We can’t say exactly what Vice President Dick Cheney discussed with a select group of Republican congressmen when meeting behind closed doors late yesterday in the Lincoln Room of the U.S. Capitol.
But the “Republican Theme Team,” chaired by Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, is obviously playing a role in helping Judge John G. Roberts Jr. get “from nomination to confirmation with the Supreme Court,” or so GOP members were advised in writing in advance of yesterday’s powwow with the vice president just down the hall from the speaker’s office.
The congressmen were handed four key talking points to help move the nomination:
1. The Senate should provide a fair confirmation process that will ensure the Supreme Court is at full strength to start its next term Oct. 3.
2. President Bush has engaged in unprecedented consultation, personally reaching out to more than 60 senators, including every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and more than two-thirds of the Democratic senators.
3. Average time it took President Clinton from the start of the nomination process to confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 58 days.
4. The Senate should use the “Ginsburg Model” for confirmation.
Justice Ginsburg was nominated on June 22, 1993, and within six weeks’ time, on Aug. 3, the full Senate confirmed her nomination by a 96-3 vote.
Newt on wine
The August issue of GQ magazine describes its wide-ranging interview with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a “wine-soaked train ride.”
Which perhaps explains why Mr. Gingrich is so outspoken in his conversation with writer Robert Draper, including how the administration of George W. Bush “messed up” Iraq.
Highlights of the story in the August issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday:
“We should’ve maintained the Iraqi army. And should have created an interim government immediately,” Mr. Gingrich says. “And the world would’ve been a different place.”
As for how the world will remember President Bush, the former speaker states: “The challenge of the Bush legacy is this: You have pieces that are really terrific. Then you have pieces that are like, ‘What were those guys thinking?’ ”
Asked about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, Mr. Gingrich, who has his own eyes on the White House in 2008, replies: “Total admiration. You have to respect her. This is a first-class professional. And if Bill is ‘first spouse,’ it’ll be one of the great moments. A new TV show — ‘The East Wing!’”
Spin it, Walter
After viewing a few of the featured short films for the D.C. premiere next week of the “Media that Matters Film Festival,” our Oscar goes to former vice president turned hip-hop artist Walter F. Mondale.
The short films by young, independent artist-activists tackle everything from politics and voting to juvenile crime and civil rights.
Our favorite is the nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote film “Battleground Minnesota,” which leads up to the presidential election last year. It shows hip-hop artist and narrator Chris Johnson, known to his fans as “Shakademic,” giving a “scratch lesson” (the rhythmical manipulation of a vinyl record) to Mr. Mondale.
After providing a lesson in politics, the former vice president to Jimmy Carter comments that today’s music scene is more “spontaneous” compared with the “orchestrated” music of his day, citing Glenn Miller as one bandleader he’s more comfortable with.
The screening of the short films starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for American Progress at 1333 H St. NW. Admission is free.
President Bush was delivering a speech yesterday to the Hispanic Alliance for Free Trade and was providing examples of high-quality U.S. products that, because of high tariffs, are “priced out of the reach” of the Central American market.
“Again, another company example here. It’s called ‘Bush Hog.’”
Or so the president read from his prepared text, adding quickly: “I don’t know why they would have put this example in this speech. I hope it wasn’t named after me.”
He went on to note that the Alabama makers of the Bush Hog, who manufacture farm equipment such as backhoes, tillers and rotary cutters, think that farmers in Central America would find the U.S. machinery attractive if tariffs on the equipment were eliminated.
John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or email@example.com.