Meeting the Presidents
Speaking about his new book, A History of the American People, at the American Enterprise Institute today, Paul Johnson recounted several humorous personal encounters with U.S. presidents. Richard Nixon, as vice president in the 1950s, made this observation in Johnson's presence about Dwight D. Eisenhower: "He's the most devious man I know." When Johnson first met Ronald Reagan, the president said, "Good to see you again, Paul."
And the White House's current occupant? "I have not yet had the pleasure to get to know Bill Clinton. After all, I'm male."
A Good Deed by Gingrich
The Speaker intervened this week to break the logjam on the State Department reorganization bill, held up by fighting over abortion funding. Conservatives want to reinstate the Reagan administration's Mexico City policy, which barred U.S. funds from going to organizations that perform abortions or advocate their legalization abroad, and have been willing to amend pretty much any foreign-policy bill to do it. After deciding that pro-lifers had compromised as much as could reasonably be expected, Gingrich used his power—acquired for the Speaker by his predecessor Tom Foley (D., Wash.) but never before exercised—to replace a member of the conference committee. Gingrich replaced pro-abortion Jim Leach (R., Iowa) with pro-lifer Dan Burton (R., Ind.), who better represents the position of the caucus. Pro-lifers prevailed and the logjam was broken. If the bill passes—still not a sure thing—the abortion issue won't cloud the IMF funding bill, which conservatives can now cleanly oppose.
Why do Republicans who have never met Betty Currie blithely repeat the Democratic spin about how she is above reproach, would never tell a lie, etc.? All these things may well be true, but let's remember that she is also a liberal Democrat. Fortysomethings do not pick up and move to Arkansas to work on a presidential campaign unless they are highly committed activists. If it turns out that she's dissembling or conveniently forgetting on Clinton's behalf, what are these Republicans going to say? More generally, continuing to work for Bill Clinton must after a certain point be regarded as a mark against her integrity—and that of all the rest of his entourage. Mike McCurry and Paul Begala can't get a free pass forever.
For a selection of recent Washington Bulletins
Ramesh Ponnuru - National Reporter
John J. Miller - National Political Reporter
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