Attack dog

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 25, 2003 12:00 AM

The Democratic National Committee, in dire need of campaign cash, has enlisted CNN "Crossfire" co-host James Carville to call President Bush a liar.

Writing on behalf of the DNC, Carville says the president's re-election strategy will be to continue politicizing the Sept. 11 terrorist atrocities while questioning the patriotism of Democrats - who he says only want answers about Bush's "State of the Union lies."

Carville says Bush dreams "about a country with no debate and no dissent," and calls another four years of his leadership "almost unimaginable."

NEW SPOKESMAN

Michael Reagan, eldest son of Ronald Reagan, is joining the daily-talk lineup of Washington-based Radio America.

Heard for nearly 10 years over the Premiere Radio Network, Reagan is now joining the very network on which his father, while president, gave his weekly radio addresses.

Radio America President Jim Roberts says he intends to promote Reagan's show aggressively and says the presidential son will be relied upon heavily as a spokesman for the network.

IMPROVING WITH MONICA

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin writes in his new book, "In an Uncertain World," what happens when politics and economics collide.

Like when Monica Lewinsky collided with the Asian economic crisis.

"The Lewinsky revelations . . . resulted in far less attention being paid to events overseas," Rubin acknowledges. "The distraction kept the public from recognizing the threat from crisis abroad to the stability of the U.S. economy."

As a result, on "the same day in August 1998 that Russia became the first of the crisis countries to default on its foreign debt, the president testified before a grand jury and made a televised speech apologizing to the nation about Monica Lewinsky."

Still, the former Treasury secretary, who now heads the executive committee of Citigroup, says he "truly admired the way Clinton had dealt with the crisis - even though the crisis was of his own making. He was remarkably focused and intent, doing his work while the storm raged around him."

And, like everybody else, "I wondered how the president could do this. Sometime later, we had an interesting conversation. We'd been discussing the vice president's campaigning difficulties during the primaries, and Clinton told me that he had used 'mental devices' to help him through the Lewinsky period . . . (and) he thought Gore might use similar techniques to overcome his difficulties and campaign more effectively."

Incredibly enough, Rubin took these "mental devices" Mr. Clinton revealed and, for lack of his own personal crisis, applied them to his tennis game.

"While playing, I kept in mind the thought that even . . . a fine tennis player makes a lot of errors; the object is to focus on hitting the shot as well as possible and not to worry about either the likelihood of messing up or the outcome of the point," he says.

"When I told (political operative) Steve Friedman that the Lewinsky matter had improved my tennis game, he waited with bated breath for what I had to say. He may have been somewhat disappointed by my explanation."

BUSH VS. BLANK

Mr. Fundraiser himself, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, is obviously impressed - and worried - over George W. Bush's campaign fundraising ability.

Observing in a memo we obtained that President Bush has just broken the $100 million mark in fundraising, McAuliffe states: "This breaks all presidential fundraising records in history. No candidate has ever had this much cash in the bank this early - or ever - in an election."

The DNC chairman informs the Democratic Party that it must have an additional $500,000 in the door by Dec. 15 to reach its 2003 financial goal.

"If we do not make this goal, we will move into 2004 already behind. We can't let this happen," he says, adding that matters are made worse by the fact that "Bush is running unopposed in the GOP primary."

Which obviously isn't the case in his party, which features an entire stage of Democrats vying for the White House next November.

As McAuliffe warns: "The clock is ticking."

ABOUT FACE

We were surprised to see New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, show up at a National Press Club press conference for MoveOn.org - helping to introduce the "independent" organization's new TV ads attacking President Bush.

As you might know, MoveOn.org is one of several groups to receive millions of dollars in "soft money" from billionaire activist George Soros, who is doling out huge wads of cash to anybody who can help defeat Bush.

But back to Corzine. It becomes obvious that, like other Capitol Hill politicians, he's had a recent change of heart when it comes to injecting soft money in politics. Here's what the good senator had to say just last year during debate on campaign-finance reform:

"For the past several years, the amount of unregulated soft money in our campaign system has reached staggering proportions. Soft money has had the insidious effect of holding too many political candidates accountable to large individual donors, rather than the people they are elected to represent ... (and) was a scourge on our political process that we are much better off without."

TURNING POINT

Reacting to Sen. John Kerry's newly announced proposals to strengthen U.S. productivity, the National Association of Manufacturers' chief advocate for small- and medium-sized manufacturers says he's "heartened to see that another presidential candidate appears to understand just how important small manufacturers are to our U.S. economy."

"This appears to be a turning point for Senator Kerry, who compiled but a 7 percent NAM Key Vote rating during the 107th Congress while Massachusetts was on its way to losing more than 80,000 factory jobs since July 2000," NAM Senior Vice President Patrick Cleary says.

"The senator's new proposals are welcomed, but until he and his political allies are willing to take real action against self-imposed domestic costs, American manufacturers will be hamstrung in the face of unprecedented global competition."

BLACK MUSEUM

The Senate has approved legislation that would allot $17 million toward construction of an African-American History Museum on the National Mall. Another $15 million would be earmarked for educational programs, teaching visitors about slavery, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement. An advisory committee now will work alongside the Smithsonian Institute and has one year to find a suitable building site.

ROUND TWO

Eggs and grits are greeting former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, back for "round two" in his quest to reach Capitol Hill. As part of his 2004 Senate campaign, the North Carolina investment banker was most recently in Kinston smiling, shaking hands and politicking. Losing the 2002 Senate race to Republican Elizabeth Dole, Bowles now has his eyes on the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. John Edwards, who covets the chair in the Oval Office.

EXCLUDING OTHERS

A complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission charging that at least six Democratic primary debates held between May 4 and Oct. 26 violate FEC regulations requiring "pre-established objective criteria" in determining which presidential candidates are eligible to participate.

The complaint was filed by the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, and names as respondents debate sponsors Dow Jones & Co., Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC, CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education Leadership Institute.

"It is the responsibility of the FEC to ensure that (the Democratic Party) is not permitted to circumvent statutes and regulations that were enacted to ensure fairness to all candidates and parties," the complaint states.