Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I have been spending considerable time at the "Corporate HQ" lately. In the men's room, there's a recycling bin full of "OpinionOnline" columns from the Wall St. Journal's website. I can picture it: Each morning, admin. assts print out the official daily think piece, so the big shots will know what precisely to think on the "issues" each day.

This just gets better and better.

"'Ain't going to happen,'" Mr. DeLay said this afternoon, reiterating his stance that the credits would be approved only as part of a much larger tax-cut bill, an $82 billion package that House Republicans unveiled later in the day and plan to bring to the floor on Thursday.

"...Reminded at a news conference that Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, had said that Mr. Bush wanted the House to pass the Senate bill quickly, Mr. DeLay reacted derisively.

"'The last time I checked, he doesn't have a vote,'" Mr. DeLay said of Mr. Fleischer.

Alan Murray wrote about this yesterday, in the Journal's "Political Capital" column. "The big political divide in Washington these days isn't between Republicans and Democrats; it's between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. House leaders hate their Senate counterparts so much they can't see straight. Which may be why they keep walking into obvious pitfalls."

This animosity is not new, but it grew more intense during the Gingrich revolution. And it reached what seemed its apogee during the Clinton impeachment fight. The Senate Republicans, knowing how ridiculous the charges were and how ridiculous they'd look, were dragged kicking and screaming into holding the Impeachment trial. Even then, they sneered at the political deafness and sanctimoniousness of hypocrites like Henry Hyde, while the House managers were practically driven insane by the aloofness of the Senate Republicans, who they saw as gutless prima donnas.

Should be fun to watch, though it's doubtful it will hurt Bush. He can stand above it, claiming to have changed the tone in Washington -- now everyone hates everyone else!

Today's Journal has John Harwood extolling the virtues of Fla. Senator and Dem. presidential hopeful, Bob Graham. "Winning or Losing, Graham Aids Party By Attacking Bush" is the headline. According to Harwood, his role is "to swing a battering ram at the foundation of...Bush's support."

"Despite political storms on both sides of the Atlantic, most Americans say they expect the coalition to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; Mr. Graham accuses President Bush of 'willingness to politically manipulate intelligence' on this issue. Most Americans backed the war on Saddam Hussein's regime [I'm not so sure about that, wasn't it 50/50 or so?]; Mr. Graham says it weakened the fight against al Qaeda. Most Americans consider Mr. Bush a strong leader against terrorism; Mr. Graham accuses him of a 'coverup' of a Congressional inquiry into his pre-Sept. 11 record."

In a race in which most of the other candidates are running from national security issues, Harwood writes, Graham is "challenging Mr. Bush's national-security leadership from the right."

"A report last week...detailed how the president and other administration officials submerged in public discussion the doubts some intelligence analysts expressed...about the meaning of available information about Iraqi weapons programs. Republicans fear pending Congressional investigations could trigger a round of public finger pointing within the administration that would be more damaging than rhetoric from any Democrat. Even if Americans conclude the president merely exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons -- using the political equivalent of the cork in Sammy Sosa's bat -- that could have significant consequences in a close 2004 election."

Vaguely familiar of Kennedy's accusation that the Eisenhower/Nixon helped bring on the "missile gap." Look where it got him.

Speaking of Sammy, here's the best piece yet I've seen on the "batting practice bat" and ensuing media bloviating.

And speaking of baseball, who'd of thought that a column on Hall of Fame knuckler Phil Niekro would leave me misty-eyed?


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