- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Debating a debate

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens andAmericans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist are in a turf battle over where to debate the Republican governor’s support of what Mr. Norquist calls “the Democrats’ massive tax-increase plan,” Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times reports.

After Mr. Norquist accepted Mr. Owens’ challenge to debate, Mr. Owens wrote a sarcastic letter asking Mr. Norquist to name the time.

“I’m always ready to discuss issues that affect Colorado with my conservative friends who make their homes on the other side of the country,” Mr. Owens wrote.

Mr. Norquist had his scheduler write back, inviting the Colorado governor to a duel at the regular Wednesday invitation-only strategy session in Washington that Mr. Norquist leads and that is attended by about 200 anti-tax emissaries from conservative interest groups, Congress, the White House and Republican governorships.

Mr. Owens fired back, expressing “disappointment” that Mr. Norquist wasn’t willing to debate in Colorado: “A discussion of the issues more than a thousand miles away from our state in your office would serve no purpose.”

Mr. Norquist faxed back a letter calling Mr. Owens “disingenuous” for attempting to pass off the Wednesday gathering as a private meeting in Mr. Norquist’s office.

“You yourself know how important this meeting is, as you attended frequently in the past until your pro-tax position ended your national ambition,” Mr. Norquist wrote.

Scooter’ steering?

New details about Judith Miller’s decision to cooperate in the CIA-leak probe are raising questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff tried to steer the New York Times reporter’s testimony, the Associated Press reports.

The dispute arose as the newspaper yesterday detailed three conversations that Mrs. Miller had with the Cheney aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in the summer of 2003 about Bush administration critic Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame.

Mr. Libby’s attorney insists his client granted an unconditional waiver of confidentiality more than a year ago for the reporter to testify.

In urging her to cooperate with prosecutors, Mr. Libby wrote Mrs. Miller while she was still in jail in September: “I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all. … The public report of every other reporter’s testimony makes clear that they did not discuss Ms. Plame’s name or identity with me.”

One of Mrs. Miller’s attorneys, Robert Bennett, said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week” that Mr. Libby’s letter was “a very stupid thing to do,” though when asked whether he thought it a bid to steer his client’s testimony, Mr. Bennett said, “I wouldn’t say the answer to that is yes.”

In a first-person account in the Times, Mrs. Miller said that in her recent grand jury testimony, Mr. Fitzgerald asked her “whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony.”

Mrs. Miller said she told the counsel that Mr. Libby’s letter could be perceived that way, but said her notes “suggested that we had discussed [Mrs. Plame’s] job” at the CIA and not her name.

Condi’s answer

For Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, no means no — and no again — on whether she will run for president.

“It’s not what I want to do with my life. It’s not what I’m going to do with my life,” Miss Rice said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

As reported in this column Friday, a group called Americans for Rice has run a TV ad in New Hampshire — site of the first presidential primary — and plans to air it this week in Iowa, where the first party caucuses take place.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and on “Fox News Sunday” whether she would run for president in 2008, Miss Rice said she is flattered but would decline.

“I’m not somebody who wants to run for office. I haven’t ever run for anything,” she told NBC’s Tim Russert. “I think I’m doing what I need to do, which is to try and promote American foreign policy, American interests.”

She told Fox’s Chris Wallace, “I’m quite certain that there are going to be really fine candidates for president from our party, and I’m looking forward to seeing them and perhaps supporting them.”

Count me out’

Many of my friends on the right have signed up for the conservative revolt against Harriet Miers. Count me out — at least for now,” Wall Street Journal editorialist Melanie Kirkpatrick writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“I don’t know enough about President Bush’s most recent nominee for the Supreme Court to stand up and shout, ‘Hooray for Harriet.’ Her judicial philosophy remains a mystery and the White House’s attempts to explain who she is have been ineffective, to say the least,” the writer said.

“But I do know enough about Mr. Bush’s judicial appointments over the past five years to give three cheers for his record on picking judges. Almost to a man and a woman, they are judicial conservatives who are already shifting the ideological balance of the federal judiciary to the right.

“Conservatives who have rushed to bash Mr. Bush for his selection of Ms. Miers should brew themselves a cup of chamomile tea and go back and review the roster of Bush judges.”

A Bush-basher

Jack Carter, the son of the former president, took aim at the Bush administration Saturday during his first stop on a tour to gauge support for a run for U.S. Senate from Nevada.

Mr. Carter, 58, said he would announce in a month whether he will challenge Sen. John Ensign, a Republican who is seeking a second term in 2006.

Mr. Carter started his tour in Elko, a Republican stronghold 290 miles east of Reno, speaking to about 35 people at a meeting of the Elko County Democratic Central Committee.

He avoided any sharp criticism of Mr. Ensign and instead attacked the Bush administration, the Associated Press reports.

Janklow’s request

Former Rep. Bill Janklow of South Dakota, still on probation for a fatal car crash, said Friday he was sorry and asked the state Supreme Court to restore his law license.

Janklow, who also was a four-term governor, said in court that his manslaughter conviction for the 2003 crash did not affect his ability to be a lawyer and he wants to serve the public again.

The state bar recommended his law license be restored Feb. 15. If the court agrees, the former congressman could resume practicing law about a year before his probation ends. Janklow asked for reinstatement immediately, but the court’s decision will be issued later.

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

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