This Week

Issue: "Modern martyrs," Nov. 30, 1996

Inventing a candidate (by Cal Thomas)

You might think that a post-election cruise for conservatives sponsored by National Review would resemble a wake, mourning the White House loss. Far from it. The success in maintaining a Republican majority in Congress has given conservatives a confidence they have mostly lacked in the post-Reagan years. The Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed made the most intriguing remark when he told me that "we are going to have to invent a presidential candidate for the year 2000." By that he meant finding a person who already subscribes to what most conservatives believe rather than attempting to squeeze a moderate-to-liberal Republican into an ill-fitting ideological suit. Perhaps this person would resemble former Wyoming Republican Sen. Malcolm Wallop, who presented a speech on the cruise that he had delivered the previous week to the economically conservative Cato Institute. Mr. Wallop listed specifically how and why conservatives should extricate themselves from a party mentality. There are too many to recount here, but the first step is to stop viewing the party as the exclusive property of Rockefeller Republicans who have by default been setting the party's agenda. Those Republicans have lost the White House twice in the past two national elections, compared to the three-in-a-row victories delivered by two Reagan administrations and one Bush administration. As conservatives dominate the intellectual and political high seas, Mr. Wallop had a word of caution: "My concern is with the character of American conservatism... . In Europe conservatives long ago gave up the principled battle against the welfare state, became just another set of claimants and have taken up the anti-immigration cause, not without racism. If you want to see a conservatism more niggardly and with less of a future than Nixon's, Dole's, Pete Wilson's, or Christine Whitman's, just go to Europe. The American conservative tradition, which began with Washington and Adams, is founded on a concern for character. No phrase came from Washington more often than 'we have a national character to establish.'" Mr. Wallop correctly asserted that America, with each passing year, resembles less what the Founders intended and more like the countries our immigrant forefathers fled. Conservatism has obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is the stereotype of "mean-spiritedness" and "selfishness." But like big ships, great social movements take time to turn around. Conservatives are on the right course. The question is, should they be on the Republican boat or abandon ship? copyright 1996, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

The love of money

Harold Nicholson was a day away from his 46th birthday when he checked in at Dulles airport for a flight to Switzerland to mix business with pleasure, and ultimately meet up with the woman he'd planned to marry. Then the FBI arrested him. The 16-year CIA veteran was charged with selling secrets to Russia--specifically the names of all the new CIA recruits from July 1994 to July 1996--for $180,000. U.S. Attorney Helen Fahey made known the weekend arrest Nov. 18 and denounced Mr. Nicholson as a man who "betrayed his country for money." He's the highest-ranking CIA official ever charged. The next day, FBI officials said the Russians may have inadvertently given evidence that Mr. Nicholson was working for them. Russian officials said they were seeking information on Chechnya; shortly thereafter, Mr. Nicholson allegedly began seeking information on that country, which he did not need for his CIA work. An Alexandria, Va., grand jury formally indicted Mr. Nicholson Nov. 21; his court-appointed lawyer says the accused double agent will plead not guilty at his December arraignment.

The land down under

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President Clinton got out of town one step ahead of potential legal troubles. As the president was enjoying a working vacation in Australia, the U.S. Supreme Court set a date to hear the case of a woman who claims Mr. Clinton made aggressive sexual advances toward her in a Little Rock, Ark., hotel in 1991. Oral arguments in the Paula Jones case are slated for Jan. 13, a week before Mr. Clinton's second inaugural. At issue is whether a citizen can sue a sitting president for acts that occurred prior to his taking office. Also while the president was away, Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros announced Nov. 21 he'd soon be leaving town--making him the seventh of 14 cabinet members to quit since Mr. Clinton's reelection. In tendering his resignation, Mr. Cisneros said he needed to make much more than the $148,000 a year he earned as HUD secretary to support his two daughters' educations--one in college, the other in law school. What Mr. Cisneros didn't mention was his growing indebtedness to the law school graduate representing him in a special counsel probe to determine whether he lied to the FBI about payments to a former mistress. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton's former law partner and former Clinton administration assistant attorney general Webster Hubbell testified Nov. 19 to a grand jury about payments he received from business enterprises controlled by Indonesian financier Mochtar Riady. Mr. Riady's Lippo Group is at the center of a controversy over foreign-linked contributions to the Democratic Party. On Nov. 20, Mr. Hubbell left federal prison, where he is nearing the end of a 21-month mail fraud and tax evasion sentence, and took up residence in a Washington, D.C., halfway house. He was convicted of stealing almost half a million dollars from Rose Law Firm clients.

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