Washington Prowler

General Gingrich

Newt AEI broadside angers White House. Plus: Wesley Clark's latest retirement. Michael Moore is hearing fictitious boos. Slade won't let it slide.

By 4.23.03

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NEWT BOMB
The White House is livid at former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for his speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute in which he criticized the performance of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Gingrich, who sits on the Defense Advisory Board for the Bush administration, did not discuss his plans for the speech with the White House prior to releasing embargoed copies to various media outlets. Powell learned of the criticisms from reporters.

"Gingrich seems to think that because people at Fox News like to have him on that everybody wants to hear what he says about anything," says a White House political staffer. "But you'd think he would have learned from the last days of his House career to keep his mouth shut."

The White House is concerned that Gingrich's comments will be viewed by State Department senior staff as reflecting White House views, which could not be further from the truth. It is also concerned that Gingrich's comments will embolden already hawkish Defense Department staff, heightening tensions between two cabinet offices that have had strained but cordial relations for months.

THE MAN FROM NO HOPE
So much for Gen. Wesley Clark's presidential prospects. After months of toying with the notion of running for president or perhaps touting himself as vice-presidential material, Clark bit the bullet and signed on as chairman of the board of WaveCrest Laboratories. Clark says his work for the firm, which is seeking to design an electric motor, will probably take up too much of his time to allow for serious politics, given his other responsibilities as a CNN military analyst and his own work as a business consultant.

The WaveCrest offer had been dangled in front of him for some time. And the retired general had put it off, thinking that politics would be in his near future plans. But the decidedly negative reviews of his CNN performances during Operation Iraqi Freedom -- in which he criticized the U.S. military's planning and execution -- doomed his political hopes for now.

UNMOORED
Gonzo filmmaker Michael Moore is claiming that liberal news outlets like ABC and CNN doctored the sound levels of the chorus of boos that rang out during his Oscar diatribe against President Bush. He claims that a careful analysis shows many of these news outlets (which actually give him aid and comfort) redubbed his acceptance speech so that the boos would be seem louder.

What's good for the visibly overstuffed goose is good for the gander. A number of serious charges have been lodged against Moore with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, among them that Moore's award-winning film should not be considered a documentary because he staged scenes and concocted statistics and information that have proved to be false. Moore, as well, based his anti-gun screed on disgraced historian Michael Bellesiles' book, which has now been shown to be almost wholly fiction. The academy has thus far declined comment, but the fact that it is looking into the complaints would indicate the charges are being taken seriously, at least initially.

As for Moore's contention that the boos were bulked up, an ABC New producer says Moore is more full of it than usual. "Given his track record, he probably doctored the tapes himself to get more attention. He knows he's unpopular and revels in it."

SLICK SLADE
Could former Sen. Slade Gorton have had ulterior motives for persuading Rep. Jennifer Dunn to not challenge Democratic Sen. Patty Murray? No sooner did Dunn announce her decision not to run than Gorton's name was floated -- evidently by Gorton -- as a potential challenger to Murray.

Already, Rep. George Nethercutt has announced his intention to run in the Washington primary. Gorton, a moderate Republican, lost his seat to Maria Cantwell in 2000. He was thought to be on the same page as the Bush political team, particularly after the president put Gorton on a commission to investigate the September 11th terrorist attacks. But then Gorton talked Dunn out of running for a seat Karl Rove had basically slotted for her, hoping to run a strong Republican woman against an unappealing Democratic female.

"There is no way Gorton should run," says a Republican National Committee staffer. "He's a has-been."

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