- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Eyes wide shut

As evidence grows that a supposed Republican Party “talking-points memo” on the Terri Schiavo case was a hoax, the mainstream press continues to act as if the document’s authenticity is not in question.

Noam Scheiber, a senior editor at the New Republic, wrote yesterday in an op-ed piece in the New York Times: “According to a now-infamous memo circulated among Republican senators, the Terri Schiavo case is a ‘great political issue’ for their party.”

The unsigned “memo” had no letterhead and was distributed by Democratic staffers on the Hill. Republican senators say they never saw it.

Press favorite

“NBC’s David Gregory on Monday night utilized the media’s favorite tactic, using a liberal Republican to chide conservatives for taking a position in opposition to what the Washington press corps believes,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Leading into a sound bite from Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut, Gregory highlighted how ‘even some Republicans don’t like’ the ‘new political landscape’ where Congress has intervened in deciding when a life should end. Gregory noted how ‘a Time magazine survey over the weekend found that 75 percent disagreed with the idea that Congress was right to intervene’ and then turned to a professor who saw dire days ahead for the GOP: ‘There is the real danger … that if the Republican Party angers a large number of Americans that it will reduce the party’s appeal, so they’ll still have a coalition, it just won’t be as broad of one as they would like.’”

Strong emotions

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik broke down and cried together when Mr. Kerik resigned from Mr. Giuliani’s consulting company in December, according to an article in New York magazine.

Mr. Kerik left the firm after withdrawing his nomination to be secretary of homeland security and amid a spate of negative stories about his past personal and professional life.

“I went into his office and offered to leave, and he kept telling me no,” Mr. Kerik told the magazine. “But the next day I went in and handed him a letter and said, ‘I gotta go. It’s not gonna end as long as I’m here. They’ll attack you and attack the firm.’ It was very emotional. We cried together.”

Rough stuff

The two candidates for mayor of Los Angeles got downright testy with each other in their first televised runoff-election debate on issues ranging from trust to traffic.

Mayor James Hahn on Monday night repeatedly questioned whether voters could trust City Council member Antonio Villaraigosa, depicting him as an indecisive, pandering leader with a record of damaging decisions in his days as a state Assembly speaker.

“This is about trust, Antonio, and people don’t trust you,” the mayor told his fellow Democrat during their one-on-one confrontation.

Mr. Villaraigosa’s words for Mr. Hahn weren’t much kinder, the Associated Press reports.

“We can’t afford four more years of corruption probes and stagnation,” he said. “We need a mayor who will restore trust and confidence in City Hall again.”

The Hahn administration is the most investigated in 70 years, Mr. Villaraigosa contended, and “there must be something to it.”

Mr. Hahn, seeking his second four-year term, has sought to slow Mr. Villaraigosa’s momentum since the latter finished as the top vote-getter with 33 percent of the vote in the primary.

Despite a well-financed campaign, Mr. Hahn was able to win only 24 percent of the vote in the primary, enough to force a runoff against Mr. Villaraigosa.

The hourlong encounter Monday signaled that the campaign leading up to the May 17 runoff may be even more brutal than the rough-and-tumble primary.

Opposed to Bolton

Nearly five dozen former diplomats, most of whom served under Republican presidents at one time, have signed a letter opposing John R. Bolton, President Bush’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations.

“There’s seldom been such an exceptionally unsuited person,” said former Ambassador Jonathan Dean, who served in the Carter administration.

He and 58 other diplomats signed the letter, which argues that Mr. Bolton’s past statements in support of Taiwan make him a bad choice to handle the growing tension between Taipei and Beijing; that his efforts to have the United States withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty have been dangerous; and that his statements on the United Nations having value only so far as it serves U.S. interests is counterproductive “at a time when the U.N. is actively considering enlargement of the Security Council and steps to deal more effectively with failed states and to enhance the U.N.’s peacekeeping capability.”

The letter was sent to all members of the Senate, and Mr. Dean said he wants it to sink Mr. Bolton’s candidacy.

“I hope the president will read the cards and withdraw it,” he said. He also said Mr. Bolton is a worse pick for his job than Paul Wolfowitz, whom Mr. Bush has tapped to run the World Bank: “Both are certainly contentious. I think Mr. Wolfowitz is a good deal more capable choice for the World Bank than John Bolton for the United Nations.”

Wedding bells

Jerry Brown, the mayor of Oakland, Calif., and former Democratic governor who once dated singer Linda Ronstadt, has announced plans to marry his longtime live-in girlfriend.

Mr. Brown, a lifelong bachelor, will wed Anne Gust, an executive with Gap Inc., in a ceremony at which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, will officiate.

The wedding date has yet to be set, the Associated Press reports.

“It was about time,” Mr. Brown said. “We’re very excited.”

Mr. Brown, 67, served as California governor from 1975 to 1983, where his quirky politics earned him the moniker “Governor Moonbeam.”

He and Miss Gust, who is 20 years his junior, have been together for nearly 15 years.

According to Miss Gust, the mayor popped the question on her birthday, March 15 — without a ring — after cooking her a dinner of barbecued chicken and peas.

“Things seem to be moving very swiftly at this point,” said Miss Gust, who has never been married. “Neither of us is skilled in this marriage thing.”

Mr. Brown is nearing the end of his second term and plans to run for California attorney general in 2006.

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

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