces despite the media fixation on the Internet.

“Imagine the firestorm if Howard Dean flip-flopped on Iraq — Clark got off lightly. And he gets a pass on most issues on grounds he’s still formulating positions while anyone else would get slammed as not ready for prime time.”

Arnold-Gray lovefest

California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger met yesterday with the man he’ll be replacing and said in a joint news conference that they were working well together and had started “a great relationship.”

The Republican actor said there were no hard feelings between himself and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis lingering from the state’s historic recall election, the Associated Press reports.

“He kept his promise,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “Every day we are working with his office, and they have been really fantastic to work with. So I think we can continue on having a great relationship here and a working relationship.

“We will need the governor’s help in the future.”

Mr. Davis said his main advice to Mr. Schwarzenegger that he was willing to share publicly was something his wife had told him: “Just enjoy every moment. This is the best job you’ll ever have. Even on the bad days, enjoy it.”

Mr. Davis said he would “do my very best to help Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger be a success, because I love this state.”

San Francisco surprise

A San Francisco official who was serving briefly as acting mayor made two appointments to an important commission in what the real mayor suggested was a brazen act of political opportunism.

Mayor Willie Brown had asked Supervisor Chris Daly, 28, to serve as acting mayor for Wednesday while Mr. Brown was traveling in Tibet.

During his brief mayoral stint, Mr. Daly appointed two environmentalists to the Public Utilities Commission, which will soon begin a multibillion-dollar project to improve water and power infrastructure.

Less than 20 minutes after Mr. Daly’s appointees were sworn in, one of Mr. Brown’s aides told the supervisor that his acting mayor credentials had been revoked.

Mr. Brown, who will leave office this fall, is trying to undo the appointments of Robin Chiang, whose architecture firm has worked on numerous public transit projects, and Adam Werbach, former national president of the Sierra Club.

Minutes after Mr. Daly’s mayoral powers were revoked, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Mr. Brown’s closest ally on the Board of Supervisors, took over as acting mayor and tried to rescind Mr. Daly’s appointments and appoint two commission members supported by Mr. Brown.

But city attorneys said Mr. Daly’s appointments will stand unless Mr. Brown can persuade at least eight of San Francisco’s 11 supervisors to reject the picks.

Cynical maneuvers

“Anyone who thinks a single senator doesn’t matter should take a look at [Wednesdays] failed attempt to limit runaway class-action lawsuits,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Fifty-nine senators voted in favor of going to a floor vote on the measure, one vote short of the 60 need to break a filibuster,” the newspaper noted in an editorial.

“One culprit here is Alabama’s Richard Shelby, the only Republican to oppose cloture and for years a wholly owned subsidiary of the plaintiffs’ bar. As usual, however, most of the opposition came from Democrats. The bill had easily passed the House earlier this year, 253-170.

“So Minority Leader Tom Daschle allowed just enough of his members to vote in favor without the bill succeeding. Our sources say that Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) and Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) had made private assurances they’d vote in favor only to bend in the end to Mr. Daschle’s wishes.

“Meanwhile, Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln got one of the Daschle passes and will now be able to tell the Chamber of Commerce and small business folk getting fleeced by abusive class-actions that she did what she could. At the same time, the trial lawyers won’t give her too hard a time because the bill failed. As Lily Tomlin once observed, no matter how cynical you get, it’s hard to keep up.”

Clinton backs Rummy

Try as they might, aides to former President Bill Clinton couldn’t keep their boss from commenting on politics at a news conference in New York yesterday.

Reporters were told to stick to questions about AIDS drugs. But when Mr. Clinton was asked about a recent memo by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld — about the difficulties of the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq — the Arkansas Democrat didn’t duck.

“I just thought it was a candid statement of the facts,” Mr. Clinton said. “I think this is a big, long-term challenge. Whether you agree or disagree with the policy in Iraq, we are where we are, and I take it that almost a hundred percent of Americans believe we have to pursue the action against al Qaeda and any other terrorist cells that are or may in future plan to attack us in the future here in the homeland, and that we ought to be helping our allies to deal with some of the problems in their countries. In that sense, it was candid.”

FBI apology

Acknowledging for the first time that the FBI hid listening devices in the Philadelphia mayor’s office, the bureau’s top agent in the city expressed regret that the discovery has created turmoil weeks before a mayoral election.

Speaking at an unscheduled news conference Wednesday, Special Agent Jeffrey Lampinski offered an apology, but declined to discuss details of the federal investigation, the Associated Press reports.

“No one regrets more so than the investigators on this case that this device was uncovered in the midst of an election,” Mr. Lampinski said.

The incident prompted accusations by Democrats that the probe was launched by the Justice Department to disrupt Mayor John F. Street’s re-election campaign against Republican businessman Sam Katz. This fall’s election is a rematch of a 1999 race won narrowly by Mr. Street.

Mr. Lampinski denied those charges Wednesday, saying the timing was dictated by “the facts in the case,” and was not of the bureau’s choosing.

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

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