- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Frustrated son

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark’s only son blasted the news media yesterday for its coverage of his father’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Wesley Clark Jr., a 34-year-old screenwriter, in a meeting with reporters while his father called voters from a phone bank in Oklahoma City, said, “I’d like to see him win today. If he doesn’t win, I don’t want to see him stay out there. It’s a really disillusioning experience.”

The elder Mr. Clark was hoping to win yesterday’s Oklahoma primary.

In a rare outburst by a member of the Clark family, the younger Mr. Clark launched into a harangue about the unfairness of the media and dirtiness of politics, Reuters reports.

“You go out and see the way politics really works. It is a dirty business filled with a lot of people pretending to be a lot of things that they are not,” he said.

“There was a lot of sneering and whispering going on by columnists and talking heads. … It is all a horse race. No one is talking about the issues.”

He was clearly frustrated by the fact that the biggest news story over the weekend in Oklahoma City was that the drivers of his father’s three-car caravan got speeding tickets during a late-night journey between campaign stops.

“It is a [heck of a] way to pick a president,” he said.

Hillary’s chance

“The demise of Howard Dean’s candidacy opens the door to a Kerry/Clinton ticket in 2004,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“As long as Dean was favored to get the nomination, Hillary likely wasn’t interested in the second slot on the ticket. With the Vermont governor almost certain to go down to a massive defeat, Hillary probably wanted no part in the ensuing carnage. But now that the Democrats have a real chance to win, it makes all kinds of sense to offer her the nomination and for her to accept it,” Mr. Morris said.

“Very few vice presidential candidates can actually win votes for the top of the ticket: Hillary can. She is the most popular Democrat in the nation. And a woman vice presidential candidate — particularly Hillary — would electrify the Democratic base and guarantee a huge turnout. It would transform a campaign into a crusade.

“The voters she’d alienate? Already voting for Bush. And much as they might like to, they can’t vote against Hillary more than once (one hopes).”

Unlikely seatmates

Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, “was just settling into her seat for the long D.C.-Seattle flight Thursday when an unwelcome guest plopped down next to her,” Ed Henry writes in his Heard on the Hill column in Roll Call.

“It was none other than [Republican] Rep. George Nethercutt, who’s trying to knock Murray out of her seat in what is expected to be one of the tighter Senate battles this year. What in the world did they talk about?” Mr. Henry asked.

“‘I heard there was not much conversation,’ Nethercutt spokeswoman April Gentry told [Heard on the Hill]. ‘I think they both got a lot of work done on that flight.’

“And they were no doubt cupping their hands over their respective strategy memos,” the columnist said.

Issue of the day

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean dismissed as “silly” a government inquiry into whether indecency rules were broken during the broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show when pop diva Janet Jackson’s bodice was ripped to expose her right breast.

“I find that to be a bit of a flap about nothing,” the former Vermont governor said Monday in Phoenix. “I’m probably affected in some ways by the fact that I’m a doctor, so it’s not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell has promised a “thorough and swift” investigation of the stunt.

“In general, I think the FCC does have a role in promoting some reasonable standard of decency,” Mr. Dean told reporters aboard his campaign plane, Reuters news agency reports. “However, considering what’s on television these days, I think the FCC is being pretty silly about investigating this.”

The scream rule

“A useful rule in Washington is that the quality of a president’s budget should be judged in inverse proportion to the amount of screaming about it,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“By that measure, the $2.4 trillion Fiscal Year 2005 budget that President Bush proposed [Monday] is the best of his tenure. Not that this is a very high bar,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“For the first time in his presidency — and the first time in Washington since 1995 — Mr. Bush is requesting that domestic, non-defense spending be restrained. This is only a proposal, and we won’t know if the president means it until he shows he’s willing to veto something. But the request does suggest that grass-roots Republican anger at runaway spending is finally getting noticed at the White House.”

What’s missing

A new study from the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while air pollution is declining, the reduction could be accelerated by a “multi-state, multi-pollutant” approach that sets broad overall reduction targets, then allows industrial facilities to trade reduction permits with each other, Gregg Easterbrook writes at the New Republic Online (www.tnr.com/easterbrook).

“Current Clean Air Act rules generally require cumbersome site-by-site, pollutant-by-pollutant litigation,” Mr. Easterbrook notes.

“It’s, um, a scientific study, and so perhaps the New York Times might have been forgiven for reporting it in a short article on page A11, while The Washington Post might have been forgiven for according the study but three grafs under ‘Washington in Brief.’ Here’s what was missing from the coverage. The ‘multi-state, multi-pollutant’ approach just endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences is exactly what the Bush administration has proposed to adopt under its Clear Skies initiative.”

Utah vs. U.N.

The Utah House of Representatives voted to urge Congress to withdraw from the United Nations, asserting the organization was a threat to American sovereignty.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed 42-33 on Monday, favors “freeing the nation from a large financial burden and retaining the nation’s sovereignty to decide what is best for the nation and determine what steps it considers appropriate as the leader of the free world in full control of its armed forces and destiny.”

It was a victory for state Rep. Don Bush, who for years has been trying to find approval for a resolution expressing Utah’s will to the president and Congress, the Associated Press reports.

A year ago his resolution was put on hold as President Bush sought U.N. backing for an invasion of Iraq. He didn’t get it.

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

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