- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

Hagel backs Bolton

Sen. Chuck Hagel said yesterday he would support John R. Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, likely clearing the way for Senate confirmation of the longtime critic of the world body.

Mr. Hagel of Nebraska was the only Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had declined to say whether he would back Mr. Bolton, currently undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. His support removes an obstacle to Mr. Bolton’s nomination advancing to the full Senate, Reuters news agency reports.

President Bush tapped Mr. Bolton last week for the U.N. post despite complaints from Democrats that he is a polarizing figure who has shown disdain for the United Nations.

After meeting with Mr. Bolton yesterday, Mr. Hagel issued a statement of support. “His experience and knowledge will serve him well as he represents America’s interests in the U.N. at a critically important time,” Mr. Hagel said.

“I believe he will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”

Mr. Hagel last week said he planned to talk with Mr. Bolton before deciding whether to support him. Mr. Bolton’s nomination could have been blocked by the committee if all of the Democrats, joined by one Republican, opposed him.

The committee is to hold a hearing on his nomination early next month, when Congress returns from its Easter recess.

Mehlman’s forecast

Congress will pass a Social Security bill, and Democrats who stand in the way will be considered obstructionists by voters, the head of the Republican Party said yesterday in an Associated Press interview.

In the end, Congress will approve a measure that includes personal investment accounts, Ken Mehlman said. President Bush has been campaigning hard for the accounts in trips to many states.

“The reason I think we are going to get a bill is because the American public won’t stand by and have Congress say, ‘We know it’s a problem that only gets worse every single day and yet we’re going to do nothing,’” said Mr. Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera had a different prediction.

“Magic 8 Ball says overwhelmingly that the American people are opposed to private accounts. It predicts that the debate will shift to solvency, and working together Democrats and Republicans will extend Social Security solvency.”

In an interview with AP editors and reporters, Mr. Mehlman also said the Republican committee is gearing up for a Supreme Court nomination. He refused to reveal how much the RNC might spend on a Supreme Court campaign, but said it would target individual Democrats who try to stand in the way of any Bush choice.

Writer apologizes

The writer who secretly recorded phone conversations in which George W. Bush, as Texas governor, suggested past illegal drug use issued a public apology to the president yesterday.

Doug Wead, an author and longtime Bush family friend, wrote in a letter appearing in USA Today that his decision in the late 1990s to record the future president without his knowledge had been “foolish and wrong.”

“I taped a man without his permission and he happened to win the presidency,” wrote Mr. Wead, whose recently published book, “The Raising of a President,” drew on the recordings, in which Mr. Bush appears to mull answers to potential campaign-trail questions about marijuana and cocaine use.

“My decision to release a portion of the tapes has come at a terrible price for my family and has deeply hurt many others,” Mr. Wead said.

“I was foolish and wrong to tape-record Mr. Bush without his permission. I was wrong to play any part of the tapes for my publisher, regardless of the circumstances,” he continued.

“I apologized to the president before the story appeared and again afterward. He has been typically patient, in spite of the personal hurt,” Mr. Wead said.

The writer said he had begun “the work of reparation,” canceling a tour to promote his book, vowing to donate future royalties from its publication to charity, and handing over the recordings to the White House.

Editor’s opinion

The managing editor of The Washington Post told a Chinese government newspaper that he opposes the idea of the United States as world leader.

“No, I don’t think the U.S. should be the leader of the world,” Philip Bennett said in response to a question from People’s Daily Washington correspondent Yong Tang.

“I don’t think you can imagine a world where one country or one group of people could lead everybody else. I can’t imagine that could happen. I also think it is unhealthy to have one country as the leader of the world. People in other countries don’t want to be led by foreign countries. They may want to have good relations with it or they may want to share with what is good in that country,” Mr. Bennett said.

“That is also a sort of colonial question. The world has gone through colonialism and imperialism. We have seen the danger and shortcomings of those systems. If we are heading into another period of imperialism where the U.S. thinks itself as the leader of the area and its interest should prevail over all other interests of its neighbors and others, then I think the world will be in an unhappy period.”

Beatty’s advice

Actor Warren Beatty says California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should raise taxes on the rich and “terminate” his fund-raising and dinners with the “brokers of Wall Street” and the “lobbyists of K Street.”

Receiving a political award Friday night, the actor who played Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth in the 1998 movie “Bulworth” said: “Arnold. Be the action hero I know you can be. Be strong. Stand up and confront the wealthiest 1 percent of Californians who have benefited $12 billion a year from the Bush tax cuts.”

Mr. Beatty received the third annual Phillip Burton public service award Friday from the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights for a lifetime of political work. Mr. Burton was a liberal San Francisco congressman who died in 1983.

Mr. Beatty said he wants to root for a fellow actor in the governor’s office, but said he’s disappointed that Mr. Schwarzenegger is yielding “to a reactionary right-wing agenda in order to get a political party to become a president. That’s not so fine with me. It makes me sad for Arnold.”

Out of the hospital

Former President Bill Clinton left the hospital yesterday, four days after undergoing surgery to remove scar tissue and fluid around his left lung, the Associated Press reports.

A motorcade of five or six sport utility vehicles was seen leaving New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center shortly after 5 p.m. A source close to the situation confirmed to the AP that Mr. Clinton had left.

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

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