- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

Bill and Hillary

Bill Clinton said Saturday that if he returns to the White House in 2008 because his wife becomes president, his role would be to “do whatever she wants” because that’s what a good citizen would do.

Mr. Clinton said he didn’t know if his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, would run for president in two years as some have speculated, but he predicted a woman could win the most powerful office in the world.

Asked at an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in Little Rock, Ark., what his role would be if his wife were elected, the former two-term president said, “I’ll do whatever she wants, and I have no idea what that is. I honestly don’t know whether she’s going to run.”

Mr. Clinton said he thinks his wife would make a good president and has been a better senator than he expected she would be, becoming knowledgeable about national security, commerce, political relationships and other issues.

“The idea of her being polarizing is a lot of baloney,” he said.

He told his left-leaning audience of about 500 journalists to consider opposing views and appreciate the value of working with people who differ with them. He urged them not to turn public figures into “two-dimensional cartoons.”

While he doesn’t agree with much of the Bush administration policies, Mr. Clinton said, he has come to understand President Bush better. Mr. Clinton said Mr. Bush has “an intuitive intelligence,” provoking laughter from the audience. But Mr. Clinton said he meant that seriously, the Associated Press reports.

Rove’s clout

“The lefties and the media are right about Karl Rove. That’s why they’re in a dither now that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has cleared Rove of any criminal wrongdoing in the overblown leak case involving CIA functionary Valerie Plame,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“The left and the mainstream press know three things about Rove: (1) He’s the most influential White House aide ever; (2) his influence is almost always in a conservative direction; and (3) his downfall is (or was) key to bringing down the presidency of George W. Bush,” Mr. Barnes said.

“Many conservatives have never warmed to Rove, perhaps recalling his reputation as a Texas political consultant who could teach it round or teach it flat. They appreciate him merely in the sense that the enemy of their enemy is their friend. And Rove, as the indispensable aide to Bush, is certainly the enemy of the left and the media.”

‘Earmarker in chief’

“The Congressional debate over ‘earmarks’ continues, and not in a way that makes the GOP majority look good,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Last week, members were pushing through another 1,500 special spending projects, even as the controversy engulfed California’s [Rep.] Jerry Lewis, who as House Appropriations chairman is earmarker in chief,” the newspaper said.

“Federal investigators are examining whether Mr. Lewis abused his position by steering earmarks to his political friends and former employees. In one case, the Justice Department is investigating whether defense industry lobbyists were urged to contribute money to a political action committee run by Mr. Lewis’ stepdaughter, with a good portion of the money used for her own salary.

“Another aspect of the probe is said to be whether Mr. Lewis steered hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarked projects to the clients of his friend, campaign contributor and former House colleague Bill Lowery. One of Mr. Lowery’s clients is an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery scandal that sent former Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham to jail for approving earmarks to defense contractors in exchange for personal gifts.

“The lobbying firm’s defense clients receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts from Appropriations. Two of the top rainmakers at Mr. Lowery’s firm have been former Appropriations staffers who worked for Mr. Lewis. Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Lowery’s firm paid one of those staffers, Jeffrey Shockey, nearly $2 million when he left the firm and returned to Appropriations when Mr. Lewis became chairman in 2005. Roll Call Newspaper also reported last week that Mr. Shockey’s former lobbying firm received more than $1 million in higher fees from government contractors shortly after he returned to Capitol Hill.

“Mr. Lewis recently hired a top criminal defense team and denies any wrongdoing. He says that all earmarks and contracts went for projects with the ‘highest standards of public benefit.’ But even if all of this is technically legal, the cronyism and revolving door between Congress and lobbyists look terrible and certainly won’t help Republicans restore an image of fiscal rectitude before November.”

Rather’s farewell

“Memogate — CBS’s recycling of transparently forged documents in order to hurt President Bush’s re-election prospects — was Dan Rather’s Strontium-90,” National Review editors write at www.nationalreview.com.

“He poisoned himself from the outset; it just took a while for his career to die. In the wake of the fiasco, Rather and CBS agreed on a face-saving arrangement whereby Mary Mapes, Rather’s producer, was made a scapegoat, and Rather was shuffled to other assignments. Now it is reported that CBS and Rather will part ways this fall.

“There can be no doubt that the downturn in Rather’s fortunes would not have occurred were it not for his terrible but typical partisan reporting in 2004. That the reckoning is long overdue makes it no less welcome.

“Conservative bloggers should take a bow for helping bring it about. While the left-wing blogosphere has eaten almost nothing but failure, the Right’s bloggers have scored important victories for truth against the mainstream media, including the departure of New York Times editor Howell Raines. The demise of Gunga Dan is another feather in their cap.”

Dellums’ victory

After nearly two weeks of ballot counting, former Rep. Ron Dellums emerged as the winner of the Oakland mayor’s race Saturday when his chief rival said he would not challenge the election results.

City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente called Mr. Dellums at home to concede, said Mike Healy, a spokesman for Mr. Dellums’ campaign.

The final ballot count released late Friday showed Mr. Dellums winning the simple majority needed to avoid a November runoff against Mr. De La Fuente.

Mr. Dellums secured 50.2 percent of the vote, while Mr. De La Fuente was in second place with 33.0 percent, according to the Alameda County registrar of voters.

City Council member Nancy Nadel was a distant third with 13.1 percent. The three remaining candidates finished with less than 4 percent combined.

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

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