Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- In recent national television appearances, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist backed away from unequivocal support of President Bush in what Republican insiders viewed as preparation for a 2008 presidential run.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" Jan. 29, Frist said, "I would have probably put more troops in [Iraq] if the decision had been up to me." He said the White House is not cooperating with Hurricane Katrina investigations by Congress. As for the Bush budget, he said: "We are spending too much in Washington, D.C." He suggested his and the White House's position in the Terri Schiavo case was wrong. On NBC's "Today" program the next day, when asked about the administration's National Guard policy, Frist replied: "I am opposed to cutting the Guard myself."

 Frist as majority leader has vigorously supported the president's programs. Frist would not be in the post if Bush had not withdrawn support from Sen. Trent Lott as majority leader after the 2002 elections.


 Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's appearance, for a $250,000 honorarium, at a Lehman Brothers secret dinner in Manhattan last Tuesday created dismay among his former colleagues at the Fed.

 Published reports indicated that Greenspan alerted Lehman partners and clients that the markets are underestimating future Fed interest rate increases. Such hints would violate the central bank's rules. Fed sources also say Greenspan broke from past practice by chairing the last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee after his departure date had been announced.

 Greenspan's alleged comments were leaked to the news media by a Lehman Brothers official who was not invited to dinner.


 Key supporters of Sen. John McCain's prospective bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination were delighted by his outburst against Sen. Barack Obama, the rising Democratic superstar.

 McCain accused Obama of "self-interested partisan posturing" in the campaign to control lobbyists. McCain strategists rejoiced that this overrides complaints in Republican circles that he has been too chummy with Democrats.

 The downside of McCain's outburst, say his supporters, is that it strengthens the perception that he may be too hot-tempered to serve as president.


 Two prominent Republican lobbyists, Craig Fuller and H.P. Goldfield, hosted a fund-raising dinner Thursday evening at Goldfield's Washington home for Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, seeking re-election in Connecticut this year.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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