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CyberAlert -- 12/15/2000 -- Bush's Short & Lax Work Day

Bush's Short & Lax Work Day; "BEWARE" of "THE HAMMER"; Al Gore Always Asks "What Would Jesus Do?"; Rather Wrong on Statue

1) "A typical Bush work day begins early and ends early with a long break in the middle for exercise," ABC's Dean Reynolds warned as he relayed the complaint from a professor about how Bush "combines ignorance of the policy background in Washington with a distaste for study."

2) "BEWARE" of Tom DeLay, aka "THE HAMMER," warned a wanted poster-like mock up graphic on the CBS Evening News as the broadcast network morning and evening shows targeted DeLay as an impediment to bipartisanship. Today's Matt Lauer warned Bush's "biggest headache may come from within his own party."

3) Bryant Gumbel complained Bush wasn't gracious enough toward Al Gore in his Wednesday night speech.

4) Dan Rather claimed a Central Park statue of Daniel Webster features the inscription: "United we stand, divided we fall." In fact, the statue displays a Webster quote: "Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

5) Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn seriously forwarded the notion that Al Gore is a WWJD man: "What Would Jesus Do, and he said I never make a political decision that I don't ask myself what would Jesus do." That was too much for even liberals, who broke out laughing on MSNBC Wednesday night.


1

Is George W. Bush up to the job? "A typical Bush work day begins early and ends early with a long break in the middle for exercise," ABC's Dean Reynolds cautioned on Thursday night in a story in which he also relayed the complaint from a professor about how Bush "combines ignorance of the policy background in Washington with a distaste for study." The CBS Evening News ran a similarly themed story which featured criticism from Joe Lockhart, but both concluded with positive spins for Bush.

Reynolds began his December 14 World News Tonight piece: "A typical Bush work day begins early and ends early with a long break in the middle for exercise. Indeed, an enduring image of the post-election period has been Bush at ease at his ranch or at the gym."

University of Texas professor Bruce Buchanan asserted Bush likes to set goals and delegate. Reynolds then told viewers that as Governor of Texas Bush handled "extremists out for political blood" by stiffing them as he realized they had no where else to go, thus strengthening his hand in the center.

Reynolds continued: "In Texas Bush relied heavily for guidance on his political seniors, the late Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock was a mentor much as Dick Cheney is expected to be for Bush in the White House. But does that reliance, which extends to his cadre of loyal aides, mask what some see as a problem."
Buchanan: "It combines ignorance of the policy background in Washington with a distaste for study."
Reynolds concluded with another take: "That may be a vulnerability, but Governor Bush was elected and then re-elected by an overwhelming majority of Texans, the people who know him best."

Over on the CBS Evening News, Bill Whitaker noted that Bush concedes he's a delegator. Whitaker observed: "Aides call it Reaganesque. Critics, delegator in chief. But when Mr. Bush retreated to his ranch while Dick Cheney took on transition, even supporters asked: Who's in charge?"
In a soundbite Condoleeza Rice defended Bush's style, explaining how Bush listens to people and knows how to ask good questions.

Whitaker reported that Bush sees himself as a "super CEO" and viewers then saw a clip of Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater noting how Bush prefers short meetings. Whitaker next ran a clip from Joe Lockhart: "I think if Governor Bush thinks he can put in a 9 to 5 job a great sort of CEO he's in for a rude awakening. There are things unique to the presidency that only he can do. In the middle of the night when the Russian President calls he's not going to want to talk to one of his cabinet members."
Whitaker concluded: "George W. Bush says opponents have underestimated his leadership abilities every step of the way. Now President-elect Bush says he sees no reason to change."

2

"BEWARE" of Tom DeLay, aka "THE HAMMER," warned a wanted poster-like mock up graphic on the CBS Evening News as the broadcast network morning and evening shows on Thursday targeted DeLay as an impediment to the media's push for bipartisanship. As she did Wednesday night (see the December 14 CyberAlert), ABC's Linda Douglass tagged DeLay as a "conservative firebrand." Douglass noted that his push for "a ban on partial birth abortion -- that's what they call it," would "infuriate Democrats."

Introducing a Lisa Myers story, Today co-host Matt Lauer warned that Bush's "biggest headache may come from within his own party." Myers concluded by blaming DeLay for President George H. W. Bush's problems: "DeLay helped lead a conservative revolt against another President Bush for raising taxes, crippling his presidency. A piece of history his son hopes not to repeat."

-- CBS Evening News, December 14. Phil Jones previewed Bush's trouble ahead, starting with how "one of the toughest problems will be with African-Americans." After allowing a black Congresswoman to complain about the awful reminder of the Reagan-Bush years, Jones suggested Bush will work with congressional moderates, like Louisiana Senator John Breaux.

Then, CBS put on the screen a graphic, meant to look something like a wanted poster, with the word "BEWARE" above a picture of Tom DeLay with this below:
"TOM DeLAY
REPUBLICAN
HOUSE WHIP
'THE HAMMER'"

Jones explained: "The other big challenge is this man: Republican Tom DeLay, the House Whip, nicknamed 'the hammer,' the man Democrats have come to despise. DeLay isn't giving interviews but he issued a statement today saying: 'Our new President deserves to be given the opportunity to make the case for his legislative agenda.' But it's that agenda -- privatizing Medicare, Social Security and school vouchers -- that conservatives are ready to go to war over."

After David Gergen observed how conservatives don't want to give in on key policies, Jones concluded: "George W. Bush said he wanted to be the next President so he could end all the partisan bickering. Well, good luck."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass ran through three "pressure points" on Bush in his relations with Congress. Her number one was how Democrats control half the place and McCain's expected effort to push campaign finance reform was her third item. Number 2 in between: "Conservative Republicans, such as Congressman Tom DeLay, will demand that Mr. Bush not give an inch to Democrats. They want him to consider their agenda his top priority, moving quickly on issues like a ban on so-call partial-birth abortion."

-- ABC's Good Morning America. Linda Douglass offered a longer exposition on her concern about Tom DeLay, observed MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"When Vice President-elect Dick Cheney was on Capitol Hill yesterday meeting with Republicans, they advised him to start with tax cuts, tax cuts that have Democratic support; perhaps the marriage penalty tax cut, the estate tax cut. That would not make Democrats happy and conservatives, like Tom Delay in the House of Representatives, the conservative firebrand, suggests there's another issue with some Democratic support, a ban on partial birth abortion -- that's what they call it. That would infuriate Democrats and so it's unclear now whether George W. Bush coming to Capitol Hill is going to have more of a headache from Democrats who are resentful or conservatives who want to push their agenda through now with a Republican President."

-- NBC's Matt Lauer echoed Douglass as he introduced a story on Thursday's Today noticed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"After winning a bitter election battle that divided the nation George W. Bush is promising to work in bipartisan fashion with the Democrats. But as NBC's Lisa Myers reports his biggest headache may come from within his own party."

Myers cautioned: "To the extent Bush tries to govern from the center he must deal with another Texan, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, AKA The Hammer. He's the Republican Democrats love to hate. A hero to many conservatives, some say the most powerful Republican in Congress. As Bush talks of changing the tone in Washington DeLay says, 'If we approach things the way we have the last six years, we'll be fine.' And now that there is finally a Republican President and a Republican congress DeLay says, 'The things we've been dreaming about we can now do unfettered.'"

Myers observed: "Their styles could not be more different. Bush preaches unity, DeLay loves confrontation."

After some soundbites from Tom DeLay and political scientist James Thurber, Myers recalled: "The tension flared briefly during the campaign when Bush criticized House Republicans."
George W. Bush: "If in fact they're gonna try to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, I'm against that."
Myers: "DeLay fired back that Bush has a lot to learn about Congress."

Myers relayed advice for Bush to ignore DeLay's advice: "One veteran Republican lobbyist says if Bush is to succeed in his dealings with Congress he needs to separate himself with DeLay on at least one key issue within the first three months of his administration. The reason? To show that within the Republican party it's George W. Bush who calls the shots."

Myers concluded by blaming DeLay for President George H. W. Bush's problems: "And that George W. Bush is all too aware of. You see DeLay helped lead a conservative revolt against another President Bush for raising taxes, crippling his presidency. A piece of history his son hopes not to repeat."

Maybe what crippled his presidency was not conservatives pointing out his betrayal, but the actual breaking of the promise.

3

Bush not gracious enough for Bryant Gumbel. MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this blast in the form of a question from Bryant Gumbel to former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman on Thursday's The Early Show on CBS:
"Gore mentioned Bush in his first sentence and he talked of him extensively, Bush by contrast acknowledged Gore at the top, said we'd pray for him at the bottom, but really didn't talk about him much in the middle almost as if the speech hadn't taken place, did that surprise you, should he have been more gracious?"

4

Rather stone cold wrong. Dan Rather wrapped up the 9pm half hour CBS News special dedicated to Gore's concession speech on Wednesday night by ruminating about how a statue in Central Park features the quote, "United we stand, divided we fall." In fact, it does not, as a couple of CyberAlert readers alerted me. The statue of Daniel Webster actually showcases a quote from Daniel Webster.

As recounted in the December 14 CyberAlert, Wednesday night Rather delivered this odd sign-off:
"John Dickerson in 1776 wrote: 'Then join hand in hand brave Americans all. By uniting we stand, dividing we fall.' And 'United We Stand, Divided We Fall' is carved in stone on a statue of Daniel Webster not far from this building in New York's Central Park. With that in mind, after a long and bitter campaign for the presidency that lasted five weeks past election day, Vice President Al Gore has just officially ended his campaign for this year and asked the American people to unite behind the new President, George Bush."

I then asked: "Is there really a statute in Central Park of Daniel Webster with those words?"

It turns out I was prescient about Rather's Barbra Streisand potential.

There is a statue of Webster, but not with that quote "carved in stone." CyberAlert reader Dennis Bray e-mailed me with a link to a Central Park Track Club Web page which carries a photo of the statue. The statue actually has this quote displayed at its base: "Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

To see the color photo of the statue, go to:
http://www.centralparktc.org/dwstatue.htm

5

To immediate guffaws from even liberal fellow panelists, late Wednesday night on MSNBC, Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn seriously forwarded the notion that Al Gore is a WWJD man: "What Would Jesus Do, and he said I never make a political decision that I don't ask myself what would Jesus do."

The unintended comedy moment came at about 1:12am ET Wednesday night/Thursday morning during a live edition of Hardball hosted by Chris Matthews. MRC analyst Paul Smith took down the exchange:

Sally Quinn asserted: "One of the things I thought was so interesting about the speech tonight was that he was so natural and so truthful and I think he doesn't know what he wants to do but I think he may have do, something to do with religion. I mean maybe go to divinity school or go on some kind of retreat or something like that. I wouldn't be at all surprised because I think he's a lot more religious than people know. I mean he referred to God several times in his speech tonight and once when I was interviewing him about a year ago he said you know there's an expression in my faith, WWJD, do you know what that is?"

Following a second or two of some crosstalk, Quinn explained: "What Would Jesus Do, and he said I never make a political decision that I don't ask myself what would Jesus do."

Viewers saw a shot of Matthews with his mouth open, staring in disbelief as the panel erupted in laughter. Andrew Sullivan of the New Republic managed to mockingly inquire: "You mean Jesus would have contested West Palm Beach?"

Laughter continued and several panelists talked at once, but Clintonista Paul Begala broke through and came to Gore's defense: "Well, he is spiritual, not simply just religious. You know, he really doesn't just simply go through the motions. This is a really-"
Matthews cut in: "You mean his switch on abortion rights was driven by religion?"
Begala: "It is woven in his life. I don't know his position, I haven't talked about abortion rights."

It was all too much for Matthews: "Oh come on, it's all politics when it comes to that issue. I just, let's go to Lawrence, he was guffawing at that last little commentary."

Democratic political veteran Lawrence O'Donnell, via satellite somewhere, tried to offer a reality check: "Chris, if there is a politician in America who asks what would Jesus do, they might ask it but they certainly don't then do what Jesus would do and Al Gore-"
Matthews: "They just do it sort of for background information."
O'Donnell: "And Al Gore certainly hasn't lived a political career that way. You can ask Bill Bradley if he thought he was running against Jesus in New Hampshire."

+++ By early Friday afternoon ET, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post of video clip of this exchange. For the RealPlayer clip go to the MRC home page: http://www.mrc.org

This wasn't Quinn's first bit of odd pro-Clinton or Gore hokum. Back on the March 10, 1999 Larry King Live on CNN she proclaimed:
"We were talking about -- speaking for all women, if I may, Toni Morrison wrote in The New Yorker that Clinton was our first 'black President,' and I think, in a way, Clinton may be our first 'woman President.' And I think that may be one of the reasons why women identify, because he does have a lot of feminine qualities about him: The softness, the sensitivity, the vulnerability, that kind of thing."

After the Lewinsky scandal, and years of other lying, did Jesus tell Al Gore to describe Bill Clinton as one of America's "greatest Presidents"? -- Brent Baker


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