Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bolton News for Saturday

As the journalist I.F. Stone has taught us, sometimes there are great stories not necessarily buried in archives of classified government files, but right there already in the public record. The instance cited below is an even more extreme example. The comments that I am going to report on, and comment about, below, were made by Senator Voinovich on Friday in opposing John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

If one was watching C-Span on Friday, they might have heard these comments. But the New York Times, the Washington Post, and all three television networks did not report a word of these particular assertions by the Senator.

There was no political agenda or sloppy reporting in the omission. Rather, it was most likely a result of reporters not only racing to meet not only a daily deadline, but also now being required to finish stories much earlier in their day to be posted on their newspaper's website, or to broadcast several times a day. In the process, they missed a gem.

I am going to forego any comment whatsoever ahead of time (such un-blogger like behavior!) and simply allow you to decide for yourselves (our slogan here is "I blog, you decide.") whether Senator Voinovich's comments are of some significance. Here is what he said:

"When discussing [various] concerns with Secretary Rice-- John Bolton's propensity to get off message, his lack of interpersonal skills, his tendency to abuse others who disagree with him-- I was informed by the secretary of state that she understood all these things and in spite of them still feels that John Bolton is the best choice and that she would be in frequent communication with him and he would be closely supervised. My private thought at the time, and I should have expressed it to her, is: `Why in the world would you want to send somebody up to the U.N. that has to be supervised?'"

Now some thoughts of my own: These were extraordinary comments for a Secretary of State to make about her President's nominee to be Ambassador to the United Nations. A State Department spokesman did not return a call on Friday seeking comment.

If Rice does not dispute the Senator's version of events, expect this to be a central issue in the Senate debate. (That last assertion was not based on discussion with sources, but rather... common sense.) If conversely Rice disputes the Senator's recounting of her conversation with the Senator, expect that to become a major news story. Of course, some news organization more important than this blog has to report the comments first.

I think Rice's comments raise more questions than they answer: For example, what exactly will the supervision entail? Will the United States ambassador to the United Nations receive a regular personnel review, and who will conduct it? Will they install a nannycam in the U.N?

Moreover, Rice's predecessor as Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, have made much of the fact that Bolton attempted to circumvent them at every opportunity. Perhaps she believes that she will succeed where they haven't.

Other Bolton news:

According to this Boston Globe account, Sen. Voinovich told reporters that he is not the only Republican who might vote against the Bolton nomination on the Senate floor: "The fact of the matter is that no one is really excited about him going forward," Voinovich said.

I would like to write more for you, but it is such a beautiful spring day outside.

Random notes: The Washington Examiner published a column I wrote-- an appreciation of sorts, of the late Baron Edward Von Kloberg III-- on May 12. It is quite different than my earlier blog posting on the same subject, in that I had a few extra days to think about what I wanted to say. The Examiner column is not posted online, but the column is going to be reprinted in other newspapers, one of which I hope posts it online, so I can link to it here-- for my several blog readers.

In the meantime, here was my lede:

"Baron Edward Von Kloberg III was a man given to grand entrances and exits. The former public relations man to Saddam Hussein and Mobutu Sese Seko, while recently on vacation in Rome, flung himself in full fury off a parapet of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the site of Tosca's suicide in the Puccini opera. He wanted us to notice him one last time."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Profile in Courage: A Senator votes his conscience on the Bolton nomination.

With the White House all but declaring victory yesterday, and the always wrong Washington punditocracy asserting that the outcome was decided long before the vote, the unthinkable occurred: A United States Senator, at some personal and political price to himself, voted his conscience.

Senator George V. Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, voiced opposition this morning to the nomination of John R. Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. In fairness to the White House, Voinovich declined to prevent the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from forwarding the Bolton nomination to the Senate floor for a vote by the full Senate.

As a result of Voinovich's action, the Senate Foreign Relations committee took the extraordinary step of forwarding Bolton's nomination to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the Republican chairman of the SFRC, brokered a deal with Voinovich by which Voinovich wouldn't prevent a vote by the full Senate in exchange for the committee voting Bolton's nomination out of committee without an endorsement.

Besides displaying political courage, Voinovich engaged in some extraordinary gamesmanship as well-- at least that is the spin by Lugar's staff. According to congressional sources, Voinovich never intended in the first place to prevent a vote by the full Senate; the agreement by Lugar to not favorably recommend Bolton in exchange for Voinovich allowing the vote out of committee was something that Voinovich did not even originally intend to ask for from Lugar. Only when Lugar displayed a weak hand did Voinovich ask that the committee not endorse Bolton's nomination.

Other senior congressional sources, who have first-hand knowledge of the private discussions between Lugar and Voinovich, speculate that Lugar himself has privately been lukewarm to Bolton's nomination all along, despite the public displays of affection, and that Lugar was more than willing not only to grant this "concession" in the first place, but may have even suggested it to Voinovich.

(I have attempted to reach spokesmen for both Senators for comment. I will update this post if I obtain comment from either.)

In his remarks during the committee's debate this morning, Voinovich made it clear that he did not want to "impose my judgment" on the full Senate by preventing a vote. He also stated "we owe it to the president to give Bolton an up-or-down vote."

Among other things, Voinovich said that Bolton's conduct as a senior State Department official would have lead him to be "fired if he worked for a private corporation." He also said that Bolton was the "poster child for what someone in the diplomatic corps shouldn't be."

Beyond those sound bites, here is some more of the substance of what Voinovich had to say this morning:

"It was not long ago when American's love of freedom was a force of inspiration to the world and America was admired for its democracy, generosity, and its willingness to help others in need of protection. Today the United States is criticized for what the world calls arrogance, unilateralism and for failing to listen and to seek the support of its friends and allies. There has been a drastic change in the attitude of our friends and allies in such organizations as the United Nations and NATO and in the countries of leaders that we need to rely upon for help...

"If we cannot win over the hearts and minds of the world community and work together... our goals will be more difficult to achieve. Additionally, we will be unable to reduce the burden on our own resources. The most important of those resources are the human resources, the lives of the men and women of our armed forces, who are leaving their families every day to serve their country overseas."

These I believe were the most important words spoken by Voinovich today:

"What message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, or not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves? These are the very characteristics that we're trying to dispel in the world community."

Even Lugar, the Republican chairman of the SFRC, was not entirely glowing this morning in his remarks in recommending Bolton's confirmation: "Secretary Bolton's actions were not always exemplary," Lugar said, "On several occasions, he made incorrect assumptions about the behavior and motivations of subordinates. At other times, he failed to use proper managerial channels or unnecessarily personalized internal disputes.... But there is no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct."

So that's all that it now takes to be confirmed as U.N. ambassador? That you have not broken any laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct? By that standard, I am just as much qualified for the post.. or my cab driver for that matter... or most anyone.

(Update: My father has pointed that it is long overdue that I get regular work-- instead of writing and blogging-- and by Sen. Lugar's standards I do qualify for the U.N. position. Memo to the White House: If things with Bolton don't work out...)

(So that I do not take Sen. Lugar's words out of context, he also said: "I have no doubts that Secretary Bolton is extremely well qualified.")

Even staunch Republicans should applaud Senator Voinovich for acting on the courage of his convictions-- even if they think they are wrongheaded. The White House would be well served to do the same. There does not seem to have been any political upside or personal gain by Voinovich in taking the stand that he did today. This was about one Senator's personal convictions.

Both Republican Senators Lincoln Chaffee, of Rhode Island, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, had much less to lose than Voinovich by breaking with their party. (see my post from yesterday below.) By remaining silent, they made what Voinovich did this morning all the more difficult.

Lugar, it appeared, ever so subtly came more to Voinovich's aid this morning than either Chaffee or Hagel. For his part, Chaffee had attempted to have it both ways by expressing qualms about Bolton, but voting in favor of his nomination by saying a President has the right to have his nominee considered. Voinovich adroitly lead the way for Chaffee to oppose Bolton but still uphold the constitutional perogatives of the President. But Chaffee did not follow, leaving Sen. Voinovich to so unfortunately-- but bravely-- hang out there all by himself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More Bolton news: Profiles in Courage, or rather the lack thereof. (updated since this morning, see bottom.)
Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Republican of Rhode Island, today says that he will vote in favor of the nomination of John R. Bolton to be the new ambassador to the United Nations. As both the most moderate and independent of Republican Senators on the SFRC, he was long considered the most likely member of the committee to vote against Bolton's nomination.

"I won't deny a lot of information certainly brings great pause, but I fight the administration on so many issues; this is one of those that I've been with them on-- to appoint their team," Chaffee said, in making his decision.

Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska was considered the second most likely to vote against Bolton, but he has indicated in recent days that he too would vote for Bolton.

It now appears all but certain that Bolton's nomination will be voted favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he will be confirmed by the Senate.

The only Republican who has not yet to say how he would vote is Senator George Voinovich, of Ohio. In recent days, it has been this Senator whom the White House was the most worried. One reason was that his decision to postpone the original vote on Bolton's nomination on April 19 so that the SFRC could gather more information was done without his informing the White House ahead of time, at a time that they believed they already had his support.

Of all the Senators considering voting against Bolton, Voinovich, however, would have the most to lose. Chaffee is a Republican from the bluest of states, Rhode Island, and in many ways a vote against Bolton would have assisted in his re-election bid by making him more attractive to Democrats and Independent voters. Hagel is so popular and wins by such lopsided margins in his native state of Nebraska that he had less to lose politically by an anti-Bolton vote than virtually any other Republican Senator. (The last time Hagel ran for re-election, in 20002, he received 83% of the vote. That was the largest margin of victory ever by a Nebraska Senator.)

Now with Chaffee and Hagel both apparently going to vote for Bolton, it would obviously be that much more difficult for Voinovich to be the sole Republican to vote against the nomination. A vote against Bolton by either Chaffee or Hagel, or both of them, would have provided Voinovich the opportunity to make a decision more free of politics.

Update, May 11, 5: 16 P.M.: Told that White House spokesman Scott McClellan had said the Bush administration was "in close contact with members" of the SFRC, and as a result had concluded "that John Bolton will be voted out of committee and that he will be confirmed on the floor of the Senate," Senator Voinovich has made it known that he has become more than a tad bit testy that his vote was being taken for granted.

He told home state reporters this afternoon: "I don't know how anybody knows what's going on in this guy's head." Voinovich appeared to point in the direction of his own head as he made the comments. But it was not entirely clear if he was referring to himself or McClellan.

In private discussions with other Senators, Voinovich has complained about what he has considered to be heavy handed lobbying by supporters of Bolton and President Bush. Whether that, combined with the voluminous evidence assembled against Bolton, would lead him to not only break with his own party, but also with all of his fellow Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and vote against Bolton's nomination, remains to be seen. It is unlikely he would do so, no matter how irritated he has become, and how incriminating he believes the evidence against Bolton has become.

But the Senator was clearly showing signs today that he has felt besieged by the White House. And those in the White House who are already declaring victory may very well be doing so prematurely.

In the meantime, Democrats hold out hope, however slim, that Voinovich is the Republican Senator who just might vote against Bolton. Norm Kurz, a spokesman for Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told journalist extraordinaire Laura Rosen: "Voinovich is the guy who might just has his conscience pricked again. I wouldn't bet on it happening, but I wouldn't say the game is over."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Exclusive: Bolton was recipient of NSA intercepts of IAEA chief.

John R. Bolton, President Bush's designate to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was one of more than a half dozen senior Bush administration officials who received highly classified NSA intercepts of private phone conversations of Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to government officials familiar with the matter. The IAEA is the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency.

That the NSA was intercepting the phone calls of IAEA officers, particularly ElBaradei, is in and of itself hardly big news. IAEA officials have known about the eavesdropping for more than a decade, and have made it a point not to conduct sensitive diplomacy over the telephone. An IAEA spokesman told reporters in Dec. of last year, for example: "We've always assumed that this kind of thing goes on. We wish it were otherwise, but we know the reality."

But Bolton differed from other consumers of the intelligence, according to two senior government officials familiar with the matter, in that when the intercepts proved all but useless to his cause to oust ElBaradei from his IAEA post, he privately encouraged more aggressive intelligence gathering operations against the IAEA, the United Nations, and other international organizations.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, of Kansas, and the committee's ranking Democrat, John D. Rockefeller IV, of West Virginia, are expected to be briefed today by senior Bush administration officials on specific NSA intercepts Bolton requested to read while he served as a senior State Department official. An unconfirmed report by the Associated Press said yesterday that Deputy National Intelligence Director Gen. Michael Hayden, who is a former head of the NSA, would conduct the briefing.

In an interview with the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday, Lawrence S. Wilkerson, a chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that Bolton "overstepped his bounds" through "his moves and gyrations" in attempting to prevent the reappointment of ElBaradei as head of the IAEA.

"Now, what do I mean by that?" Mr. Wilkerson said. "I mean, going out of his way to bad-mouth him, to make sure that everybody knew that the maximum power of the United States would be brought to bear against them if he were brought back in." (For more information on Wilkerson's interview with the SFRC staff, one should read this New York Times story.)

While it is hardly unusual for senior State Department officials to task intelligence agencies with specific requests for information, one official told me that the requests of Bolton and similar minded officials "stuck out like a sore thumb" because of Bolton's activist role in attempting to oust ElBaradei. Moreover, the request appeared to target ElBaradei in particular, while ordinarily intelligence information is sought concerning policy and issues. One official told me: "You don't request on individuals."

Bolton's effort to oust ElBaradei was also a contentious issue within the State Department. The efforts to oust ElBarbadei were opposed by, among others, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, then- deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, and the then-assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, John Wolf.

Update 7:46 A.M, May 10: In this morning's Los Angeles Times, reporter Mary Curtius, in an exemplary example of political reporting, explains why it is increasingly more likely than not that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will favorably vote out Bolton's nomination on Thursday.

Here are some excerpts:

"For all three Republican senators who have expressed reservations about John R. Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the committee vote set for Thursday is about much more than whether he is the best man for the job...

"With the administration putting on a full-court press, Democrats say they would be surprised if [Sens.] Voincovich, Hagel, or Chaffee were to break ranks and hand Bush an embarrassing political setback.

"In the end, both sides say, the questions raised about Bolton's personality and management style may prove less important to the wavering senators than issues of... political pragmatism.

"A vote against Bolton, said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, `poses the most danger for Hagel,' who is widely believed to be laying groundwork for a 2008 presidential race.

"Bolton... has publicly criticized the United Nations-- one reason he has has received strong support from party's conservative base, Fabrizio said...

"The three senators must also take into account that Bolton's nomination `is perceived by the party base as an ideological fight' and by the Senate Republican majority as a challenge from Democrats to its control of the chamber, said David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, a lobbying group.

"For Hagel's hopes of support from party conservatives in a possible presidential bid, Keene said, `it would not be particularly beneficial to be seen as having knifed Bolton in the back.'"

A few comments and observations of my own:

First, what has gone unreported in this story and in others about Republican efforts to confirm Bolton, is that the White House has very effectively lobbied potentially wavering Republican Senators on the SFRC by arguing that a vote against Bolton would also endanger the Bush administration's agenda on social security, judicial nominations, and crucial foreign policy issues. One congressional staffer sums up this very effective White House lobbying stratagem this way: "A vote for or against Bolton is not about Bolton."

Second, is it really that unbelievable that Lincoln Chaffee or John Hagel would vote their conscience, and actually vote against Bolton? Or that they would put the national interest ahead of the their own political interests or that of their party?

Finally, I still believe it is too early for anyone to be sure which way the vote is going to come down. Curtius credibly makes the case as to why Bolton be voted out, but although it is less likely today than in the past that a Senator will vote his or her conscience, it is not entirely unheard of for him or her to do so. At least we can still hold out hope that that still is the case.

Hagel, for one, has indicated that he will now probably vote for Bolton. Hagel wants to run for President, and the White House and conservative activists have assiduously tied a vote against Bolton as a poke in the eye to the Republican base as the vote nears.

Increasingly, the Republican Senator to watch is George Voinovich of Ohio, who is now most likely to be spoiler. Voinovich would alienate both the base of the Republican party and the White House, obviously, by voting against Bolton. Thus a vote against Bolton would come with a high cost. The upside would be that he would almost instantaneously become a national figure, be heralded for voting for conscience, and pick up both Democratic and swing votes in his next re-election bid.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bolton News Over the Weekend

The Bush administration is continuing to refuse to provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with intercepts from the National Security Agency related to the confirmation of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. In his current position as Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control, Bolton had requested to read NSA intercepts in which U.S. government officials and other American citizens were overheard. Besides the very obvious civil liberties issues, there have been allegations, as I have previously reported, that Bolton was requesting access to such NSA intercepts to find damaging information to use against policy rivals in the State Department and elsewhere in the bureaucracy.

This morning's Washington Note contains an extraordinarily thorough account about this latest important development. Steve Clemons has a strong point of view in opposing Bolton, but he wears his bias on his sleeve-- or rather in his blog-- and more importantly, I have yet to find anything he has reported on Bolton or anything else for that matter that has not later proved to be accurate.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Bolton's cause was hardly advanced when Larry Wilkerson, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, questioned Bolton's fitness to serve during formal questioning by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. Wilkerson said that he believed that Bolton was "an extremely poor leader" and "not an effective diplomat."

Wilkerson insisted that he was speaking for himself nor acting as a proxy for Powell, his former boss. Powell himself has not publicly opposed Bolton's nomination, telling friends that he believes it would be undignified for a former Secretary of State to do so, and also because he does not want to repudiate President Bush in such a public fashion. Instead, Powell has privately expressed his reservations to two Republican Senators on the SFRC, promptly had details of those "private" conversations leaked to the press, and encouraged Wilkerson and other State Department officials to speak their mind in public.

If Powell wants to get the word out more prominently that he opposes the Bolton nomination, and do so without suffering the indignity making a formal public statement, I recommend that he proceed in a manner that has proved to be most effective for him in the past: channel his innermost thoughts through Bob Woodward. Powell knows Woodward to be a most reliable reporter to write the story the way he would want it to be written; the story would be played more prominently on the Post's front page than it ordinarily would because of Woodward's byline; and the role of Woodward and the Post would signal to just the right people that the Washington establishment opposes the Bolton nomination.

We have all disapprovingly witnessed the above described process employed in the past by all the various parties to their mutual benefit, at the expense of the public good. While I ordinarily would decry such practices, in this particular instance, the ends might just for once justify the means. To expedite the process, I can even recommend to Woodward and Powell a suitable parking garage.

Also on Friday the SFRC also released a transcript of a formal staff interview of the CIA's former deputy director, John E. McLaughlin, who did little to bolster the hopes of supporters of Bolton's nomination.

(SFRC is the acronym for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Any respectable blogger such as Mickey Kaus utilizes insider acronyms-- such as SFRC, Potus, or Washpo-- to display their own insider knowledge and status, and thus make their readers feel similarly in the know. Therefore, following Mickey's lead, I have adopted the practice as well! On the other hand, I also want to actually draw in readers to my blog not ordinarily interested in politics, instead of alienating them. What to do?! What to do?!... I will have it both ways!)

McLaughlin sharply criticized an attempt by Bolton to oust a CIA analyst from his position after Bolton and the analyst clashed over a speech alleging that Cuba was pursuing a program to produce biological weapons. The analyst, Fulton Armstrong, the CIA's national intelligence officer for Latin America, had previously told the committee that he believed Bolton attempted to purposely mislead the public in furtherance of Bolton's personal and political objectives.

Recalling the effort to have Armstrong removed from his position, McLaughlin reportedly told the committee: "It's perfectly right for a policy maker to express disagreement with an N.I.O. or an analyst, and it's perfectly all right for them to challenge such an individual vigorously, challenge their work vigorously. But I think it's different to then request [the officer] be transferred. And-- unless their is malfeasance involved here, and in this case, I had a high regard for the individual's work-- therefore, I had a strong negative reaction to the suggestion about moving them." For those desiring more details, I recommend that they read this particular New York Times story.

Update, Sunday Night, 10:37 P.M., May 8

Sen. Lugar, the chairman of the SFRC, said on CBS' "Meet the Press" this morning that he expects that Bolton' s nomination will be voted upon favorably by his committee, and that the vote will most likely be along a straight party line.

Making that outcome appear even more likely, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said on ABC's "This Week" that although he still has yet to make a final decision as to how he might vote on the Bolton nomination, "I know nothing as of this moment that would stop him from being voted out of committee."

Those comments clearly bode well for Bolton's chances to be voted out of the SFRC, and confirmed by the full Senate. Aside from Sen. Lincoln Chafee, of Rhode Island, Hagel was the most likely Republican on the SFRC to vote against Bolton. Moreover, if Hagel were to vote against Bolton, it was thought to be more likely that Chafee would vote the same way.

The outcome of the vote, however, is still very much in doubt. And at this blog we do not pretend to be soothsayers, nor aspire to be one of the McLaughlin Group or Capital Gang.

(If I were to ever appear on one of those programs, I grant my readers permission ahead of time, and even encourage them, to bitch-slap some sense into me. For any of my readers who are offended by my use of the word "bitch-slap", I apologize, but the marketing/focus group people have encouraged me to use such slang and hipster-speak to appeal to that valuable 18-24 demographic which reads blogs.)

Meanwhile, USA Today weighs in with a political analysis examining how a win or loss by the President on the Bolton nomination would affect the Bush administration's agenda on social security and judicial nominations. Although there was no consensus among those queried by the newspaper, the majority opinion was that a defeat on the Bolton nomination would lead to further setbacks on all fronts for the Bush administration.

Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to President Clinton, told the newspaper: "Any time you show your weariness and vulnerability, it is an opportunity for your opponents."

The article also quotes Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, but does so without disclosing to USA Today's readers that Kristol has a dog in this fight: Bolton was a long time director of the Project for the New American Century, which was at the time, and still is, chaired by Kristol. For his part, Kristol has hardly attempted to hide the relationship: For example, Kristol himself made note of his ties to Bolton in this Weekly Standard editorial in which his magazine endorsed Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

(It should be interesting to see if USA Today corrects or amplifies its article to reflect the relationship between Bolton and Kristol. I will update this post when I find out.)

To his credit, Kristol does not pull any punches for the home team, saying: "If Bush loses a man he wants and a man he knows, it will be a blow, and it will weaken him."

On a personal note, it is also good to see the newspaper query experts beyond the usual suspects. (I don't really care or want to know what Norman Ornstein thinks of the Bolton nomination, no disrespect to him.) I was pleasantly surprised to see that among those interviewed for the story was Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at Georgetown. Back in the day (while I was in college) I took Wayne's course on the modern presidency, and in and of itself, the class was worth a full year's tuition. I took Wayne's class, of course, a few years ago, a good five to seven years ago... er, maybe a decade ago... er, perhaps twelve to fifteen years ago.... (At this time, the blogger invokes his Fifth Amendment privilege as to how long ago it was that he attended college.)

If by chance there are any Georgetown students who read this blog, take Wayne's class. I am convinced that a Georgetown alumnus named William Jefferson Clinton would have had a smoother first term had he had the opportunity to take Wayne's class. Whether Clinton would have showed up regularly for class, taken good notes, turned his papers in on time, and the such is another matter...

Random notes on other topics: CNBC has canceled Tina Brown's television show. *sadness* What to do?! Where will we get our news?! According to this published report, only 4,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demographic were even tuning in. It is almost impossible to have numbers any lower than that. A certain percentage of a viewership that small would include, one might surmise, people who were watching the program from the previous hour and fell asleep; or absentmindedly left the room or their house, without turning their television off. (Ever since the Washington Post's Richard Leiby praised this blog for its civility, I have attempted to live up to that high standard. I apologize to my readers for perhaps failing in this particular instance. I pledge that it will not happen again all that soon.) I should note that this blog has way more than 4,000 readers, and I'm not really even trying that hard...