Capital Briefs: Oct. 2-6

The Unwagged Dog:

During the temper tantrum he threw on “Fox News Sunday” September 24, former President Bill Clinton told host Chris Wallace that anybody seeking the truth about how he tried to kill Osama bin Laden need only consult former National Security Council aide Richard Clarke. “Richard Clarke and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get bin Laden and came closer, apparently, than anybody has since.…  And you guys try to create the opposite impression, when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true. It’s just not true.”

So how did Clarke characterize Clinton’s response to bin Laden? Appearing on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on March 24, 2004, to discuss his book, Clarke said: “I criticize the Clinton Administration, too. And I did so today in my testimony before the 9/11 commission. The news media did not cover that in the evening news, but I did criticize the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration, I think, equally. You know, the Clinton Administration failed to bomb the camps that were in Afghanistan that we knew were there. They bombed them once, Clinton bombed them once, the public reaction was negative to that. Remember, wag the dog, everyone said Clinton is just bombing Afghanistan to divert attention from the Monica business. And so he didn’t bomb them again. And that was during a time when they were turning out thousands of terrorists, trained terrorists.…  I thought they should have been blown up. I recommended it. And it didn’t happen. I criticize the Clinton Administration for that.”

Schlesinger Shunned:

When President Bush appeared at a fundraising event in Connecticut last week for the state Republican Party, GOP Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger was nowhere in sight. With the White House ignoring the Republican candidate in the race among Schlesinger, Democrat Ned Lamont and Democrat-turned-Independent Joe Lieberman, the GOP nominee has been running third in polls and fundraising. “I asked [State Republican Chairman] George Gallo if Alan could attend the event with the President,” Schlesinger campaign manager Dick Foley told HUMAN EVENTS, “and he said, ‘Sure, if he pays $15,000 like everyone else.’” (Gallo subsequently confirmed the story to us, but added that he later called and said there was room available for Schlesinger to attend.)

Candidate in the Cold:

Although White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has said that the President is neutral in the Connecticut Senate race on the advice of state party leaders, HUMAN EVENTS obtained a copy of an August 25 letter from state GOP Chairman Gallo to local party leaders saying the state party was “unanimously” behind Schlesinger.

When HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi cited the letter to Snow on September 8, Snow suggested, “You talk again to Mr. Gallo. There have been follow-on conversations, and he says we think that the proper position to take is just for you [Bush and the White House] not to participate in this election.” Gizzi spoke to Gallo, who said the Republican National Committee asked him: “What are your priorities?” “I told them it was re-electing [Gov.] Jodi Rell and our three House members and holding onto the state senate. If the Senate race evolved and came onto our radar screen, I would change that view, but so far, my targets remain the same.”

The Bolton Plan:

If Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) continues thwarting a Senate vote to confirm John Bolton as the permanent U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the White House plans to make a second recess appointment of the embattled diplomat. According to an administration source who requested anonymity, if the Senate does not vote on Bolton before his current recess appointment expires December 18, the President will again name Bolton to the post during Congress’ post-election recess. In order for Bolton to be paid, however, he would also have to be appointed to a different position while his formal title would have to be changed. “Obviously, we would prefer a Senate vote and the almost-certain confirmation for John Bolton,” said the source.

Oops!: In our Page Three list of the polls of U.S. Senate races last week, we omitted the race in Utah, where 30-year Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch will defeat millionaire Democrat Pete Ashdown. The latest Mason-Dixon Poll shows Hatch leading Ashdown by 61% to 27% statewide.

Bloggers’ Victory:

HUMAN EVENTS Online Editor Rob Bluey was invited to the White House last week for the signing of the Federal Funding and Accountability Act. Bluey was a key player in getting the bill passed by Congress.

The new law will create a free, online searchable database of all federal contracts and grants by 2008. At the signing ceremony, President Bush said: “We spend a lot of time and a lot of effort collecting your money, and we should show the same amount of effort in reporting how we spend it.” Fiscal hawk Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) was joined by Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) in pushing the bill in the U.S. Senate. When it was discovered that a “secret hold” had been placed on it, Bluey and his blogger allies took up the cause to sniff out which senator was the culprit. They encouraged their readers to call Senate offices and send e-mails to Senate staffers to out the rascal and get the bill moving. Within days, Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska) gave himself up. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) seized the opportunity and brought the bill up for a swift vote. In the House, Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) championed the measure. Clay Johnson, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, “The public has spoken is the lesson here, and when the public speaks, things happen, and when the public wants something to happen, the Congress listens.” Johnson met with Bluey and other bloggers for nearly an hour after the ceremony, illustrating the growing importance of bloggers not only on a political level—as is often reported—but also in terms of influencing policy on Capitol Hill.