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Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2001/ 14 Teves, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Mr. Lott's generosity
to the Dems -- GEORGE W. ought to send Trent Lott flowers, to thank him for the grief the Democrats are about to cause Linda Chavez. A bouquet of evening nightshade, perhaps.

When Mr. Lott, who trained for the rough-and-tumble of Washington politics as a cheerleader at Ole Miss, gave up his sword or at least his pom-pons to Tom Daschle the other day, he signaled that the Democrats could roll the Republicans in the Senate without popping a proper sweat.

The conventional Washington speculation is that Mr. Daschle, the Democratic leader, offered a smooth confirmation hearing for John Ashcroft in return for power sharing in the Senate, an agreement by which neither party would claim a majority with all the usual majority perks. Or maybe it was a Daschle promise that no senators would join Maxine Waters and Alcee Hastings in throwing a tantrum at the ceremonial opening of the Electoral College ballots.

Whatever and however, the Democratic leader could hardly contain his credulity when Mr. Lott accepted this sucker's deal, and as soon as it was sealed the Democrats turned their fire away from Mr. Ashcroft to open their campaign against Miss Chavez. (If Bill Clinton has advice for his party, it's that beating up on women is less risky than picking a fight with a man.) The first volley was fired by The Washington Post, with the disclosure that Miss Chavez and her husband had once offered a bed and shelter to a penniless Guatemalan immigrant with no green card even occasionally giving her a few dollars to buy groceries.

This was followed up yesterday by the first wave of fake moral indignation. Who better to express a carefully choreographed outburst of spontaneous outrage than the Senate's own keeper of the eternal flame of piety and probity, the man who still can't bear to go near the water after all these years lest he be spooked by a floating female corpse.

Teddy Kennedy, looking weary from his daily wrestling match with his conscience, pronounced himself "troubled" by the story of Miss Chavez' indiscriminate act of charity. The Associated Press can now describe Miss Chavez as "embattled" and Reuters, the British news agency, even professes to discern a "firestorm" over the nomination (a grease fire in the kitchen at Fawlty Towers can look like a "firestorm" to an easily wowed Brit).

George W., offering ever larger hints that he's a lot tougher than some of the wussies in Congress, a cowering kingdom of tabbies and over-the-hill toms, defended Miss Chavez and added for good measure that he has no intention of offering a pardon to Bill Clinton unless he is first indicted by the U.S. grand jury now considering whether an ex-president ought to be held to the same standard of the law governing you, me and everybody else.

"I've got confidence in Linda Chavez," Mr. Bush said of his choice for secretary of Labor. "I strongly believe that when the Senate gives her a fair hearing, they'll vote for her."

And what about the nation's most celebrated career criminal, now limping to a pathetic exit in a flurry of grand jury speculation and disbarment proceedings? "No, I wouldn't pardon somebody who's not been indicted," George W. said. "The suggestion that I would pardon somebody who has never been indicted, that doesn't make any sense to me."

The prospective indictee himself, sounding like a man with all his things packed for the return trip to Arkansas and a rented room with his mother-in-law, was itching yesterday to get into the fray with sick jokes about Miss Chavez.

He told a meeting of the AFL-CIO, which is organizing the assault on Miss Chavez, that he had prepared "loads of jokes" about her but his staff told him the jokes were too tasteless even for him to peddle.

"They said I have to assume the appropriate role of a former president and I cannot say any of the things I want to say which would leave you howling in the aisles, and the only thing that could give me a headline in my increasing irrelevancy," the president said. "You can just use your imagination."

Nothing Bill Clinton could say or do would any longer surprise anyone, of course, and George W.'s confidence that the Senate will give Miss Chavez a full and fair hearing and then do the right thing may or may not be well placed, but it's what he has to pray for in the wake of the cave to the Senate Democrats. If Trent Lott once an aide, always an aide, in the artful description of Gene McCarthy was willing to give up the Senate leadership to Tom Daschle, a man might have expected him to exact as the price the confirmation of George W.'s entire Cabinet. But such a naive man has never watched these Republicans at work.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden