- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Cheney and O’Neill

Vice President Dick Cheney says he feels badly for former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill, whom Mr. Cheney now considers a former friend.

Mr. O’Neill caused a stir last week when, in a book written by someone else, he described President Bush as detached and said the administration was planning an attack on Iraq long before the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“I was a big advocate of his, without question, and it’s turned out to be a big disappointment. We were friends,” Mr. Cheney said in an interview with USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Cheney worked with Mr. O’Neill in the Ford administration and recruited him for the Bush Treasury post. The vice president was the one who told Mr. O’Neill that he was being fired after less than two years on the job.

“Why it failed? I don’t know. I don’t want to get into that,” Mr. Cheney said. “Paul has had his say. I disagree with his analysis, obviously. But he’s had his day. I feel badly for him, to some extent, that he has ended his career on this note. That’s his choice.”

Schumer’s future

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, “has told friends in recent days that he’s now ‘seriously interested’ in running for governor in 2006,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker writes.

“The Brooklyn-based Schumer, stepping up his focus on a race that was once of little interest, made the declaration in a one-on-one conversation with a New York City political operative, said a knowledgeable Democratic Party insider.

“‘He said he was “seriously interested” in running for governor,’ said the insider, who has strong Washington ties.

“Schumer’s declaration came at about the same time a Marist College poll showed him with a sizable 54 to 29 percent lead among Democrats over Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, an all-but-certain gubernatorial contender,” Mr. Dicker said.

“Party insiders say Schumer, who is expected to win an easy re-election victory in November, is increasingly nervous that Democrats will lose at least four to six Senate seats in the November election, and possibly even more if former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the nominee.

“‘He’s making it clear that his ability to block judges, to be effective the way he thinks he should be, could come to an end after the election,’ said a source close to Senate Democrats.”

Clark and Moore

“Friends, I took a little shot (another one) at Wesley Clark in this column Thursday,” Jay Nordlinger wrote yesterday in his Impromptus column at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“I noted his endorsement by Michael Moore — the crackpot, hard-Left documentarian — and suggested that some ‘independent-minded journalist’ confront Clark with Moore’s views and ask whether, really, this was the kind of support he desired.

“Several of my readers said, ‘Come on, Jay, a guy can’t be responsible for the people who endorse him’ — which is, of course, true. Although I thought it was suggestive about Wesley Clark that Michael Moore should want him to be president.

“Well, well, well. It seems that Clark is not exactly keeping his distance from Moore. Moore spoke at a rally for him, and delivered his usual line that the ‘04 race should be between ‘the general’ (that would be Clark) and ‘the deserter’ (that would be George W. Bush — something about a gap in his National Guard record).

“Asked about this characterization of Bush as a deserter, the general (effectively) gave it credence — and then praised Moore as ‘a fantastic leader.’

“That’s right, in Wesley Clark’s view, Michael Moore — as twisted and hateful a figure as there is in American public life — is ‘a fantastic leader.’

“Any more questions?”

The Pickering move

“President Bush’s recess appointment of Charles Pickering Sr. to the federal appeals bench last Friday is a welcome move, not least because it shows he’s willing to carry the fight over judicial nominees from here to November,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Mr. Pickering will now get the honor of serving a year on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and at 66 years old might well make this his career coda. The Mississippi judge was one of Mr. Bush’s first nominees, in May 2001, and has always had confirmation support from a bipartisan majority of senators. But he has been denied a floor vote by a minority filibuster orchestrated by Northeastern liberals Ted Kennedy, Hillary Rodham Clinton and her junior New York partner Chuck Schumer,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“One of the more despicable elements of the anti-Pickering smear has been the use of the race card, even though the judge has the support of the African-Americans who know him best, including the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP. Mr. Pickering sent his children to the newly integrated public schools in that state in the 1960s, and he helped the FBI in prosecutions of the KKK, testifying against the imperial wizard in 1967 at some personal risk.”

Strange surveys

“More Wesley weirdness: ForClark.com, an official campaign Web site, features a series of very strange online surveys,” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“‘What is the best Democratic ticket for ‘04?’ asks one — and of the 10 choices offered, Clark heads the ticket in only four of them. Four more have Clark as No. 2 on the ticket, and two of them (Dean/Edwards and Edwards/Dean) shut out Clark entirely. The most popular ticket, garnering more than a third of the votes, is Kucinich for president, Clark for veep,” Mr. Taranto said.

“Another poll asks ‘Would Lyndon LaRouche make a good Treasury secretary?’ Only 40 percent say no, though the results are perhaps inconclusive, since only five people have cast votes in the poll.

“Yet another question is ‘Where do you consider yourself to be on the political ideology spectrum?’ Here the answers, rather than the questions, are what’s weird. Only 34 percent of Clark supporters describe themselves as Democrats, and fully 10 percent say they’re Socialists.”

Clark’s new aide

The campaign of Wesley Clark reportedly has named John Weaver, manager of John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid, as senior strategist, United Press International says.

The mastermind of Mr. McCain’s upset win over George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Weaver broke with the Republicans after the 2000 election and worked for the Democrats in 2002, the wire service said.

Arabic ballot

The Michigan Democratic Party is working to draft the nation’s first-ever Arabic-language ballot, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The party is working with an Arab-American group to translate ballots into Arabic for the Feb. 7 Democratic caucus, reporter Niraj Warikoo said.

The state party once printed Polish ballots and more recently has had Spanish ballots, but it has never had an Arabic ballot.

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

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