June 1999 - Volume 31 Issue 6

by Susan Threadgill

George W. Bush has been notably vague, some would say even evasive, in his answers to questions on his positions on national issues, especially on foreign policy. But he recently wrote to New York Times columnist William Safire "I'm going to understand specific areas better and better as time goes on." Texas voters seem equally vague. When asked by a Scripps Howard poll to name Bush's number one accomplishment as governor, 45 percent couldn't come up with an answer.

Most observers have thought Elizabeth Dole did a bit better when confronted by similar critics ("Thrown by tough questions, Mrs. Dole demurs on issues" was the May 2 headline in The Washington Times). Dole then proceeded to come out for gun control ("I don't think you need an AK-47 to defend your family") and to state that she would not support the constitutional amendment banning abortion that is favored by many conservatives.

Veteran's Affairs Secretary Togo D. West Jr.'s use of public funds to lease a black 1999 Cadillac Fleetwood LT has not won applause from the 1106 VA employees whose layoffs he has approved.

Further doubt about George W. Bush may be inspired by a Zogby poll reported by Reuters that asked voters which of 11 possible candidates they would support for the Republican nomination. The poll had two parts. One named the candidates. Bush got 47 percent. The other gave biographical descriptions of the candidate but not their names. Bush's vote sank to 24 percent.

Incidently, the Republican candidate who gained the most with his life story was Gary Bauer. While his name garnered a measly one percent, his biography got 15 percent.

Congressman Robert L. Barr Jr.'s passion for ethics in government, which seemed so high during the hearings on the impeachment of Bill Clinton, apparently subsides when the issue is closer to home. It seems that he, according to The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin, "has quietly amended a housing bill for the homeless to give a Cobb County [Ga.] housing group headed by his wife, Jeri, preferential treatment in the way federal funds are handed out."

California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante's public disagreement with Governor Gray Davis' decision not to fight Proposition 187's ban on public services for illegal immigrants has produced at least one clear result: The Governor's office has taken back nine parking spaces allotted to the Lt. Governor's staff.

Barbara Feinman Todd was the ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village. But, she tells Capitol Style magazine, the First Lady not only failed to note Todd's efforts in the book's acknowledgments but was responsible for Simon and Schuster's delay in paying the final $30,000 of the $120,000 due Todd. "It's the White House that doesn't want you paid," she was told.

Justice Antonin Scalia rarely takes positions that delight the editors of this magazine. But one that did was when he recently, in the words of The Washington Post's Joan Biskupic, "chided one lawyer for using the milquetoast 'gaming' instead of 'gambling.'"

The Wall Street Journal's A. Craig Copetas recently tracked down Leku Bojku, described as "a central figure in the global network of bankers and paymasters who since last July have furnished the [Kosovo Liberation Army] with some $100 million." Bojku is not your everyday banker. He is in fact a brothel owner. The intrepid Copetas found him "sitting beneath the outstretched claws of a giant stuffed bear in his Espresso Club ... surrounded by two armed bodyguards, five half-naked women, and three of his 'economic advisers' ... his neck draped with a fat gold chain."

During the interview "Bojku puts down his glass of Albanian liquor and straightens the dark glasses perched on his skinhead hairdo" and tells Copetas over the thump of disco music "I'm the head of KLA finances and ready to meet with Bill Clinton." Copetas adds that Bojko "lovingly fingers a Beretta pistol for much of the evening" and that "naughty pictures feature prominently on his glow-in-the-dark business cards."

Back to George W. Bush. He recently told The Washington Post's Dan Balz, "There's too much emphasis on central government." Yet after Littleton, when he came out for background checks for purchasers at gun shows but failed to endorse a bill pending in the Texas legislature that would have required such checks, he explained, according to B. Drummond Ayres Jr. of The New York Times, "that perhaps Congress should take care of the matter." Hmmm.

One of the advantages law firms have is that different partners can back different political candidates so that whichever wins the firm's interests will be protected. This year six partners of the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison have taken this tactic to a new level. Each has made contributions to both Al Gore and Bill Bradley. So have, notes The Wall Street Journal's Phil Kuntz, the CEOs of UAL, Eastman Kodak, and Continential Grain - plus none other than Eppie Lederer, a.k.a. Ann Landers, who explains to Kuntz "I've been a longtime friend of both of them."

When Tom DeLay served in the Texas legislature, he was known as "Hot Tub Tom," a reference to "Hot Tub Heaven," the residence he shared with several other male members. (This is after living in one called "Macho Manor.") We owe this tidbit to The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who also gives DeLay's excuse for skirting service in Vietnam, even though by his own account he was an ardent advocate of the war: "[T]here had been no room for middle-class boys like him, because too many poor and minority youths eager to escape the ghettos had volunteered first." You can just see them elbowing the Texas Republican aside as he desperately struggled to reach the recruiting sergeant's desk.

~Susan Threadgill

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