Some staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency say they believe EPA director Christie Todd Whitman is halfway out the door. “It hasn’t been a good year for us,” says an EPA staffer. “A lot of the so-called professional staff and holdovers from Clinton have made life miserable for us. We haven’t gotten a break, and she hasn’t done anything to improve morale. We think she’s a short-termer.”
To that end, several political appointees under Whitman have been putting out feelers for jobs in the private sector or up on Capitol Hill. “We think she’s gone after election day,” says another EPA-er. “She hasn’t said anything definitive, but you just get the sense that she is looking to get out of town.”
According to a White House source, no Cabinet-level official is expected to leave the administration before the November mid-term elections. Although mounting pressure for President Bush to jettison Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill could change that.
“If O’Neill walks, it’s because O’Neill walks. He’s his own man, but he’s not going to leave the administration at a time when it’s vulnerable. The only way he leaves is if the president asks him, and we don’t expect that to happen,” says a Treasury Department staffer.
As well, there are rumblings inside the White House and across the river at the Pentagon that should Ari Fleischer step down as White House Press Secretary, Rumsfeld flack Torie Clark would be in line to replace him. But Pentagon sources say that Clark has her eye on the press secretary job at Homeland Security once it is up and running as a cabinet position.
CROSSING THE LINE
When a local restaurant union in Washington, D.C. was picketing area power lunching spots a few years ago, prominent Democrats would avoid crossing the pickets to dine. But that doesn’t mean they sacrificed their steak and red wine for the cause — they’d just make their reservations for later, when the pickets were on break before the dinner rush. One well-known Democratic political consultant would call ahead to his regular restaurant each day to make sure the pickets had left. Lunch just doesn’t taste the same if you’ve had to cross a picket line to grab it.
Democrats have always had a thing for unions, especially their money and their voting power in the Rust Belt and in California. But that doesn’t mean they always “look for the union label” or don’t Democrats love a bargain like everyone else. Take the Democratic National Committee’s site selection committee for the 2004 convention. Sure, it spent time in Detroit, New York and Boston, talked about how important it was that the party be in a “union town.” But then it traveled to Miami, where it stayed in a nonunion hotel, ate at nonunion restaurants, danced the night away at nonunion nightclubs, and were wowed by the American Airlines Arena, a nonunion hall where the convention might be held.
“It wasn’t something we were aware of when we booked into Miami,” says a DNC staffer. “Those arrangements were made by folks in Florida and by the city and the business groups that are making the pitch to us. Had we known we were in nonunion facilities, we might have looked elsewhere.” Notice the use of the word “might.”
The Miami junket isn’t the first time Dems have gone against their union brothers in arms. When plans were still on to build a completely new DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., the party looked into the hiring of nonunion construction help. “Unions support us because they understand we support their agenda more than Republicans do, but that doesn’t mean that when it comes to business decisions we can’t look elsewhere,” says a former DNC staffer now working on Capitol Hill. “The unions understand that this can be a complicated relationship at times.”
Sure. Al Gore‘s presidential campaign in 2000 used a similar excuse when it was caught using some nonunion help to move into their headquarters in Tennessee.
And more recently there is Democratic candidate and former White House/Clinton senior adviser Rahm Emanuel, who is running for a House seat in Chicago, a big union town if ever there was one. Seems he renovated his home there a couple of years ago, and used nonunion labor for the job. And those folks did such good work he hired nonunion help to paint said abode a few weeks ago. While Emanuel hasn’t denied the charges, he hasn’t wasted a lot of time thinking about them, either. Which seems to sum up the union/Democratic Party relationship perfectly.
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