- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

Political bookends

“They’re both old friends of Bill and Hillary and both Fox News analysts. Indeed, Dick Morris and Susan Estrich appeared together so often they were known as Fox’s ‘political odd couple,’” Michael Learmonth writes in Variety.

“Now they’ve simultaneously written separate books on Hillary Clinton that open with the same hypothetical: Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008,” Mr. Learmonth said.

“Former Clinton strategist Morris sees it as a doomsday scenario in [his book] ‘Condi vs. Hillary,’ and argues that only a presidential bid by Condoleezza Rice can stop her.

“In ‘The Case for Hillary Clinton,’ former Dukakis campaign manager Estrich sees Hillary’s election as a liberal ‘dream’ and the nation’s last defense against 50 years of conservative reign on the Supreme Court.

“It would make for an interesting debate — and no doubt great TV — but Morris is refusing to appear with Estrich even though they’ve got the same publicist and the same publisher (Judith Regan) on grounds that the books are ‘completely separate.’

“‘I think he worries that the case for Condi is not near as strong as the case for Hillary,’ Estrich parries. She calls the decision not to debate her ‘probably one of Dick’s smarter political judgments.’

“Not so, Morris says, arguing his book is more an argument to draft Condi Rice; his last book, ‘Rewriting History,’ attacked Clinton’s political record and should be seen as the counterpoint to Estrich’s latest. … ”

Both books go on sale tomorrow.

Kristol vs. Miers

“It’s been a bad week for the Bush administration — but, in a way, a not-so-bad week for American conservatism,” William Kristol writes in an editorial in the Weekly Standard.

George W. Bush’s nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was at best an error, at worst a disaster. There is no need now to elaborate on Bush’s error. He has put up an unknown and undistinguished figure for an opening that conservatives worked for a generation to see filled with a jurist of high distinction. There is a gaping disproportion between the stakes associated with this vacancy and the stature of the person nominated to fill it,” Mr. Kristol said.

“But the reaction of conservatives to this deeply disheartening move by a president they otherwise support and admire has been impressive. There has been an extraordinarily energetic and vigorous debate among conservatives as to what stance to take towards the Miers nomination, a debate that does the conservative movement proud. The stern critics of the nomination have, in my admittedly biased judgment, pretty much routed the half-hearted defenders. In the vigor of their arguments, and in their willingness to speak uncomfortable truths, conservatives have shown that they remain a morally serious and intellectually credible force in American politics. …

“So what now? Bush has made this unfortunate nomination. What is to be done? The best alternative would be for Miers to withdraw.”

Robertson’s charge

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson yesterday accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of giving Osama bin Laden $1.2 million in cash after the September 11 attacks and of trying to obtain nuclear material from Iran.

Mr. Robertson caused an uproar in August when, on his television program, he called for the U.S. government to assassinate Mr. Chavez. He later apologized. But Mr. Robertson issued a new denunciation of Mr. Chavez yesterday, Agence France-Presse reports.

“The truth is, this man is setting up a Marxist-type dictatorship in Venezuela, he’s trying to spread Marxism throughout South America, he’s negotiating with the Iranians to get nuclear material and he also sent $1.2 million in cash to Osama bin Laden right after 9/11,” Mr. Robertson told CNN.

“And I know he sent a warm congratulatory letter to Carlos the Jackal, he’s a friend of [Libyan leader] Moammar Gadhafi,” he said. “He’s made common cause with these people that are considered terrorists.”

A calming influence

“It’s about time that House Speaker Dennis Hastert added a vintage tow truck to his collection of antique cars and pickups. That’s because he’s getting pretty familiar with providing wrecker service to his GOP caucus,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“The Illinois Republican, who emerged after the bloody 1998 internal war that left former Speaker Newt Gingrich out of power, came to the rescue again last week, say insiders. We hear he urged those vying to eventually replace sidelined Rep.Tom DeLay to cool their campaigns. He also promised to take a meat ax to the bloated budget to soothe antsy conservatives.

“‘The speaker’s been there before,’ says a friend, ‘and he’s getting pretty good at picking up the pieces.’”

Hall of famers

The National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., inducted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, and nine others Saturday.

Inductees were selected by a national panel of judges for their contributions to the arts, athletics, business, education, government, humanities, philanthropy and science.

Also inducted: Betty Bumpers, former first lady of Arkansas, as well as health and peace advocate; Rita Rossi Colwell, the first woman and first biologist to head the National Science Foundation; and Maya Y. Lin, architectural designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and other commemorative installations.

Bennett vs. media

Former Education Secretary William J. Bennett on Saturday blamed the news media for distorting his remarks about aborting black babies, saying he had intended to make “a bad argument in order to put it down.”

Mr. Bennett, in Bakersfield, Calif., to make his first public speech since the comment aired on his radio show last month, said the meaning of his remark linking the crime rate with black abortions was reversed in many news reports.

“I was putting forward a bad argument in order to put it down,” Mr. Bennett said, drawing sustained applause from nearly 4,500 people attending the Bakersfield Business Conference. “They reported and emphasized only the abhorrent argument, not my shooting it down.”

Mr. Bennett’s comment on his show, “Morning in America,” came in response to a caller’s question regarding a recent book that suggested abortion has helped reduce the crime rate.

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


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