- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Bush’s lawyer

President Bush has chosen Fred Fielding, formerly the top lawyer in the Reagan administration, to be his White House counsel.

The announcement will be made today, according to a Bush administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the appointment had not been made.

Mr. Fielding, 67, will become Mr. Bush’s counsel just as newly empowered Democrats in Congress plan deeper scrutiny of the administration. From the Iraq war to environmental policy and secret surveillance, the Democrats who now control both the House and Senate are armed with subpoena power and ready to summon panels of witnesses.

Mr. Fielding, a longtime Washington lawyer, will replace Harriet Miers, Mr. Bush’s failed Supreme Court nominee and longtime adviser. She submitted her resignation Thursday after six years in the White House. It will take effect Jan. 31.

Mr. Fielding served as President Reagan’s counsel from 1981 to 1986, where one of his assistants was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of the United States. Under President Nixon, Mr. Fielding served as deputy White House counsel from 1972 to 1974 and associate counsel from 1970 to 1972.

More recently, he served on the bipartisan panel that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Arnold’s plan

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday proposed to extend health coverage to nearly all of California’s 6.5 million uninsured, promising to spread the cost among businesses, individuals, hospitals, doctors, insurers and government.

The plan contains elements that are likely to provoke opposition from a wide range of powerful interests, including doctors, hospitals and insurers, as well as employers and unions. But it also contains incentives for each of them, the Associated Press reports.

All children, regardless of their immigration status, would be covered through an expansion of the state and federal Healthy Families program.

“I don’t think it is a question or a debate if they ought to be covered. … The federal courts have made that decision — that no one can be turned away,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “The question really isn’t to treat them or not to treat them. The question really is how can you treat them in the most cost-effective way.”

Under Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan, all Californians would be required to have insurance, although the poorest would be subsidized. Businesses with 10 or more employees would have to offer insurance to their workers or pay 4 percent of their payroll into a state fund. Smaller businesses would be exempt.

Also, insurers would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people because of their medical problems.

Bush and Ortega

President Bush told Nicaraguan president-elect and former U.S. foe Daniel Ortega yesterday that he hoped to work together on a range of issues, the White House said.

Mr. Bush telephoned Mr. Ortega, who assumes office this week, “to congratulate him and the Nicaraguan people on their commitment to democracy,” said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

“The president expressed his strong commitment to the well-being of the Nicaraguan people and our continued interest in a relationship with Nicaragua, noting such ongoing areas of cooperation” as trade and reform-driven economic development, he said.

“The president also noted that reconciliation, unity, democracy and job creation — the agenda outlined in Daniel Ortega’s election platform — are areas for possible cooperation,” Mr. Johndroe said.

Mr. Ortega, 61, is to be sworn in tomorrow to a five-year term as Nicaragua’s president, Agence France-Presse reports.

Mr. Bush also spoke with outgoingNicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos “to thank him for his service to his country, commitment to democracy and friendship with the United States,” Mr. Johndroe said.

Mr. Ortega was the Marxist leader of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front that ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

He was voted out of power in 1990, and lost two subsequent presidential elections, before prevailing in the election earlier this month to succeed Mr. Bolanos.

Hot flashes

Yesterday’s “Today” show “opened with Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer amazed at the warm temperatures in New York City, and of course it didn’t take long before the specter of global warming was raised,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mrc.org.

“Lauer ominously opened the show: ‘Meanwhile, a record warm weekend in the East has people wondering what’s going on.’ Vieira went even further as she bluntly blurted: ‘So, I’m running in the park on Saturday, in shorts, thinking this is great,, but are we all gonna die? You know? I can’t, I can’t figure this out.’

“But when it came to an actual scientific-based opinion, WNBC weatherman Chris Cimino, filling in for Al Roker, didn’t exactly jump to blame global warming … at first. Initially, Cimino was noncommittal about blaming global warming, instead focusing on El Nino, but lest he risk the wrath of his ‘Today’ show anchors he did cover his liberal bases as he asserted: ‘Of course, the bottom line is you don’t throw a lot of greenhouse gases into the air no matter what, whether it affects the weather or not.’ ”

Next assignment

The man who managed former Sen. George Allen’s unsuccessful re-election campaign says he’ll run for Colorado state Republican Party chairman.

Colorado House Minority Leader Mike May andSenate Minority Leader Andy McElhany say the state party needs a strong leader after losing a U.S. Senate seat, two U.S. House seats, the governor’s office and control of the legislature in the last two elections.

Dick Wadhams managed successful campaigns for Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard in 1996 and 2002 and Gov. Bill Owens in 1998 — when Mr. Owens became the first Republican elected governor of the state in 24 years.

Mr. Wadhams says he believes he can help the party get past its internal differences, the Associated Press reports.

First debate

South Carolina Democrats will hold the first debate of the 2008 presidential cycle on April 26 at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg County, which has the largest concentration of black voters in this early-voting state.

The 90-minute debate at the historically black college will be televised by MSNBC, state party officials said yesterday.

“Democratic candidates can rest assured that their campaign messages will be heard by millions of South Carolina voters and NBC viewers across the country,” state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin said.

South Carolina was selected as an early-voting state in a move intended to add racial and geographic diversity to the early voting.

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

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