- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2007

Greenspan’s views

Alan Greenspan is still making news a week after he criticized President Bush and Republicans for lacking fiscal restraint and said the war in Iraq was about oil.

Appearing yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the former Federal Reserve chairman said Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon were the smartest presidents he worked for and said Mr. Clinton was the best “Republican” president of recent memory.

“It’s a tossup between Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. They were both extraordinarily intelligent,” Mr. Greenspan said. “The one thing, however, that Clinton did which I just found awesome was, he went before the Congress in his State of the Union message and somebody put the wrong speech in the TelePrompTer, and I don’t know anybody who knew the difference. And I’m telling you, that requires a degree of intellectual capabilities which is awesome.”

When asked why Mr. Clinton was a good “Republican” president, Mr. Greenspan said he often found himself agreeing with the Arkansas Democrat’s fiscal policies, writes reporter Eric Pfeiffer of The Washington Times.

“I’m sure he doesn’t like that joke, but if you look at his record compared to what I think appropriate policy ought to be, he’s for free trade, he’s for globalization, he was for welfare reform, fiscal restraint and true enough, he’s not a Republican,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Mr. Nixon, on the other hand, drew a dual distinction from Mr. Greenspan, who said he was “by multiple quantities” the “most profane” president he’d worked for.

Mr. Greenspan said Gerald Ford was the most “normal” president he’d met, while George H.W. Bush “put the most political pressure” on him. He also declined an opportunity to further criticize the current President Bush on fiscal matters by flatly stating that every president he’s worked with was “fairly knowledgeable” on economic matters.

A big moment

“Congress will soon ship the White House a bill that throws huge amounts of new dollars at the government’s health-insurance program for children. President Bush will veto it. What happens next will demonstrate whether the beleaguered Mr. Bush has any hope of getting his party to toe the fiscal line in upcoming spending battles, and by consequence whether Republicans have any hope of restoring their fiscal credibility with voters,” Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel writes.

“It’s a big moment, all the more so because the battle over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, is a perfect first example of how Democrats intend to play their spending fights this fall. They’re demanding at least $30 billion more than Mr. Bush’s own generous $5 billion SCHIP increase. Any congressional Republican who votes against this hike will be accused of leaving ‘poor kids’ to suffer without health care. The goal here, as it will be in all the big money fights to come — appropriations bills, a farm bill — will be to make it too politically hot for Republicans to stand by their spending principle,” the writer said.

“So far, that strategy is working a treat. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner both understand that this fall is their big opportunity to make things right with the base, at least on spending, prior to next year’s election. They’ve been exhorting — or perhaps better to say begging, pleading, beseeching — their members to think about the lost GOP brand, and to help President Bush snap shut the government wallet. At least in private, the members keep assuring their leaders that, yes, yes, they get it.

“But as SCHIP shows, this resolve wafts away in the face of any Democratic press conference accusing Republicans of meanness toward children.”

Hillary’s stance

“The clatter of campaign promises being thrown out the window” was how the [now-deceased] Sen. Daniel Moynihan famously scolded a congressional witness 15 years ago. Fast-forward to the current campaign of Moynihan’s successor, and one hears a different but no less disconcerting clatter. It is the sound of Sen. Hillary Clinton throwing away the chance to build support in the military she hopes to command,” New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.

“With her refusal to denounce the far-left MoveOn.org for its smear of our top commander in Iraq, Clinton has taken another big step away from the center of American politics. On the most important issue of our times — Iraq and the fight against Islamic terrorism — the Democratic presidential front-runner has thrown her lot in with the radicals, kooks and nuts that litter the wackadoo wing. And she has turned her back on our soldiers and their leaders during wartime,” Mr. Goodwin said.

“This is not the first time she has gone AWOL on the military. Back in May, Clinton voted to cut off all funds for the war. That she was in a small minority then was an alarming indication of how far she was willing to go to placate the antiwar base of the party. It was not, we know now, an aberration.

“In the May vote, she was one of only 14 senators to support cutting off funds. In last week’s resolution that saluted Gen. David Petraeus and denounced MoveOn for calling him ‘General Betray Us’ in a newspaper ad, Clinton’s no vote was one of only 25, with 72 senators voting yes.

“It is a sorry spectacle, and incomprehensible because her lurch is wrong in terms of policy and politically unnecessary. The far-left-wing does not elect presidents or usually even pick nominees. Ask Howard Dean.”

Spy boosters

“It takes a rare football fan to endorse spying amid the current scandal swirling around the New England Patriots. But we’ve found one: CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“While celebrating the agency’s 60th birthday, he went on hometown radio station WDVE to brag about his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, where a host brought up the Pats affair. Hayden said that it’s the talk of the agency. ‘Spying is a good thing for some organizations,’ he said. ‘It’s just a bad thing if you’re an NFL football team.’

At the birthday barbecue later that day, former President George H.W. Bush toasted the agency he once ran with some cheerleading. He decried ‘doomsayers who know so little about what you do,’ adding: ‘That really burns me up.’ And even though nearly half the 1,500 barbecue-goers weren’t born when Bush ran Langley in the 1970s, he received a standing O.”

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

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