- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003

Hillary’s expertise

“We’re not making this one up, folks. In a video snippet you can play for yourself on the NY1 News Web site, Hillary Rodham Clinton accuses the Bush White House of ‘a coverup at the highest level,’” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“‘What transpired in the White House?’ an angry Mrs. Clinton asked this [past] week from the steps of New York’s City Hall. ‘I know a little bit about how White Houses work. I know somebody picked up a phone, somebody got on a computer, somebody sent an e-mail, somebody called for a meeting, somebody, probably under instructions from somebody further up the chain, told the EPA, ‘Don’t tell the people of New York the truth,’ and I want to know who that is.

“Mrs. Clinton’s coverup accusation was prompted by a report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general, which says the Bush Administration prodded the EPA to issue reassuring reports about the air quality in Lower Manhattan after September 11. She’s not buying the argument that, in the chaotic aftermath of that day, no one really knew what was going on with air quality.

“Maybe the first couple of days, Mrs. Clinton allows. ‘But a week later, two weeks later, two months later, six months later? Give me a break. They knew, and they didn’t tell us the truth,’ she says.

“This, of course, comes from the same woman who as first lady thought it understandable that her long-subpoenaed records could suddenly materialize in a room right next to her White House study. ‘I think people need to understand that there are millions of pieces of paper in the White House,’ she told Barbara Walters, ‘and for more than two years now people have been diligently searching.’

“Recall that she also dismisses the collection of hundreds of FBI files of Bush and Reagan appointees as a ‘bureaucratic snafu’ by innocent newcomers ‘who did not recognize the mistake.’ And who can forget her classic disavowal of any responsibility for the sacking of staffers in the White House Travel Office?” the newspaper asked.

“We suppose Mrs. Clinton’s explanations have to be taken on faith. So if the honorable junior senator from New York now wants to argue that she knows a coverup when she sees it, because she knows all about how these things work, who are we to argue?”

Worried Democrats

Some Democratic Party leaders are worried about the strength of their field of presidential candidates “and fearful of what they view as President Bush’s huge advantage going into next year’s election,” the New York Times reported yesterday in a front-page story.

“Many prominent Democrats said that Mr. Bush might be vulnerable, given problems with the economy and continued American fatalities in Iraq. But they said he could be unseated only by an aggressive, partisan challenge that built on Democratic anger lingering from the 2000 election and by a nominee who somehow managed to survive a complicated nominating fight that was pulling the party to the left,” reporter Adam Nagourney wrote.

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, who lost to President Reagan in 1984, told the reporter: “It’s going to be tough. You’re trying to beat an incumbent who has all this money, and who has got the field all to himself, while all this infighting is going on in the Democratic Party.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said: “It’s going to be very difficult to defeat Bush next year. He will have more money than any candidate in history.”

The reporter added: “One prominent Democrat said that while Mr. Bush was ‘eminently beatable,’ the Democratic nominating process seemed nowhere near producing someone who could do the job. ‘The trouble in 2004 is not that Bush is going to be strong, but rather we are going to be weak,’ this official said.”

Clark’s ‘artillery’

Wesley Clark’s closest friends say the retired general leans toward jumping into the race to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the 2004 presidential race, Newsweek reports.

“I’ve got recon out there,” Mr. Clark told the magazine, rejecting the notion it might be too late to enter the race.

“I’ve got some heavy artillery that can come in. I’ve got logistics, I’ve got strategic mobility.”

But Mr. Clark, who would become the 10th candidate for the nomination, did not say specifically that he would enter.

Mr. Clark, 58, was the supreme allied commander in Europe and led NATO forces in the war against the Serbs in Kosovo in 1999.

Mr. Clark slammed President Bush’s recent speech in which he painted Iraq as the main theater in the worldwide fight against terrorism.

“You can’t win without a vision, and that means working with allies,” Mr. Clark told the magazine. “It means using force when it’s appropriate, and as a last resort, and not because it looks easy. Because, as we’re finding out in Iraq, it isn’t easy.”

Into the trash

“The editors of Vanity Fair are none too fond of Leo Strauss, the political philosopher-turned-neoconservative icon,” the New Republic observes in its editorial Notebook.

“But they should take heed of what Strauss termed the ‘reductio ad Hitlerum’ argument style — the practice of reducing an argument to a facile comparison to Adolf Hitler — which cheapens both the point and the person making it,” the magazine said.

“In the letters section of the September Vanity Fair, the editors republished a photograph of neocon brain-truster Richard Perle sitting awkwardly in a rocking chair, juxtaposed with one of Hitler propaganda architect Joseph Goebbels in roughly the same pose. In case anyone missed the point, Vanity Fair’s caption asked, ‘SEPARATED AT BIRTH?’

“The proximate cause of this disgraceful analogy was a letter that noted a ‘similarity’ and that argued, ‘Perle isn’t the first government official to use deceit and fear mongering to force an extremist, irrational, and ultimately violent view on an entire nation, or globe.’

“Does someone really need to explain to Vanity Fair that nothing Perle or President Bush will ever do can invite a comparison to Nazi Germany? Magazines get letters from cranks every day. They belong in the trash — alongside, it appears, Vanity Fair.”

Doctors vs. lawyers

The Florida Medical Association approved a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution Saturday that would cut the amount of money attorneys for victims of medical malpractice get in court settlements.

The proposed amendment is the latest step in an ongoing fight between doctors, who say skyrocketing malpractice liability premiums have been forcing them to limit or close their practices, and trial lawyers.

Under the proposed amendment, patients would receive 70 percent of the first $250,000 awarded, and 90 percent after that. Trial lawyers now get between 30 percent and 40 percent of malpractice awards, the medical association said.

“This amendment will ensure that patients in a medical liability case will receive the vast majority of the money awarded to them,” said Dr. Robert Cline, the association’s president.

The medical association needs about 600,000 signatures and approval from the Supreme Court to get the proposed amendment on the ballot, the Associated Press reports.

Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, signed a medical malpractice bill two weeks ago that limits a doctor’s liability for noneconomic damages in most medical malpractice cases to $500,000. A medical facility’s liability will be limited to $750,000 in most cases.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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