Rodham Brothers Run Amok; Bradley’s Heroic Socialism; Quindlen Roots for Shooting?
1. Time’s Viveca Novak and Jay Branegan probed Hillary’s brothers Tony and Hugh Rodham and how they have used their familial connections to muck up diplomacy in the former Soviet Union for their own financial gain. Are we seeing Billy Carter with double vision?
2. Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs yearned to break free of small-bore government activism a la Clinton-Gore. "It is Bradley's challenge to every other candidate: Why should they not dare to dream heroic dreams? as Ronald Reagan once put it."
3. In U.S. News, Kenneth Walsh explored Al Gore and George W. Bush in their 20s: Gore was "on a personal journey to find moral clarity about his country's sins, his role in its most divisive war of the 20th century, and, more broadly, his mission in life." Bush "was looking for thrills, as a part-time military fighter pilot and eligible bachelor on the prowl in Houston."
4. Liddy Dole dropped out of the presidential race, but the magazines weren’t as eager as the networks to blame the supposedly sorry campaign finance system.
5. Newsweek and Time pondered the possibility that John McCain is a campaign-finance hypocrite.
6. New Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, fresh from the magazine’s party in her honor with Tom Brokaw and other media bigwigs, announced: Maybe we really need another school shooting.
7. U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers noted that the White House promised to get "very aggressive" in going around a Republican Congress with executive orders.
The November 1 issues again steered clear of politics in their cover packages. Time announced the popularity of "Low-Carb Diets: Meat-loving, bread-banning regimes are the rage." Newsweek welcomed the millennium by exploring "Prophecy." U.S. News & World Report explained ""Why It Pays to Quit." Newsweek carried an advice memo to Gore from ABC’s "objective reporter" George Stephanopoulos: "Show them the person behind the vice-presidential seal. Tell them about growing up in Tennessee, but also take them on a journey into the Oval Office during the budget showdown with Newt Gingrich." Of course, one flaw in his advice is that Al Gore really can’t describe growing up in Tennessee, considering he grew up in a hotel in Washington, D.C.
A few weeks after The Washington Post’s David Ignatius first broached the subject, Time’s Viveca Novak and Jay Branegan probed Hillary’s brothers Tony and Hugh Rodham and how they have used their familial connections to muck up diplomacy in the former Soviet Union for their own financial gain. The first incident described in the unique and illuminating story involved a hazelnut venture in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. "The first sign of trouble appeared when Georgian officials got upset that the group was going straight to Batumi, a stronghold in the western region of the country ruled by political potentate Aslan Abashidze, a powerful rival to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, a U.S. ally. White House officials urged the group to make a stop in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi first and meet with Shevardnadze, which they did." But Georgian news reports suggested Abashidze trumpeted "the possibility of political support rendered to him by U.S. President Bill Clinton." Pressure from National Security Adviser Sandy Berger forced them to back down on the hazelnut deal due to the rupture in Georgian politics the brothers had caused. Tony insisted they’re "restructuring" the deal.
But the most eye-catching incident is one involving the mayor of Moscow. "In 1997, sources tell Time, Tony, working a a consultant for a company trying to do business in Russia, arranged a White House meeting for Moscow’s powerful Mayor Yuri Luzhkov....Former White House officials tell Time that this was touchy business; Luzhkov, a potential successor to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, has been accused of having links to Russian mobsters. Recently he had been involved in a dispute with an American businessman who was subsequently found murdered in Moscow. That it was Tony who was requesting the meeting with Luzhkov made things very uncomfortable for Berger, according to someone familiar with the episode. But on a Saturday in April 1997, when few people would notice, Berger nonetheless agreed to meet with Luzhkov, and Clinton agreed to come by." To further emphasize the special treatment the Rodham brothers received, the article states how "another prominent American working in Russian relations, who asked not to be named, made a similar call on Luzhkov’s behalf and had no luck at all."
Novak and Branegan also outlined some of Hugh’s ventures within the U.S., the most prominent being the lawsuit against Big Tobacco. "Hugh helped arrange some White House meetings for some of the negotiators with deputy White House counsel Bruce Lindsey and others." As a signal of their tone-deafness, Hugh claimed of his Big Tobacco adventures: "It was totally unforeseen when we joined...that there would be any connection with politics." Of course, despite this, the authors describe Tony and Hugh Rodham as "colorful, likable men."
Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs yearned to break free of small-bore government activism a la Clinton-Gore. She began this week’s take on Campaign 2000: "Give Bill Bradley credit for this much: he has put a big idea on the table. Not the $65 billion plan to provide health insurance for just about everyone; not a social agenda extending full civil rights to gays; not even the plan he unveiled last week to devote $10 billion to address the ‘slow-motion national disaster’ of child poverty. No, the big idea was the very idea of having a big idea."
Gibbs emphasized Bradley’s Great Society-style positioning in the race and, in one preposterous moment, compared Bradley to Ronald Reagan. "In the twilight of Clintonism, amid the debris of divided government, the question Bradley boots up is this: Are we finally prosperous enough, generous enough, and above all trusting enough to ask the government to do anything that's big and important? And if not now, when? And if not government, working with churches and civic groups and businesses and individuals, then who? It is Bradley's challenge to every other candidate: Why should they not dare to dream heroic dreams? as Ronald Reagan once put it. And now it is their challenge to make the case that a big idea is not always a good idea."
Gibbs declared that "Bradley appeals to the Democrats outsize dreams of the New Deal era," and "on most issues, he is mainly promising to spend more rather than spend differently." But she concluded that Bradley represents idealism to Gore’s green-eyeshade realism: "Democrats next year will have a real choice. They just have to ask themselves the hard questions: Is fiscal discipline, and the buoyant economy that feeds it, now so much a part of the democratic bloodstream that voters will always watch the bottom line? Or are they more interested in where we go next than in what it took to get here, and are willing to trust the dreamer will find the money somewhere to pay for all he wants to do?"
In Newsweek, Jonathan Alter found no ideological chasm between Bradley and Gore: "The word ‘liberal’ remains verboten, but both candidates still want the scent of it around them during the primaries. Gore, who pushed Clinton to the center on fiscal issues and welfare reform, is moving left on labor and the environment. Bradley, who spent much of his time in the Senate on moderate issues like promoting free trade, wants it known that he opposed the 1996 welfare-reform bill backed by Gore, though he's not saying he would repeal it. True liberals are in a state of some confusion."
In U.S. News, Kenneth Walsh wrote a profile of Al Gore and George W. Bush and their experiences in their 20s. Walsh emphasized Gore’s struggles with Vietnam service and his attempt to find meaning for his life. With Bush, he focuses on W.’s extravagant and freewheeling lifestyle. He touched on the cocaine issue but also mentioned Gore’s marijuana use.
Walsh wrote: "As chairman of Vanderbilt University's Graduate Department of Religion, Jack Forstman counseled scores of young men who were trying to avoid the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Some were tormented by moral doubts about the conflict; others opposed the taking of any human life; most were scared about their own lives. Al Gore was different. The stocky 23-year-old with the slow Tennessee drawl and the sad, dark eyes was not looking for a way to dodge the draft; he had, in fact, just completed five months in Vietnam. He told Forstman he was "a seeker" – on a personal journey to find moral clarity about his country's sins, his role in its most divisive war of the 20th century, and, more broadly, his mission in life."
Walsh continued: "That same month – August 1971 – 25-year-old George W. Bush was on a quest of his own, and it had nothing to do with moral clarity. ‘Little George,’ as he was called, was looking for thrills, as a part-time military fighter pilot and eligible bachelor on the prowl in Houston. Even though the nation was racked by anti-Vietnam protests that summer, Bush's thinking was simple: He would go to Vietnam if his Texas Air National Guard unit was called – a remote possibility. In the meantime, Bush wandered through what he calls his "nomadic years" – flying F-102 Delta Dagger jets on practice missions, dabbling sporadically in politics, hopping among jobs, and searching for fun with women, beer, and bourbon."
Walsh dealt with both candidates’ chemical claims. Bush "has admitted being a heavy drinker and has left open the possibility that he might have used cocaine or other illegal drugs during this period....Gore's lifestyle during this period included marijuana use. He began using pot in college and has admitted smoking it as a soldier, while at Vanderbilt, and as a reporter at the Nashville Tennessean – until he was 24. Gore now says his use of marijuana was wrong because it broke the law and set a bad example.....People familiar with the social scene in Houston at that time say cocaine was often used by affluent, young singles, but there is no evidence that Bush took the drug himself. He refuses to address the issue, saying that he took no illegal drugs after 1974 and that anything he did before is irrelevant to his presidential campaign."
Liddy Dole dropped out of the presidential race, but the magazines weren’t as eager as the networks to blame the supposedly sorry campaign finance system. Up front, Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom Watch" declared: "The CW always likes 'em when they go. Classy lady, but not cut out for this business." Time’s "Winners and Losers" made her the lead loser: "Prez dreams go up in a mushroom cloud of hair spray. But still better qualified than W."
Newsweek and U.S. News gave voice to the argument that lack of campaign finance reform drove her out of the race but they primarily attributed Dole’s withdrawal to the fact that she was just not that good a candidate. Only Time took the position that no campaign finance reform made for no President Dole. U.S. News blamed a "lackadaisical" campaign: "Like many presidential candidates before her, Elizabeth Dole looked better on paper than on the stump. Nice résumé, good connections, well-known name. But the campaign trail has a way of sorting out paper candidates from real ones – and last week Dole folded her tents, without ever having officially announced her candidacy. ‘The bottom line remains money,’ Dole said, setting off a flurry of breast-beating articles on the evil influence of the almighty dollar on American politics. But blaming money ignored the fact that Dole's saccharine speaking style and lackadaisical campaign schedule failed to build support while begging the question: If Dole was such an appealing candidate, how come more people didn't contribute to her? She is a long shot for a vice presidential nod. What candidate wants to have to deal with her chief adviser – and sometime embarrassment – Bob Dole?"
Debra Rosenberg of Newsweek echoed the same argument in her piece on Dole’s withdrawal and even criticized Dole’s strategy on gun control. "Money alone may not explain Dole's inability to catch fire with voters. Though she had solid credentials – two-time cabinet secretary, Red Cross president – she was a rookie to elective politics. She was uneasy with reporters, and at times her penchant for perfection undercut the spontaneity and quick reflexes campaign life demands. Dole never articulated a clear agenda, and the issues that did win her attention, her centrist positions on abortion and gun control, may have alienated many of the conservatives she needed."
Time did not feature a story a Dole’s withdrawal, but a few statistics it played up indicate where it places the blame: Republican failure to pass "campaign finance reform." In a section titled "Numbers," Time compared Dole’s fundraising to that of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and then states how many years there have been in the Senate when a campaign finance reform bill has been defeated. The "numbers" are: "$4.8 million – total funds raised by Elizabeth Dole before she bowed out of the presidential race last week. $1.8 million – total amount Abraham Lincoln spent on his 1860 campaign, in 1999 dollars. 4 – number of years that a campaign finance reform bill has been defeated in the Senate without a full debate."
Newsweek and Time pondered the possibility that John McCain is a campaign-finance hypocrite. Michael Isikoff of Newsweek outlined how McCain is the beneficiary of over a half million dollars worth of campaign contributions from communication and other high-tech companies and charges of a double standard by his Senate colleagues. Isikoff writes, "With Elizabeth Dole's withdrawal from the presidential race, McCain is gaining strength – and hopes to ride money reforms into the White House. ‘It's the basis of my campaign,’ he told Newsweek. Yet some Senate colleagues – and more than a few lobbyists – gripe that there is a not-too-subtle inconsistency between McCain's reform crusade and his own fund-raising. McCain told Newsweek there is nothing improper about his methods – though he is quick to admit that he has what he calls ‘an appearance problem.’ In the last election, he amassed $562,000 in contributions from the communications industry – more than anyone in the Senate...McCain himself concedes his intermingling of lawmaking and fund-raising is problematic. ‘I have been guilty of the appearance of corruption,’ he says. But, he insists, he has no choice. If he didn't collect cash from companies with business before his committee, he says, he couldn't compete with his better-funded rivals. At least, he argues, he's trying to minimize the corrupting influence of money."
John F. Dickerson and Viveca Novak of Time noted the irony of McCain using the system he loves to rail against. "Is this any way for a ‘maverick’ to behave? Last week Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the presidential race crying poverty. Meanwhile, McCain’s day job lets him play at Washington’s favorite pastime, taking donations from corporations that can be made or broken by his committee. The irony is that the champion of campaign finance reform uses the system he runs against to get the money to stay in the race. It’s working. He’s second in New Hampshire. It ‘rings a little hollow,’ complained Senate majority leader Trent Lott of McCain’s efforts. Guilty, says McCain. ‘I know there’s an appearance problem but I have never pressured a lobbyist to contribute.’....He also says the donations are too small to be corrupting."
New Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, fresh the magazine’s party in her honor with Tom Brokaw and other media bigwigs, announced: Maybe we really need another school shooting. After lashing out against the NRA and all those who dare believe in the Second Amendment, she presented a fascinating solution to resolve the gun control debate in this country. Here is exactly what she penned: "Perhaps it will take one more school shooting to move the majority of Americans into a position more powerful than that of the NRA. Perhaps it will take one more school shooting to move us from people who support gun control to people who vote it. But as we continue to let the widows and the wounded do the work, be warned. That next school may be the one your children attend; the next accident could be close to home."
Quindlen should check out John Stossel’s Friday 20/20 piece on ABC noting schools are the safest place for children.
In U.S. News & World Report’s "Washington Whispers" section, Paul Bedard explained how President Clinton intends to get around the constitutional process for making laws. He described a White House strategy called "Project Podesta." "White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, frustrated with the balky Republican Congress, thinks it's time for President Clinton to show who's boss. How? Clinton plans a series of executive orders and changes to federal rules that he can sign into law without first getting the OK from GOP naysayers. Since it's Podesta's idea, aides have dubbed it ‘Project Podesta.’ The namesake told our Kenneth T. Walsh: ‘There's a pretty wide sweep of things we're looking to do, and we're going to be very aggressive in pursuing it.’ Up first: new rules to protect medical privacy and health-care records and providing paid leave to parents to take care of their newborns."
Democracy and our constitutional system of checks and balances can be such an inconvenience. What were our Founding Fathers thinking?
-- Paul Smith
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