Alarm bells went off in Harlem over the weekend, and down in Little Rock too, when the Gallup polling firm released the results of its latest survey late last week of public perceptions of presidents past. "Clinton tanked," says a former aide to the president, "and it bugged him a little bit." So much so, word out of Little Rock is that the Clinton Library may undertake its own poll to buttress Clinton's belief that he remains one of America's most popular and respected leaders.
In the latest Gallup "Retrospective Job Approval Ratings," Clinton at 51% finished third to last, safely above Lyndon Johnson (39%) and Richard Nixon (34%), but also well below Jimmy Carter and Jerry Ford (60% each). Even more hurtful, George Bush Sr. came in at 69%, and Ronald Reagan at 73%, which rates up there with George Washington. Most hurtful: JFK scored 83%. Despite his best efforts, Clinton remains no John Kennedy.
"A lot of us are sure that President Clinton will rise in the people's affection over time," says the aide. "He just needs to settle down. Challenging the results of one poll with another isn't the way to go. It just gives his enemies more ammunition."
What has happened to Rep. Jim Leach? Eight years ago, the Iowa Republican and House Banking Committee fixture was the key force in opening investigations into Whitewater and the death of White House counsel Vincent Foster. Though a moderate, he became a hero to conservatives. But how to explain his latest project -- solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict -- and his solution, which would have President George W. Bush send former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter on a peace mission to the Middle East? That's what Leach, along with liberal Democratic Rep. Lois Capps (CA.), called for in a "Dear Colleague" letter passed around Capitol Hill last week.
"He'd never propose that Clinton lead the delegation," a Leach staffer on the House International Relations Committee tells the Prowler. "That's why he wants Bush's father to lead the delegation."
But the staffer also admits that "Clinton would probably jump at the opportunity. It could be his Nixonian moment for retribution."
In any case, the staffer quickly adds, giving Clinton an opportunity to repair his image isn't the point of Leach and Capp's letter. "If there is going to be peace in the Middle East it has to be facilitated at the levels of American government. These former presidents represent the experience we need to project there."
When told of the proposal, a White House foreign policy analyst simply laughed.
Despite a number of important Illinois races -- such as Rod Blagojevich's run for governor -- Democrat Dan Hynes, currently running for re-election to a second term as Illinois state comptroller, is the only in-state politician from the Land of Lincoln featured on dashpac.com, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's political action committee's website. From the looks of it, Hynes just might be Daschle's favorite politician.
One link above a U.S. electoral map announces: "Looking Ahead: 2002 in Your State." Check "Illlinois" and Hynes jumps out at you. Click the arrow at "Tom's Team New Members," and you'll get one name only: "Dan Hynes (IL)." A separate box announces: "The future of the Senate and House begins with our DASHPAC Democratic Leadership. Click here for Tom's Team's new members." Click as instructed and the same single name pops up: Dan Hynes. Daschle calls him "one of the state's rising young stars" who "successfully implemented an ambitious agenda emphasizing taxpayer advocacy, administrative efficiency and innovative fiscal policy" -- hey Tom, that's what state comptrollers do!
"Hynes is probably the only one who gave Daschle's PAC any money," a staffer for the senator explains. "Why should he promote someone who isn't going to help him promote the party? That takes money."
A bigger question is why anyone would want to appear on Daschle's cheesy website, which is riddled with misspellings and hyperlinks to nowhere. "Maybe if people supported the PAC with larger donations, we could upgrade it," the Daschle guy says. "It's a volunteer-only run site." Campaign website reform, anyone?