- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Reading list

Read nothing into President Bush’s current choice in books, the White House says.

The president is reading “When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House” by Patricia O’Toole, but presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said Mr. Bush is not thinking about post-Oval Office days.

“He is an avid reader, and the president knows full well that he has got a lot of time left in this second term, and he’s going to accomplish big things,” Mr. Duffy said yesterday in Crawford, Texas, where Mr. Bush is relaxing between Christmas and New Year’s.

Mr. Duffy said Brian Williams, anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” recommended the book to the president.

The spokesman said Mr. Bush also is reading “Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground” by Robert D. Kaplan. The book is about how U.S. imperialism and the global war on terrorism are executed around the world.

“He reads books of all stripes and persuasion, and he decided to read it,” Mr. Duffy told the Associated Press.

A few ideas

“There are a few things Republicans can do in the coming months to put the country in a better position to tackle its large and looming problems,” BrendanMiniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“The first would be for President Bush to veto something. Any piece of legislation would do, and it should be easy enough to pick out a bill Sen. [Olympia]Snowe is particularly fond of to send back to Congress. (Though there are plenty of other Republican senators to target — George Voinovich and Susan Collins come immediately to mind.)

“The president hasn’t yet used his veto pen, so this simple step would send [shock waves] through the city and go a long way to giving the White House a better whip hand with Congress. Only so many times can a president threaten a veto without actually exercising the power and still be taken seriously, and this president has long ago surpassed that threshold.

“It would be all the better if he vetoed a large spending bill, forcing Congress to strip out the pork before sending it back to his desk. The process would be therapeutic for all involved,” Mr. Miniter said.

“A second opportunity comes in reforming Senate rules. It may sound mundane, but with 55 senators, Republicans are in the unenviable position of being simultaneously hostage to Democratic filibuster threats and seen as feckless by voters who expect one-party rule in Washington to produce results.

“Curbing filibusters and putting an end to the holds any senator can place on a president’s nominees are imperatives to enacting meaningful legislation, and therefore, essential to any party that needs to govern with a narrow majority. It would also likely be a very public fight, as Democrats like Sen. Robert Byrd take to the floor to defend the right to stymie the will of the majority of the Senate.

“In such a made-for-TV battle, we’d find out who has the mettle to defend tough, but necessary, governing decisions.

“A third opportunity comes in the House, where Republicans are sailing along without a real majority leader, and therefore, without a unified agenda. Rep. TomDeLay, who held the post until being indicted earlier this year on what appear to be trumped-up charges, is still hoping to come back to his old job. Whether he succeeds or not, Republicans in the House need a clean debate on what they’d like to do with their majority.

“He could give that to them by publicly stepping aside. Or they could give that to themselves by voting for a new leader. Regardless of how it happens, without that debate, followed by real accomplishments, Republicans will have a hard time making a case for re-election in November.”

Anti-war warriors

“Has The New York Times declared itself to be on the front line in the war against the War on Terror?” the New York Post asks in an editorial headlined “The Gray Lady Toys With Treason.”

“The self-styled paper of record seems to be trying to reclaim the loyalty of those radical lefties who ludicrously accused it of uncritically reporting on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction,” the newspaper said.

“Yet the paper has done more than merely try to embarrass the Bush administration these last few months.

“It has published classified information — and thereby knowingly blown the covers of secret programs and agencies engaged in combating the terrorist threat.

“The most notorious example was the paper’s disclosure some 10 days ago that, since 9/11, the Bush administration has ‘secretly’ engaged in warrantless eavesdropping on U.S.-based international phone calls and e-mails.

“It’s not secret anymore, of course — though the folks who reacted to the naming of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative aren’t exactly shrieking for another grand jury investigation.

“On the contrary: Democrats and their news-media allies — particularly on CNN and CBS — are openly suggesting that the president committed an impeachable offense and could (read: should) be removed from office.”

The newspaper noted that in May the New York Times revealed that the CIA was using a private airline overseas to move captured terror suspects, and that last week the Times not only let it be known that the New York Police Department has been using plainclothes officers during protest demonstrations, but it also printed photos of the undercover agents.

“Does the New York Times consider itself a law unto itself — free to subversively undercut basic efforts by any government to protect and defend its citizens?” the New York Post said.

Lawmaker vs. paper

A Tennessee lawmaker is warning business owners not to advertise in a weekly newspaper that reported he is dating a woman while waiting for his divorce to come through.

Republican Sen. Jeff Miller, who for 11 years has represented Cleveland — a town of about 38,000 people 20 miles from Chattanooga — sent the warning in a letter Dec. 13, the Associated Press reports.

Some business owners said they resented the threatening tone of the letter, but Mr. Miller said he was trying to call attention to what he considers unfair treatment from the free Bradley News Weekly.

In the letter, Mr. Miller wrote: “Myself and many others are going to be watching in the next several weeks to identify and remember those in this community that wish to subsidize the destructive nature of this type of publication in our community.”

In an interview, Mr. Miller did not dispute the newspaper’s report about his girlfriend, but he said he and his wife are working toward a divorce settlement and that his “personal life should be left just that.”

The newspaper said Mr. Miller’s personal life is fair game because the lawmaker had a “family values” platform.

“Your platform is that of a guy who believes in the sanctity of marriage, and that marriage should be between one man and one woman. And your behavior doesn’t support your platform. So, we report it,” editor Barry Graham wrote in an open letter in last Wednesday’s issue.

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

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