Inside Report

Posted: Jun 30, 2001 12:00 AM
DON'T EAT AND RUN WASHINGTON -- Republicans who paid $2,500 per plate to attend the Congressional Dinner at the Washington Convention Center Wednesday night were miffed because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did not eat but did run. That followed a pattern set by the new president and vice president. At nearly all luncheons and dinners, they speak before the meal is served and then leave without eating. Lobbyists and others who paid top dollar for Wednesday's dinner grumbled that if they must sit through the whole proceeding, Bush and Cheney should, too. The Bush-Cheney example of don't eat-do run is being followed by Bush Cabinet members, especially Attorney General John Ashcroft. JUDGES AND IDEOLOGY Sen. Charles Schumer of New York irritated fellow Democrats and encouraged Republicans last Tuesday when, at the first meeting of his Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the federal courts, he announced that the Senate Democratic majority "would openly examine ideology" of President Bush's judicial nominees. Schumer accurately reflected his party's plans, but leading Democrats complained he was too blatant. The more subtle official line set by Majority Leader Thomas Daschle and Majority Whip Harry Reid: no "litmus tests" for judges but no confirmation of nominees who are "extremists." White House sources rejoiced, however, that Schumer had taken off the gloves. He enabled them to complain that Democrats are changing the accepted confirmation criteria for judges. The president's aides suspect Schumer will initially target three federal appellate court nominees: California State Judge Carolyn Kuhl, former Ohio State Solicitor Jeffrey Sutton and Washington D.C. lawyer Miguel Estrada. TEAMSTERS VS. DEMOCRATS Shaky relations between the Teamsters and the Democratic Party worsened when the giant union dispatched a June 22 "alert" to members titled: "House Democrats Fail in Attempt to Kill Job Creation Program." The e-mail accused House Appropriations Committee Democrats of trying "to sneak an amendment that would have killed" President Bush's proposed drilling in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Teamsters took credit ("with the help of other unions") in defeating the amendment on a largely party-line vote of 38 to 21. The union urged members to call and thank three Democrats who crossed party lines "to shun the environmental lobby" and support ANWR: Reps. Allen Boyd of Florida, Bud Cramer of Alabama and Chet Edwards of Texas. All Republicans on the committee opposed the amendment, and the Teamsters asked for calls and letters boosting five GOP members "under heavy pressure from the environmentalists": Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Dan Miller of Florida, David Hobson of Ohio, John Sununu of New Hampshire and John Sweeney of New York. BRET AND CHRISTIE While his campaign for governor of New Jersey is now a political priority of the Bush White House, Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler remains on poor terms with Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Whitman. Polls correctly predicted an easy victory by conservative Schundler over moderate former Rep. Bob Franks, and Republican National Chairman Jim Gilmore joined Schundler in East Brunswick, N.J., Tuesday night for the celebration. Whitman, who ended seven years as New Jersey governor to enter the Bush administration, turned up in Princeton that night at Franks' side. Schundler does not intend to campaign as a Whitman-style liberal, but will try to appeal to blue-collar voters as a Ronald Reagan conservative. FIGHTING A GOP LIBERAL Conservative activists in Washington are lobbying President Bush against liberal Republican State Sen. Roy Goodman of New York to head the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The American Conservative Union has labeled Goodman a "crusading liberal Republican." Now serving his 17th term in the Legislature representing an East Side Manhattan district, he has been a New York party stalwart since the 1960s. Goodman, 71, was the GOP's candidate for mayor of New York in 1977 and is a longtime ally of the Bush family, campaigning for George W. Bush against John McCain in 2000. A leading candidate for the NEA post, Goodman was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Commission of Fine Arts.