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Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "War in the shadows," Oct. 6, 2001

Top White House officials are looking for an appropriate way for President Bush to mark Oct. 11-one month after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington-and honor those slain and wounded. Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, and Andrew Card are all involved in planning what could be the president's next major public appearance. Rove has tapped Tim Goeglein-deputy director of White House public liaison and a strong evangelical-to play an important role. Despite his low-key manner, or perhaps because of it, Goeglein is a rising star in this administration and has won growing respect in recent weeks for resourcefully reaching out to religious and conservative leaders and integrating them into the administration's war effort. At 4 p.m. on Sept. 12, Rove told Goeglein he had less than 48 hours to design the nationally televised memorial service at the National Cathedral. The 37-year-old pulled together a team of 10 White House aides, as well as Pentagon staffers experienced in handling tragedies, and it was Goeglein who first called Billy Graham, because of his "personal importance to the president." The following week, Goeglein helped organize a meeting between President Bush and 25 leaders of various religions-including evangelicals Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, and Bill Hybels-to brief them and answer questions. The president ended the 40-minute Roosevelt Room meeting by praying with those assembled. The 16- to 18-hour days are tough for someone married with two young sons, but, says Goeglein, "all of a sudden you're inside of a moment. You either grasp or you lose it. Churchill knew that all the events of his life were a preparation for that moment [fighting World War II]. I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility." Bush may be Churchill on the war but he's Chamberlain on the economy, worry some members of Congress and economists as markets plunge, companies lay off thousands of workers, and the White House resists backing a bold new pro-growth tax-cut package. "The administration and [Fed Chairman Alan] Greenspan are waging war on the terrorists but they're appeasing the Keynesians," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. Trent Lott urged the president at a recent White House meeting to slash the capital-gains tax rate to give new incentives to risk-averse entrepreneurs. "Bush once said the biggest mistake his father made was not to use his popularity to push through his domestic agenda," said Rep. Ryan. "The mistake this president is making, I think, is waiting to pursue his domestic agenda until after the war is over, or significantly won. The White House is concerned about re-stoking partisanship.... Their minds revert back to the '80s when the investor class was half of what it is today. But things are totally different now." Nevertheless, there is virtually no chance a tax cut will pass this year, according to top Capitol Hill staff. Congressional leaders want to leave town by the end of this month after passing a huge omnibus government spending bill, rather than a series of individual bills for each Cabinet department. Current federal spending authority expires Oct. 15. An additional continuing resolution will likely be passed before then to keep the government running while details of the final bill are worked out. On Jan. 1, 2002, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will leave office after eight years-unless a growing chorus of New Yorkers have their way. A move is afoot to rewrite the city's term-limits law and allow the mayor to serve a third term, or an interim term until the present crisis is over. A new website-www.keeprudy.com-has sprung up, and even the pro-term limits Wall Street Journal ran an editorial by Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute, "Keep Rudy, Postpone the Mayoral Election." Everywhere Giuliani goes, he hears crowds chanting "Run, Rudy, Run!" and "Four more years!" When he appeared on David Letterman's show recently, the crowd went crazy. But not all are so enthusiastic: "I don't think it's something we should bring to Albany, to overturn the will of the people," said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat. Giuliani's approval rating now tops 91 percent.

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg


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