Blogging the Senate
Senate Republicans have hired bloggerJonHenkeforthepositionof “new-media director.” Mr. Henke says he believes he is the first congressional employee hired specifically to deal with the blogosphere.
“It’s either neat, or it’s scary,” Mr. Henke told Robert Stacy McCain of The Washington Times on Jan. 1.
Mr. Henke, a Midlothian, Va., resident who blogs at www.qando.net, made headlines in August when he was hired to run the blog operation for Sen. George Allen’s re-election campaign,afterleft-leaningbloggers helped publicize the Virginia Republican’s“macaca”remarkabouta volunteer for his Democratic rival, James H. Webb Jr.
Working in the office of incoming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, Mr. Henke’s new job “will be to monitor the blogosphere to find out what’s going on, [. . .] to correct anything that’s incorrect that gets out there, andtomakesurethattheRepublican message is represented,” Mr. Henke tells The Times. “Sort of like the press secretary to the blogosphere, for lack of a better term.”
“The2006midtermelectionsconfirmedonceagainatruismofAmericanpolitics:AmericanJewsremain overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party,” Gabriel Schoenfeld writes in the January issue of Commentary.
“According to exit polling, the tilt this year was, if anything, even more pronounced than it has been in the past.Some88percentofJewishvotes wenttoDemocraticcandidates,while a mere 12 percent went to the GOP,” Mr. Schoenfeld said.
ButMr.Schoenfeldnotesa“paradoxical and disturbing fact [. . .] that even as Jewish voters remain unwaveringly loyal to the Democrats [. . .] the Democratic Party itself is becomingdemonstrablylesshospitable to Jewish interests. Indeed, on at leastonematterofcentralconcern— the safety and security of the state of Israel—thepartyandtheAmerican Jewish community may be heading toward a slow-motion collision.”
“Sen.HillaryRodhamClintonhas spentmuchofthelastmonthbehind closeddoors,puttingthefinaltouches on a presidential campaign-in-waiting,”theLosAngelesTimes’Stephen Braun wrote on Dec. 31.
“Awaiting only her go-ahead — withadecisionexpected[thismonth] —themachinethatHillarybuilthas the heft and advance billing of an election-year juggernaut.
“BillClintonranalooseandleaky ship during his two White House terms.[...]Bycontrast,‘Hillaryland’ is a disciplined structure of her own design, a tight-knit realm populated by discreet, fiercely devoted aides who have been with the former first ladysinceherEastWingdays,along with newer additions who serve on her Senate staff. Some wonder if her circle is too buffered.
“ ‘The danger she faces,’ one longtime Clinton intimate said, ‘is the problemofinsularity.Yousawthatat timesintheClintonWhiteHouse.She tends to filter a lot through her most trusted people. That’s an advantage when things are going well. But you can get closed off when things are falling apart.’
“Her machine would nonetheless be tested early. Recent polls in New Hampshire and Iowa show Clinton wouldhavestiffcompetitionfromtwo potential Democratic rivals, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former vice presidentialcandidateJohnEdwards.
“ ‘The challenge she’ll have in the primaries is building something that’s lean and supple, an operation that can turn on a dime,’ ” said Democratic pollster Geoffrey D. Garin.
Rest of the story
The national news media, especiallymostoftheTVnetworks,hailed areporttwoweeksagobyTheWashingtonPost’sBobWoodwardthatformer President Gerald R. Ford, in a 2004 interview, said he probably wouldnothavechosentoinvadeIraq. However, the media generally ig- nored a column by Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News, in which Mr.DeFrankquotedtheformerpresidentasbeingastaunchsupporterof the war.
Mr. DeFrank appeared Jan. 31 on CBS’“FacetheNation,”andhostBob SchiefferaskedhimaboutMr.Ford’s attitudetowardthewar:“Iwanttoask you, because Bob Woodward really surprised a lot of people last week when he said Mr. Ford had told him back in 2004 that he was very opposed to the war in Iraq. He thought it was not justified, according to Bob Woodward, and he had some tough things, also, to sayabout former SecretaryofDefenseDonRumsfeldand Vice President Cheney, who both worked for President Ford as young men. Were you surprised at that? And did he talk to you about that?”
Mr.DeFrankreplied:“Well,Iwas very surprised about it, Bob, be- cause I had four interviews with Gerald Ford after the war in Iraq began: ’03, ’04, ’05, and then May of ’06, as you mentioned. And in every one of those interviews, he told me he supported the war in Iraq. Now, the one, the one instance where my reporting and Bob Woodward’s reporting intersects is the question of weapons of mass destruction. President Ford told me in May that he thoughtitwasabigmistakeforPresident Bush to have pegged the invasion of Iraq to the WMD issue. He thought that was a serious mistake. But he never said that he was opposed to the war. Quite the contrary, in four different interviews.”
Mr.Schiefferasked:“Didhe,what did he say about Vice President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld?”
Mr. DeFrank said: “Well, he was verydefensiveaboutthem,curiously or not. Now, in previous interviews, he,everyonceinawhile,wouldshake hisheadonacoupleofthings.Buthe wasverysupportive,verydefensive. As a matter of fact, I asked him whetherthefamousop-edpiecethat he wrote about Rumsfeld after the generals had said Rumsfeld should resign,Iaskedhimwhetheranybody hadaskedhimtowritethatarticledefending Rumsfeld. And I thought he was going to get out of his chair and grab me by the throat. He said, ‘NobodyhastotellmetodefendRummy.’ So he was very, very supportive of bothofthem.AndI’msuch,oneofthe reasonswhyIwassurprisedatwhat Bob got from him.”
FormerNewYorkmayorand2008 presidentialhopefulRudolphW.Giulianileftdetailedplansofhisproposed bid for the White House in a hotel room, according to the New York Daily News.
The140pagesofprintedandhandwritten text reveal how the Republican front-runner intends to mount hiscampaign,completewithdetailed planstobuilda$100millionwarchest this year, the tabloid reported.
TheDailyNewssaiditwashanded the dossier, complete with details of fundraising, budgets and schedules, byasupporterofoneofMr.Giuliani’s rivals.Itsaidthefilewasleftinahotel roominanundisclosedlocationinthe run-up to November’s congressional elections.
Onepageinthebattleplanreveals aides’ concerns that “insurmountable” factors could scuttle Mr. Giuliani’s run, notably issues surrounding his private business interests, disgracedformeraidesandoneofhis ex-wives.
FBIagentsdocumentedmorethan two dozen incidents of possible mistreatment at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including one detainee whose head was wrapped in duct tape for chanting verses from the Koran.
Documents released Jan. 2 by the FBIofferednewdetailsabouttheinterrogation practices used by military officials and contractors when questioning enemy combatants.
Some military officials and contractors told FBI agents that the interrogation techniques had been approved by the Defense Department, includingdirectlybyformerDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
The documents were released in responsetoapublicrecordsrequest by the American Civil Liberties Union,whichissuingMr.Rumsfeld and others on behalf of former military detainees who say they were abused. Many of the incidents in the FBI documents have already been reported and are summarized in the ACLU’s lawsuit. Pentagon spokesmanLt.Cmdr.JoeCarpenter said the issues raised in the report are not new.
The treatment of detainees has longbeenavolatilesubject,especially betweentheBushadministrationand the Democratic lawmakers.
One incoming chairman served noticeJan.2thattheissueisatoppriority. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee notified Attorney GeneralAlbertoR.Gonzalesthathis panel’s first oversight hearing of the new Congress would focus on two documents Mr. Leahy is seeking about the interrogation methods of another agency, the CIA.
The Justice Department has refused to hand over the documents, sayingtheircontentsare“extremely sensitive” and could help terrorists plot more attacks.
More than two years after announcingthathewasahomosexual and would resign, former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey returned to the Statehouse in Trenton for the unveiling of his official portrait Jan. 2 in an event devoid of the usual fanfare.
It was Mr. McGreevey’s first visit to the Capitol since he stepped down. He said the Jan. 2 unveiling helped close a chapter of his life, the Associated Press reports. “It represents a final obligation,” said Mr. McGreevey, 49.
Unveilingsofgovernors’portraits are usually well-attended affairs opentothepublic.Butthiswasaprivate event. No formal invitations were issued, Gov. Jon Corzine’s office did not announce it in advance, and no refreshments were served.
Mr. McGreevey, who said he did not want to publicize the event, was joined for the unveiling by his male partner, his parents and Mr. Corzine. Mr. McGreevey is separated from his wife and lives with his partner.
Mr. McGreevey announced his resignation on national television in August 2004, declaring that he was “a gay American.” He said he had had a homosexual affair with a staffer, later identified as Golan Cipel, Mr. McGreevey’s homeland security adviser. Mr. Cipel has denied an affair took place and claims thegovernorsexuallyharassedhim.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani left plans of his proposed 2008 White House bid in a hotel room. The file included factors that could endanger the candidacy.