WASHINGTON -- Dissatisfaction by Republican senators over their
briefing Wednesday by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was intensified by
the contrast with President Bush's performance a few hours earlier.
Bush reassured invited Republicans, including critics of plans
to invade Iraq led by Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. A former Senate Foreign
Relations Committee chairman and influential GOP spokesman on international
affairs, Lugar was impressed by Bush's even-handed performance and promise
that Congress will be consulted. Several of Lugar's colleagues were
described as being in a state of euphoria.
Rumsfeld's performance disappointed and angered Republicans from
both the House and Senate when he held back on information about Iraq. Vice
President Dick Cheney was much more forthcoming Thursday when, with CIA
Director George Tenet, he delivered a top-secret briefing to bipartisan
HOUSE GOP SAYS NO
Influential House Republicans have said "no" to President Bush's
plans for a tax bill intended to build investor confidence, contending that
such a bill would not pass and would serve no political purpose.
Rep. Bill Thomas, the powerful chairman of the tax-writing House
Ways and Means Committee, has pushed through the House all of Bush's tax
proposals over the past two years. But he has signaled no interest in trying
to pass tax preferences on dividends and capital gains and losses in the few
weeks remaining before the mid-term election.
A new Bush tax bill surely would die in the
Democratic-controlled Senate, but the president wanted to send a friendly
signal to worried investors. The contents of the measure have been widely
leaked but not officially released.
WILL SIMON PAY?
California Republican political strategists are telling Bill
Simon that if he really wants to make a race of it against Democratic Gov.
Gray Davis this year, he had better unpeel at least $8 million to $9 million
from the family fortune to revive his flagging campaign.
Despite a series of adverse events that have seemed to destroy
the campaign of billionaire businessman Simon, Thursday's Field Poll showed
Davis ahead by only 38 percent to 31 percent. The survey indicated
Californians are overwhelmingly negative against both candidates, with 52
percent unfavorable toward Davis and 50 percent unfavorable toward Simon.
A footnote: Apart from his family bankroll, Simon's biggest
asset in the opinion of GOP strategists may be his endorsement from Rudolph
Giuliani. Simon backers would like to see the former New York City mayor
campaigning in California.
WHITHER A. CUOMO?
Supporters of Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York, left high
and dry after he pulled out of the race a week before Tuesday's Democratic
primary, vow never to back the former Democratic governor's son for anything
in the future.
These critics contend that Cuomo, Housing secretary in the
Clinton administration, should have gone through with a losing primary
effort. While his withdrawal was intended to preserve the 44-year-old
Cuomo's political future, it may have just the opposite effect.
A footnote: New York political insiders contend that if
multi-millionaire businessman Thomas Golisano's self-financed campaign
defeats Republican Gov. George Pataki in the Independence Party primary
election, Democratic State Controller Carl McCall may have a chance in a
three-way race for governor.
DRILLING FOR OIL
With the Bush administration having failed to get congressional
approval to produce oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR),
Interior Secretary Gale Norton is talking about trying to drill on other
By November, Norton plans to report on how much oil and natural
gas has been locked up by federal regulations. Preliminary studies show the
government is sitting on nearly 770 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,
beneath federal lands and offshore beneath ocean waters. That would be
enough natural gas to supply the country for 30 years.
Once the Interior Department survey is completed, Norton may
seek permission for drilling. She would encounter the same environmentalist
pressure that sank ANWR.