Capital Briefs: June 9-13

RESPONSE  TO RENEGADE:  “Adjusted for inflation, 30 pieces of silver are about $75,000 today.”  That was just one of the lines making the rounds in Washington following the release of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s startling memoir What Happened, for which he reportedly received an advance of $75,000 McClellan now claims he was misled about several issues—notably, the leaking of Valerie Phlame’s employment with the CIA—by Karl Rove and George Bush himself.  This claim has caused widespread skepticism and animosity from those who recall the former administration spokesman behind the podium defending his boss.  In a scathing e-mail to McClellan, former Sen.  Bob Dole wrote:  “There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues. No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique… Syndicated columnist Robert Novak points out (See Page 6. ) that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage—who has since admitted he was the source of the Plame leak to Novak—is first mentioned on page 306 of McClellan’s book and only in passing.  As to whether McClellan resigned on his own, as he has long maintained, or was pushed out, HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi offered his own recollection.  Gizzi recalled how he and other White House correspondents went to  McClellan’s office on April 4, 2006, the day that  rumors about the press secretary’s departure appeared in print.  McClellan insisted, recalled Gizzi, “that the rumors were being planted by someone who wants this job.”  As the reporters left, Gizzi told McClellan that “I hope you stay on,” to which McClellan replied: “So do I.”  Ten days later, his resignation was announced.  

AFTER THE BATTLE:  With Barack Obama’s wrapping up the Democratic nomination last week, a just completed Gallup Poll showed the general election a virtual tie—Obama at 45.6% and John McCain 45.4%.  The same survey showed that Obama has a strong lead (59% to 36%) among voters aged 18-to-29, but that among voters over 65 (who have a history of turning out in far larger numbers), McCain leads Obama 50% to 38%.  However, a Pew Research Poll last week showed the Democratic Party is viewed favorably by 57% of voters, up from 51% a year ago.  In contrast, Pew found Republicans at an historic low with a favorable rating from 39% of voters and viewed unfavorably by 53%. 

“DON’T PICK HER,’ SAYS CARTER:  As insider campaigns  pushed her and the media speculated last week about Barack Obama’s naming Hillary Clinton as his running mate, , one senior Democrat urged the party’s presumptive nominee not to select his former rival.  “I think it would be the worst mistake that could be made,” Jimmy Carter said, citing polls that showed Clinton viewed negatively by 50% of U.S. voters.  In an interview with the Guardian’s “Weekend Magazine,” the former President said that Obama needs “is a person who can compensate for his obvious potential defects,:  his youthfulness, and his lack of long experience in military and international affairs.”  Carter’s personal choice to run with Obama:  fellow Georgian and former Sen. Sam Nunn, who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee before retiring in 1996. 

WARNER-LIEBERMAN IN WAITING:  Sen. Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe is leading what he believes will be an ultimately successful floor fight against the Warner-Lieberman emissions bill, the extreme environmental measure that was about to be taken up by the Senate at the end of last week..  One Capitol Hill source told us “this is something that John McCain and most Western European leaders, and businessmen embrace and the Senate would have looked at favorably last week were it not so busy trying to override  [President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill.”  Considered the most punitively anti-business measure on the Senate calendar, this year, Warner-Lieberman would try to cut emissions through heavy penalties. hat critics say would severely damaged the U.S. economy and, says economist Mark Skousen (See page 5.),impose an historically high tax hike. 

WHAT’S UP WITH NRCC?  Following the third successive loss of a Republican House seat in a special election last month, GOP House members held a closed-door meeting to discuss possible changes at the scandal-plagued National Republican Congressional Committee, including replacing  its chairman, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole.  Sources said that House GOP Leader John Boehner told his colleagues that the party won’t be winning votes until they fix their “brand” and convince voters they can fix Washington.  A special oversight panel of House members to oversee the NRCC was subsequently created by the lawmakers and former NRCC political operative Ed Brookover was brought back to help implement changes in the campaign arm.  During a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, HUMAN EVENTS asked Rep. Tom Davis (R.-Va.), a backer of the changes, if this was a way of diluting Cole’s authority.  “No,” replied Davis, himself a past NRCC chairman, “Tom is happy to have all the help he can have.”  Davis went on to say that Brookover would be reporting to Cole, that he and the new panel would be working on re-electing incumbents, and that Brookover’s position is nothing new and similar to one Barry Jackson (later a Bush White House aide) had when Davis was chairman.  Pressed as to whether the new oversight panel was forced on Cole by his colleagues, Davis quipped that when is going through bad times on a job, “you want as many other people in the room to share the blame.” 

MCCAIN-WILSON? —At the same Monitor breakfast, Davis was asked who is his favorite candidate to be John McCain’s running mate.  The Virginian voiced admiration for Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Charlie Crist of Florida, but added that if Obama goes for a white male, “John McCain might be looking for a woman who could be helpful.”  As for who that might be, Davis listed Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and, to the surprise of the reporters present, New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson, a moderate who had lost the Senate primary the night before to conservative Rep. Steve Pearce.  Quipped Dallas Morning News columnist Carl P. Leubsdorf: “At least her schedule’s a little more flexible after last night.”