- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

The ‘dumbest thing’

We may know in just over six weeks whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to run for president. The New York Democrat has been coy about the prospect for years — but that may end soon, at least if Terry McAuliffe is right. And he ought to know.

The former Democratic National Committee chairman will head up Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign next year, several Democratic sources told the Hill newspaper yesterday.

“Clinton, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and McAuliffe, the top moneyman in Democratic politics, have a good chance of raising $100 million before the first official contest, the Iowa caucuses in January 2008,” the Hill reported. “While Clinton and her staff insist she is focused solely on winning re-election in New York this November, the decision over who will be in charge of getting her elected to the White House is already settled.”

Posturing aside, Mr. McAuliffe said the former first lady “has not made a decision on running for president and will not do so until after Nov. 7,” the paper said.

Mr. McAuliffe later downplayed the Hill’s revelations of his new fundraising role.

“How is that news?” he told the New York Daily News, which found him wandering the rarefied floors of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York yesterday afternoon. “Everyone knows” he’ll play a role if Mrs. Clinton runs, as he did for her husband, he said, adding, “Dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Keepers of the flame

House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican, was recognized last night by the Center for Security Policy with the “Keeper of the Flame” award, honoring public servants who devote careers to America’s security, the propagation of democracy and respect for individual rights throughout the world.

In attendance in the splendid East Hall of Union Station were Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, both former winners of the award. At Mr. Hunter’s request, military personnel who have seen combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan also were honored, several drawn from the 19 servicemen and women profiled in “Home of the Brave,” written by the late Caspar Weinberger.

The former Reagan administration defense secretary, who died in March, was given a video tribute introduced by his son, Cap Weinberger Jr.

Was it hearty fare? Yes, and swanky, too. The 400 guests were served at tables resplendent in regal red and gold linens. The guests dined upon filets of prime rib tenderloin and pecan-crusted chicken, topped off by apple charlotte timbales with vanilla ice cream quenelles with caramel sauce.

Oh, so that’s it

Politicians are flighty and distracted? Yes, according to a survey by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, which found that elected officials and entertainers are surpassed only by tradespeople as those most likely to show signs of attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.

Lawyers, law-enforcement personnel and journalists are the least likely to have symptoms, which include distractibility, procrastination, disorganization and lateness. Among respondents with the highest probability of having the disorder, “50 percent reside in blue states, 50 percent in red states, 33 percent are Democrats, 26 percent Republicans and 32 percent are independents,” the survey said.

“Members of the media were least likely to have difficulty getting things in order” and “were least likely to jump out of their seats at a meeting, but more likely not to wait their turn,” the poll found. The Pennsylvania-based group polled 1,463 adults in 14 occupational categories.

Franken fishing

Talk-radio host Al Franken has amassed $800,000 in Democratic campaign donations, courtesy of “Midwest Values,” his new political action committee. He chose the name “because he was tired of Republicans claiming those values as their own,” Scripps Howard News Service reported yesterday.

Mr. Franken has doled out the funds to Democrats in tight Senate races, including Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Jon Tester in Montana. He gave $20,000 to the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and $500 each to more than 30 legislative candidates.

Mr. Franken may run for office himself one day. For now, he travels his home state of Minnesota with vitriol intact.

“He says Republicans are ‘stealing God,’ adding that the Bible is filled with references to helping the poor. If you cut out all those references, he says, ‘you’d have the perfect box to smuggle Rush Limbaugh’s drugs in.’ ” Scripps added.

On the record

Republican activists Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed landed more than 100 meetings inside the Bush White House, according to documents released yesterday that provide the first official accounting of the access and influence the two presidential allies have enjoyed.

The White House released the Secret Service visit records to settle a lawsuit by the Democratic Party and an ethics-watchdog group seeking visitors logs for the two Republican strategists and others who emerged as figures in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, the Associated Press reports.

White House officials said Mr. Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, was cleared for 97 visits to the White House complex from 2001 to 2006, including a half-dozen with President Bush. Mr. Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia earlier this year, got 18 meetings, including two events with Mr. Bush.

Officials said they think all appointments with Mr. Bush involved larger group settings, such as Christmas parties or policy briefings for Republican Party supporters.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, however, it was possible some of Mr. Norquist’s meetings might have been directly with Karl Rove, the president’s longtime confidant and political strategist.

“He is one of a number of individuals who worked to advance fiscal responsibility, which is one of the key aspects of the president’s agenda,” she said.

Libs love Ah-nawld

“No issue has divided Hollywood’s liberal activists like the upcoming California governor’s race between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angelides. Entertainment community donors who are normally slow to reach for their checkbooks for Republicans have been lining up behind Schwarzenegger’s re-election bid, much to the consternation of liberal activists loath to stray from the Democratic lineup,” Variety said yesterday.

But which Tinseltown players love who? Here’s a little sampling, according to Variety:

For Mr. Schwarzenegger: Sherry Lansing, Jerry Zucker, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, Sony chief Amy Pascal, Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn. For Mr. Angelides: Laurie and Larry David, Arianna Huffington, Barbra Streisand, Magic Johnson, Laura Dern, Jeremy Piven.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.



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