Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Heresy trials," Aug. 18, 2001

Key White House policy and political operatives are doing more than crafting new messages and building new coalitions; they're also meeting together for prayer and Bible study from noon to 1:00 p.m. each Thursday. The prayer meeting draws some four dozen staffers from all over the White House complex, including (not surprisingly) the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. The meeting also includes individuals from presidential personnel, speechwriting, public liaison, the office of the White House Counsel, the Vice President's staff, and even White House interns. Another prayer and Bible study involving career government employees who work in the White House complex meets on Tuesdays. The meetings, organized by long-time Bush aides who held similar prayer meetings in Texas, are not designed to advance administration work or career networking. They are to give Christians the opportunity to break away from their high-stress work for an hour and remember in whose kingdom they really serve. Top Republican and White House officials-including Karl Rove, the President's chief strategist-say the GOP is likely to pick up between 10 and 25 new Republican seats in the U.S. House of Representatives due to Congressional redistricting. If true, this would represent a dramatic boost for GOP prospects to retain control of the House over the course of the next decade, despite the fact that the GOP's grip has been slipping over the last few House election cycles. GOP operatives are also praising House Speaker Denny Hastert and arguing that GOP victories on tax cuts and health care (see page 22) bode well for the 2002 House elections. From the moment he was dubbed The Comeback Kid in New Hampshire in 1992, Bill Clinton has loomed larger than life on the American stage. Now he appears to have set a record by securing a $10 million book advance from Alfred A. Knopf publishers to write his life story. The advance tops all others, including advances earned by Hillary Clinton and Pope John Paul II. "President Clinton is one of the dominant figures on the global stage," says Sonny Mehta, the president of Knopf. "His memoir, one of the most widely anticipated books in memory, will be a thorough and candid telling of his life, with a primary focus on the White House years." Candid? One wonders what the former president could possibly tell us that we don't already know in excruciating and uncomfortable detail. One as yet unresolved question: To maximize book sales and improve his prospects for a positive "legacy," will Dick Morris focus group each chapter and even the book's title (as he did for his own book, Behind the Oval Office)? The President's missile defense strategy is under intense fire by Congressional Democrats who praise John F. Kennedy's vision of sending an American to the moon but can't seem to stomach the idea of protecting Americans from an ayatollah launching a nuclear rocket at us. Now a group of conservative leaders in Washington, D.C., Americans for Missile Defense, are building a defense strategy of their own. Organized by David Keene of the American Conservative Union, the group seeks to gather one million signatures in favor of the President's plan and to unleash a torrent of e-mails, faxes, phone calls, and letters to wavering, wobbling Congressmen in an attempt to persuade them to support the Bush plan. A group of American business and political leaders are building a pro-Israel media "war room" in Washington, D.C. The group will be called "Emet"-which in Hebrew means "truth." Emet will try to address biased media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also make the case that the conflict, while serious and important, pales in comparison to the larger geo-strategic threat posed to the United States and the West by Iran and Iraq, both of whom are trying to build and/or acquire weapons of mass destruction. Funding Emet is Leonard Abramson; he sold U.S. Healthcare to Aetna in the mid-1990s for $8.9 billion. Abramson has recruited a powerful board of directors, including Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot; Les Wexner, founder of The Limited; Edgar Bronfman Sr., who once owned Seagram's; and Lou Ranieri, a major Wall Street player who now co-owns one of Israel's largest banks. Also joining the board are Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and Jack Kemp.

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg


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