Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2001 / 21 Shevat 5761

Morton Kondracke

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

McCain won't run against Bush again, just differ on issues -- SEN. John McCain (R-Ariz.) denies in near Sherman terms that he'll ever challenge President Bush or run again for president. McCain told me he wishes Bush only the best. But it looks like he'll remain a constant irritant to the White House.

First it was about campaign finance reform. This week it's health care. Soon it may be gun control. But the big test of whether McCain will play on Bush's team probably will come over the core issue of tax cuts.

McCain is holding up judgment on that for the moment. Aides recall that he proposed smaller, more progressive tax cuts than Bush's during the 2000 GOP primaries, but the Arizonan said in an interview that the economic slowdown may justify a bigger cut.

McCain's 2000 proposal was for $480 billion over 10 years with benefits concentrated on those making under $70,000 per year. Bush proposed $1.3 trillion - which has grown to $1.6 trillion because new fiscal years are involved - with all brackets getting a rate cut and highest-income taxpayers getting the most dollars back.

"In harder economic times, it argues more for a tax cut," McCain said. "I don't have a lot of problems with what [the Bush team] proposes. I may have some differences in priority. It depends on who gets it and under what circumstances than the size of it."

"I certainly have modified my view" because the economy is no longer "overheated," he said. "But whether I'm completely on board with their [proposal], I just want to see it before I make a final decision."

This sounds as if McCain ultimately might object to the distribution of Bush's cuts. McCain's aides say he certainly will resist efforts on K Street to add major corporate tax breaks to the Bush bill.

Asked how Bush is performing as president so far, McCain said, "I think he's doing fine, just fine. I may have some nuanced differences, but I think having education as the first thing out of the box and reaching out are the right things. I think he's had a wonderful opening couple of weeks."

McCain is said to think that his problems lie not so much with Bush himself as with Bush aides, particularly top White House aide Karl Rove, who, as a result of the primary campaign, "still don't like John McCain."

McCain allies say he "doesn't understand why there's such resentment" toward him at the White House, "since they won and he lost." McCain reportedly calls Bush aides who criticize him "sore winners."

McCain's allies said he believes that Rove's effort to dissuade GOP Reps. Greg Ganske (Iowa) and Charlie Norwood (Ga.) from cosponsoring his patients' rights bill made the proposal's unveiling Tuesday "a much bigger deal than it needed to be."

Norwood agreed to hold off sponsoring the measure, but Ganske did not. McCain said the White House never asked him to delay even though it was known that he was negotiating with Democrats on the bill.

Bush aides say the President has both substantive and timing problems with the legislation, sponsored in the Senate by McCain, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), and in the House by Ganske and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)

Bush wants to introduce his own patients' rights bill at a time of his choosing, believing that the McCain-Kennedy bill will raise health insurance premiums by failing to adequately cap damage awards in lawsuits against HMOs.

McCain and Ganske, in separate interviews, said 33 states already have laws limiting damages and that their bill respects those laws, while setting a $5 million cap for federal suits. Bush favors Texas' cap of $750,000 on punitive damages.

"I remain in a cordial relationship with George Bush and I'm committed to that," McCain contends. A staffer pointed out that in Europe last week McCain argued for Bush's national missile defense idea. Also, McCain agrees with Bush that there should be a Social Security reform commission. "That was McCain's idea," a staffer said.

Still, McCain is causing heartburn at the White House by pushing campaign finance reform to the front of the agenda and may also seek early passage of a bill requiring background checks at gun shows - a measure Bush supports, but probably doesn't consider a top priority.

"I'm not going to get confrontational with Bush," McCain said. "You're not going to see me trying to embarrass this administration. But I also have to balance that with [advocating] things I was committed to long before he was president."

Asked about fears expressed by some Bush loyalists that McCain would run against him in 2004 if he looked vulnerable, McCain said, "That would be foolish on my part. History shows that taking on an incumbent president is a fool's errand.

"I really feel I had my run at it. I have no contemplation of running for president again, none whatsoever. I fully anticipate campaigning for the re-election of George Bush."

So has he ruled out in his mind ever running for president again? "Oh, yeah," he said.

Does he absolutely rule out running against Bush? "Absolutely," he said. That should give the White House some peace, but it probably won't.

JWR contributor Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. Send your comments by clicking here.


02/12/01: Is Joe Lieberman tilting left toward 2004?
02/07/01: The controversy starts: Bush orders HHS study of fetal, stem cell issues
02/05/01: Dems move toward bush on taxes, but ...
02/01/01: Bush should be open with press
01/30/01: Bush Should go for broke early on education
01/23/01: Clinton ain't going away, folks
01/19/01: Bush should try for legacy as 'Great Reconciler'
01/16/01: Left-Center Rift Re-emerges For Democratic Leaders
01/12/01: Clinton doing Bush no favors in Mideast
01/09/01: Bush and Democrats can deal
12/14/00: Will Daschle make it his business to get along with President Bush?
12/08/00: GOP is in danger of ruining record on medical research
11/27/00: Some fascinating stories about how and why people voted
11/22/00: GOP Survived health bullets, but one is left
11/20/00: Can next president and Hill deal?
11/15/00: With nation split, leaders must reach across party divide
11/07/00: The Envelope, Please:Bush Beats Gore, GOP Holds Hill
11/03/00: Parties appeal to two 'gospels'
11/01/00: Lurking in the shadows
10/26/00: What's Gore's Social Security plan?
10/18/00: While Bush, Gore debate surplus, Congress spends it
10/16/00: Two debates leave lots of questions
10/03/00: What questions should be debated?
09/28/00: Gore and Bush should prepare to lead
09/19/00: Bush let values issue slip away
08/25/00: Gore hands center to Bush
08/22/00: AlGore, look to future, not to Bubba
08/08/00: 2000 race could leave high road for low
08/03/00: Convention must point Bush to center
08/01/00: GOP Readies 'Debt Lockbox' As 2000 Strategy
07/27/00: Cheney adds heft to GOP ticket
07/25/00: Foreign, Defense Policy Deserves Full 2000 Debate
07/20/00: Truman Show: Gore Replays 1948, But Bush Isn't Dewey
07/18/00: Bush Must Fight Gore's Drug Plan As 'Bad Medicine'
07/13/00: Mexico's Election Supports U.S. Action On NAFTA, Bailout
07/10/00: Abortion is good for something --- just ask AlGore
07/06/00: Meet Steve Ricchetti, Bubba's secret weapon
06/30/00: AlGore is down, but is he out?
06/27/00: Social programs caught in election-year game of one-up
06/22/00: Congress Is Near Flunking a Test On School Reform
06/16/00: Doting on the grandparents
06/13/00: On Stem Cells, Bush Has Wrong Pro-Life Stance
06/08/00: Has Gore Caught Bush?
05/26/00: PNTR Vote Could Tell Which Party Fits 'New Economy'
05/23/00: The secret to winning the election: Economic programs
05/18/00: Gore should regroup
05/16/00: McCain's Support Is Tepid, But Lets Bush Focus on Gore
05/11/00: Voters need wonk training
05/09/00: Bush Could Score With Charge That Gore's Too Partisan
04/28/00: Reno's force aids Clinton, not Elian
04/25/00: Should Clinton be indicted?
04/24/00: Can Gore win on Bush tax cuts?
04/18/00: Levin's 'bridge' key to China trade?
04/11/00: Congress, U.S. Voters Still Aren't Ready For Campaign Reform
04/06/00: Bush, Gore Silent As Popular Culture Gets Ever Coarser
03/30/00: Is 2000 Like 1948, 1976 or 1960? Or Is This Unparalleled?
03/28/00: Will Bush, Gore Go for a Better Way To Pick Nominees?
03/23/00: Medicare cutbacks bleed hospitals
03/20/00: Chances Improve That China Trade Will Pass Congress
03/16/00: Lieberman as veep would help Gore
03/14/00: Can Bush, McCain Unite to Beat Gore?
03/09/00: Can GOP Forge Unity After Nasty McCain-Bush Race?
03/07/00: What accounts for McCain's excesses?
03/02/00: 'Debate' Proved Gore Is This Year's Best Gut-Fighter
02/29/00: Surprises! The 2000 GOP race is full of it
02/25/00: Voters want centrist in White House
02/23/00: Gore would hit McCain's record
02/15/00: Will negativity hurt McCain in S.C.?
02/10/00: How hard should Bush hit McCain?
02/08/00: Bush must retool his entire campaign
01/27/00: Could Gore beat Bush as Truman beat Dewey?
01/20/00: Big New Surplus Estimates Could Alter 2000 Politics
12/21/99: Bush improves, everyone panders
12/16/99: Prospects improve for campaign reform
12/14/99: Riots raise free trade as 2000 issue
12/10/99: Gore won GOP 'debate' in N.H.
12/07/99: Election pits Bush cuts vs. Medicare boost
12/03/99: Can race be a constructive issue in 2000?
11/19/99: White House race may be best in decades
11/16/99: Where is Bush on health care fight?
11/11/99: Will TV stop profiteering from politics?
11/09/99: Is GOP isolationist, or just partisan?
11/04/99: Gore, Bradley Run Opposite Races On Style, Substance
11/01/99: GOP, Clinton could reach deal swiftly
10/27/99: Bush to fight 'culture wars' -- positively
10/21/99: Porter, Mack: heroes on medical research
10/19/99: Gore scores among party big shots, but polls go South
10/14/99: Bush critiques could help GOP Congress
10/12/99: Congress can save health care from ruin
10/07/99: Will gun-control cause the GOP to shoot itself in the foot?
10/05/99: Gore moves: Desperate but necessary
10/01/99: Fox, Armstrong make case for NIH
09/28/99: Dems' race brightens Bush's chances
09/23/99: East Timor deflates `Clinton Doctrine'
09/21/99: Buchanan v. Bush? Yeah right
09/17/99: Candidates turn attention to poverty
09/15/99: Bush's education problem
09/09/99: Budget makes 2000 an `issues' election
09/07/99:Airport rage increases, with good reason
09/02/99: U.S. future up for grabs in 2000
08/31/99: U.S. Capitol needs visitor's center -- soon
08/24/99: Will 2000 be the year of the foreign crisis?
08/19/99: Neither party has upper hand for '99
08/17/99: Ford gets freedom medal one month early
08/12/99: There's time to catch Bush, say Gore aides
08/10/99: Rudy, Hillary try much-needed makeovers
08/09/99: GOP must launch new probe of Chinagate
08/02/99: Pols blow fiscal smoke on budget surplus
08/02/99: One campaign reform should pass: disclosure
07/27/99: Gore leads Bush in policy proposals

©1999, NEA