WASHINGTON -- Hans Blix, the 74-year-old Swedish lawyer who is
the chief United Nations weapons inspector, is credited inside the Bush
administration with cracking an international deadlock over how to deal with
President Bush had grown frustrated with getting an agreement
for the use of force against Iraq and hinted the U.S. would take military
action on its own. Blix turned the tide when he and Mohamed el Baradei, an
Egyptian arms inspector, attended a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security
Council Tuesday. They argued that inspections should be backed with a threat
of force against Saddam Hussein.
When Blix met with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in
Washington Wednesday, he was greeted privately by U.S. officials as a
Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, who canceled his own re-election
campaigning in New Mexico because of Sen. Paul Wellstone's death, was
appalled that Tuesday night's memorial service in Minneapolis turned into a
Democratic political rally.
Domenici had worked closely with Wellstone on mental health
issues and was crushed by the news of the Oct. 25 plane crash. He hurried to
Washington and then went to Minneapolis for the Wellstone service. Friends
described him as disappointed by the tone there, especially when Senate
Republican Leader Trent Lott was booed.
A footnote: Republicans were outraged that Vice President Dick
Cheney's offer to attend the memorial service was rebuffed. However, the
official White House response was a quiet recognition of the Wellstone
SAVING RUSSIAN LIVES?
While U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow in Moscow criticized
Russian handling of the theater hostage affair, Defense Department and CIA
officials privately praised it.
The U.S. security experts commend their Russian counterparts for
saving lives by sending gas into the theater, a method that would not even
have been considered in Washington. The Americans would have stormed the
theater doors, probably prompting the Chechen terrorists to set off their
bombs and kill many more hostages than the 115 who actually perished.
Vershbow's criticism of the Russian government for still keeping
secret the nature of the gas was interpreted as an effort by the Bush
administration to keep its distance from Russian President Vladimir Putin on
The public intervention by Democratic National Chairman Terry
McAuliffe in the Florida governor's race was quickly followed by Republican
Gov. Jeb Bush's spurt that put him eight to 10 points ahead of Democratic
candidate Bill McBride in current polls.
McAuliffe sent political operatives and more money to Florida in
an effort to defeat George W. Bush's brother, but leaders of both parties
said the move backfired. McBride, a lawyer making his first bid for public
office, also wilted under Bush's challenge to say how he would raise the
money for the higher school funding that he has promised.
A footnote: In the race for governor of Massachusetts,
Republican businessman Mitt Romney has moved back ahead of Democratic State
Treasurer Shannon O'Brien. All sides agree that Romney was the clear winner
in Tuesday night's final televised debate.
S.D. BUCK RAKING
The Senate campaigns in South Dakota of Democratic Sen. Tim
Johnson and Republican Rep. John Thune, which have spent more per capita
than any other political race this year, were still trying to raise more
money at the eleventh hour.
Johnson bombarded Washington lobbyists with invitations to a
$1,000-a-ticket luncheon last Tuesday at the offices of Van Scoyoc
Associates, a Washington lobbying firm. Former Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright was the speaker.
The same lobbyists were solicited by Thune to attend a reception
($1,000 per person, $2,000 per couple) the previous Friday at the Los
Angeles mansion of Bradford Freeman, a major GOP contributor and friend of
President Bush. Presidential counselor Karl Rove was the speaker.