Bill Turque

Stories by Bill Turque

  • Capitol Letter: China's Relationship With Congress Strained

    Rep. Tom Lantos fought with the Hungarian underground as a Budapest teenager in World War II and was among the Jews rescued from the Nazis by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. As the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress, the San Francisco-area Democrat has made human rights-and their scarcity in China-a big piece of his political portfolio. ...
  • Capitol Letter: What The Hammer Wants ...

    House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a.k.a. "The Hammer," is the last man in Washington one would expect to see leading the fight for any kind of growth in government. He generally regards new programs much as he did the roaches he encountered as a Houston exterminator years ago--to be snuffed out wherever possible. But DeLay is also a former foster parent and a long-time advocate for abused and neglected children. Appalled by the chaotic condition of the District of Columbia's foster-care system, the Hammer is pushing hard for creation of a new family court in Washington. ...
  • Capitol Letter: Moment Of Truth

    The legislative term of art is drier than sawdust: "nonseverability." But as Sen. John McCain likes to say, "It's French for no campaign-finance reform." It's also the moment of truth for Senate Democrats who claim to support the McCain-Feingold-Cochran bill, which eliminates unlimited and unregulated "soft money" donations from unions and corporations. The measure is headed for a final vote late Thursday after a remarkable two-week debate. ...
  • Capitol Letter: Them Is Fightin' Words

    It's still a few weeks before Congress, now preoccupied with taxes and campaign-finance reform, takes up the issue of whether to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration. But both sides are already dug in for what promises to be one the year's nastiest legislative fights. ...
  • Capitol Letter: Buying Influence

    Anyone who thinks that the debate over campaign-finance reform, which will return to the Senate floor next week, is a piece of policy esoterica with little relevance to their lives ought to take a look at "Buying Influence, Selling Death," a new study of tobacco-industry money and its pernicious influence on our politics. ...
  • Capitol Letter: Uncivil Society

    Civility has never been a big part of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's operating style. The liberal Georgia Democrat, the first African-American woman elected to Congress from her state, has honed a reputation for racial demagoguery and partisan trash talk. She called former House speaker Newt Gingrich "a little piglet who spent most of his days rolling around in a filthy ditch." ...
  • Capitol Letter: Labor Takes Aim At Mccain-Feingold

    Senate Democrats who support the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill will return from recess next week to a game where the stakes have been raised considerably by a critical constituency: organized labor. During the past several days, according to Democratic sources, the AFL-CIO has dispatched lobbyists to meet with each of their legislative staffs. The labor lobbyists came to reinforce the message from the organization's executive council meeting in Los Angeles last week: that two major provisions of the bill, which is scheduled for floor debate late next month, are unacceptable.Labor is on board with the central objective of McCain-Feingold: elimination of "soft money"-the rivers of unregulated cash from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals that flow to political parties. But it opposes the so-called "electioneering" provision, which bans advertising by unions and corporations for or against specific candidates within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary...
  • It's The Gop Way Or The Third Way

    Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana surveyed the packed Crystal Room at the Willard Hotel Tuesday night and had to marvel. Moderation has never been so hot. The occasion was the winter dinner of the New Democrat Network (NDN), the fund-raising organization he cofounded with Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Bill Clinton campaign aide Simon Rosenberg to underwrite candidates who reject the party's traditional liberal orthodoxy and embrace a centrist, business-friendly "third way."Clinton's new democratic message of economic opportunity, community, and, laughable as it now seems, personal responsibility, helped put him in the White House in 1992. Clinton is gone (sort of ), but the message is not. It is standing-room-only in the center these days, with moderate groups swelling to record dimensions. The House's New Democrat Coalition is the body's single largest caucus, with 70 members-including nine of the party's 13 freshmen. On the Senate side, six of the party's new arrivals have already...
  • Bill Turque: Freshman Day

    Few forms of Washington life are lower on the city's food chain than first-term members of the House. Freshmen scrap and scuffle for recognition, but in a world where seniority still counts for a great deal, they fight constantly to hold total obscurity at bay. At committee hearings, they're the ones in the last seats at the far ends at the table. When they finally get do get the microphone, not many people are listening.It's been ten years since Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) endured his own freshman blues. But the memory was vivid enough that he declared his first hearing as new chairman of the House Budget Committee on Wednesday "Freshman Day," and invited some of the 41 first-year members of the 107th Congress to talk about what was on their minds. "Freshmen typically bring a vitality and exuberance to Congress," said Nussle, "and we need to hear their ideas about writing the new budget."Adam Putnam looks more like a high-school class valedictorian than the newly-minted Republican...
  • Next Up On The Hot Seat

    The subject was one close to Gale Norton's heart: states' rights. George Bush's nominee for secretary of the Interior was still Colorado's attorney general in August 1996 when she spoke to the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank. One of several speakers introduced as "Heroes of Devolution" for their opposition to federal involvement in local matters, Norton described an epiphany she had as she wandered in a Civil War graveyard in Virginia. "I remember seeing this column that was erected... It said in memory of all the Virginia soldiers who die in defense of sovereignty of their state." She went on to say that slavery had undermined the Confederate cause of states' rights. "We certainly had bad facts [a lawyer's term of art for information damaging to a legal argument] in that case where we were defending state sovereignty by defending slavery," Norton said. "But we lost too much. We lost the idea that the states were to stand against the federal government gaining too...
  • Letter from Washington: All Ashcroft, All the Time

    Wednesday should have been a good day for former Sen. John Ashcroft. His prospects for confirmation as George W. Bush???s attorney general, which had always been bright, started to take on an aura of certainty. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia became the first Democrat to announce his support???a breakthrough for Ashcroft in the evenly divided Senate. Even a couple of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee conceded that he was likely to be confirmed.But after two days in the witness chair, Ashcroft resembled not so much the presumptive attorney general as a pinata at a kids??? birthday party. While the outcome is all but decided, the hearings continued as advertised: as a scrimmage for Democrats, liberal interest groups and presidential aspirants to rally their constituencies and play themselves into shape for the larger fights over Supreme Court nominations that are almost certain to break out in the Bush II era.For the second day in a row, Ashcroft was upbraided by Sen. Edward Kennedy,...
  • Why Gore Fights On And On And...

    It was less than three minutes to air, and no one could find Al Gore. Everything was ready for last Monday's speech kicking off the All Al All the Time media offensive, aimed at convincing the public that the 2000 presidential election wasn't over yet. The living room of his Naval Observatory residence was lit for television and bristling with American flags, now the backdrop of choice in the post-campaign air war. But as the seconds slipped away, no Al. As panicked aides prepared to tell the networks they weren't ready, he finally emerged near the podium, oblivious to the frenzy he'd triggered.This is the Gore his advisers like to talk about: focused, unflappable, resolute when those around him are losing faith. At exactly 8:55, he stepped to the microphones and urged that all the votes in Florida be counted. "If the people in the end do not choose me, so be it," he said, briskly marching through his text to wedge a six-minute speech into a five-minute slot. Even on days when the...
  • A Viewer's Guide To Gore

    Early in the 1988 presidential campaign, Al Gore was getting ready to debate his Democratic primary opponents when his mother slipped him a note. Pauline Gore, widely regarded as the most astute politician in the family, had written just three words: "Smile, Relax, Attack." Gore has seldom strayed from his mother's advice. During the past twelve years, he has approached debate as a contact sport, combining meticulous preparation, an in-your-face rhetorical style and, on occasion, a brazen willingness to fracture the facts in an effort to throw opponents off balance.The muscular approach hasn't always served him well. His failed 1988 campaign left him with a reputation as an arrogant know-it-all. But in recent years, Gore has dispatched a series of competitors that include Ross Perot, Jack Kemp and Bill Bradley. While he has often struggled on the stump, debates, with their structured formats and rewards for those who do their homework, play closer to his strengths as a campaigner....
  • Gore's Truth Troubles

    It sounded like a vivid personal anecdote that drove home the urgency of Al Gore's signature campaign issue: the high price of prescription drugs for seniors. Gore told a crowd in Tallahassee on Aug. 28 that his mother-in-law and his dog take the same arthritis medicine, but that Margaret Ann Aitcheson's prescription costs three times as much as the one for Shiloh, the black Labrador.But family stories are dangerous territory for Gore. As is often the case, this one was a little too vivid. The Boston Globe reported on Monday that Gore took his figures not from his family's records but from a House study on drug prices. Moreover, Aitcheson uses Lodine while Shiloh is given an animal version called Etogesic. Gore struck again the same day the Globe story ran. With a pack of reporters on full embellishment alert, Gore serenaded an audience of Teamsters in Las Vegas with the first line of what he said was a childhood lullaby: "Look for the union label ..." If it's true, then Tipper must...
  • The Soul And The Steel

    I am going to Mississippi because there is much work to be done there and few men are doing it," wrote 21-year-old Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Yale Daily News, in his column on Oct. 28, 1963. Lieberman was headed south to help register black voters for a mock election, a prelude to the 1964 Mississippi Summer campaign. It wasn't the only cause he championed from his perch at the paper, and his positions weren't always predictable. That same fall he defended--unsuccessfully--Gov. George Wallace's right to speak to a campus group. But racial injustice in Mississippi struck the deepest chord. "It all becomes a personal matter to me," he wrote. "I am challenged personally." Friends from the Yale days say the Lieberman that Al Gore selected as his running mate last week is the one they knew: pious, earnest, driven but never doctrinaire. One classmate, attorney Angus Macbeth, remembers a favorite phrase Lieberman used to describe his objective in life: "to roll the great ball of truth...
  • The Politics Of Payments

    Simone Ledeen, a 25-year-old market researcher for a Washington technology firm, thinks it's a good time to buy stocks. She started investing last year when a subsidiary of her company went public. The 1997 Brandeis graduate is confident about her ability to do well in the market, and has since branched out into other tech and blue-chip stocks. She likes what she hears about Gov. George W. Bush's plan to allow her to invest as much as one sixth of her Social Security payroll tax and place it in a private retirement account. "If I was permitted to use that money, I could do better," she says.Candidates once risked their necks even whispering about changes in Social Security. But an emerging generation of investment-savvy young voters--as well as older Americans who have thrived in the bull market--has allowed Bush to successfully tackle the treacherous issue. Polls show surprising support for Bush's plan, especially among those under 30, and Vice President Al Gore has taken notice....
  • A Prescription For November

    Al Gore looked every bit the good son as he accompanied Shirley Kindle to fill her prescriptions last week at an East Hartford, Conn., pharmacy. The 65-year-old retired clerical worker, who has no insurance coverage for drugs, rang up $506.34 for a month's supply of medicines to treat diabetes and other ailments; the total devouring her monthly Social Security check of $496. Gore isn't the only 2000 candidate taking trips to the drugstore with seniors. Rep. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat running for the Senate, and Brian Schweitzer, a Montana farmer challenging Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, have both taken groups north of the border for low-cost Canadian medicines and valuable press coverage.Drug prices may be this election year's hottest issue. Polls routinely show that voters regard escalating drug costs as the most serious problem facing the health-care system, and candidates are responding in kind. Gore and President Clinton are pitching new drug benefits for Medicare...
  • Brother In The Background

    Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his big brother, George W, like to share. That includes even the lines they use to distance themselves from their famous parents. "I'm not running because I'm the son of George and Barbara Bush, but because I'm the father of... [insert names of appropriate children here]," both men said in 1994, when they first ran for governorships. More important, both sold themselves to voters as Republicans with hearts. Jeb made "compassion" a touchstone theme of his second, successful run for Florida governor in 1998. Same for W when he launched his presidential campaign from Texas.Jeb now shares something else with his brother: potential trouble on race issues. The flak from W's appearance at Bob Jones University seems to be fading. But Jeb stirred up his own trouble last month when he ended the use of racial preferences in admission to Florida's 10 public universities and rolled back affirmative action in awarding state contracts. The measures have touched off bitter...
  • Reinventing Gore

    It may have been a bit more than some of the 1,200 Democratic women at last week's Washington fund-raiser wanted to know about the real Al Gore. The Gores have decided that marital bliss sells in the post-Monica era, so when Tipper called her reserved husband to the stage, he made sure everyone knew he was actually a tiger after hours. "I love it when she beckons me with her finger like that," Gore said. "I always respond."Election time is approaching, and once again Gore is trying to colorize his beige public image. This year, as in every national campaign since 1988, aides speak hopefully of a reinvented Gore. With warmer, earth-tone suits, a buffer build and a trimmed-down message, he is poised, they say, to reveal some of what family, friends and reporters working off the record often see: a spontaneous, engaging and even subversively funny man. "He's on fire now," bubbled one senior adviser last week. "He feels very passionate now."He had better, at a time when friends and...
  • Next Year's Model

    Bill Clinton loves the hotel del Coronado in San Diego. With its Pacific view, it's one of his favorite places to jog. But as the president huffed down the beach last week, a bystander cut into his early-morning down time. "You're a draft-dodging, yellow-bellied liar," shouted a woman just yards from the president. She hurled every talk-radio invective: sexual harasser, liar, phony. With a grin, the president laughed it off. ...
  • Turning Clinton Green

    BILL CLINTON KNOWS THAT GREEN sells. He celebrated the Fourth of July by helping launch Freedom, a bald eagle recently recovered from a broken wing, back into the wilds of southern Maryland. ""Beautiful, fabulous,'' the president exclaimed to the cameras as Freedom flapped off. Never mind that a pair of fish hawks attacked Freedom while Clinton was holding forth (downed in the water, the eagle was rescued by the coast guard and sent back to rehab). Extolling ""the freedom to breathe clean air, drink safe water and pass a safe world to our children,'' the president seized the chance to identify himself with the environment.Green wasn't always golden at the White House. After the GOP sweep in 1994, enviro-bashing was respectable in the West Wing. ""There's a f-ing rat in California that's going to cost us the election,'' chief of staff Leon Panetta carped about an unwelcome federal ruling to protect a field mouse called the kangaroo rat. (Panetta denies the quote.) But NEWSWEEK has...
  • American Odyssey

    IT WAS RON BROWN'S SIGNATURE role as commerce secretary--playing shepherd to a planeload of American CEOs in search of new foreign business. The destination last Wednesday was Croatia, where executives from AT&T, Bechtel and 10 other firms would press government officials for a larger role in the postwar reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia. Brown was a dealmaker, not a philosopher, and he dismissed critics who called his trade missions there'd been 19 all over the world in three years-jaunts that catered to Democratic corporate contributors (some were, many weren't). If there was a chance to burnish Commerce's moribund image by landing a new export market, he wasn't going to worry about appearances of purity. After a stop in Tuzla, where he came bearing McDonald's hamburgers and sports videos for U.S. troops, his air force T-43A took off for the 45-minute hop to Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast. ...
  • Aborted Revolution?

    Sue Myrick should be a symbol of a triumphant autumn for the anti-abortion movement. Next month the Republican from North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District will be one of 40 new House members -- including six women -- who oppose abortion. In the Senate, nine of 11 new members are also opponents of abortion. Not a single anti-abortion incumbent of either party was defeated by a pro-choice challenger. Although head counts vary depending on how the issue is defined, both houses are, at the most, a handful of votes away from anti-abortion majorities. But Myrick, 53, an advertising executive and the former mayor of Charlotte, says abortion policy is not a priority. ""I don't see it as an issue,'' she said. ""It was not an issue in the campaign. It was rarely even asked about.'' ...
  • Making Mr. Right: A 1996 Assembly Kit

    HE'S A MODERATE CONSERVATIVE IN his 50s, committed to jobs and deep cuts in government spending, but flexible enough in his views that he'll listen to others. He won't raise taxes, but he also won't insult voters with another "read my lips" pledge. He's held major elective office, as a vice president, a governor or a senator. He's served in the military and achieved some business success, but not so much that his wealth puts him out of touch with those who struggle. He's a parent, with a spouse more interested in charitable good works than in public policy. He might have smoked some marijuana in college, even inhaled, but never touched cocaine. ...
  • The Problem With The President

    JACKIE TEDRICK WAS FEELING WISTFUL about the 1992 Clinton-Gore bus tour. She was one of about 10,000 people who gathered at the old Illinois Statehouse in Vandalia on the evening of July 21 to cheer the Democratic ticket on the last leg of its eight-state barnstorming trip. The former capitol where Abe Lincoln began his political career was drenched in television lights. "It reminded me of the night I went to Springfield to see Jack Kennedy. Electricity was in the air," said Tedrick, 61, who works for the state's department of veterans affairs. She still likes Clinton, she said, and she thought he was "really trying." But the "press won't give him a chance," Tedrick scolded. "They nit-pick all the time at what he does. Keep your mouth shut for one day!" She said later, "I'm floundering. I'm searching for honest politicians, and I'm having a lot of difficulty." ...
  • Where Have All The Perotians Gone?

    IN THE SPRING OF 1992 RICK ROBINSON was a gung-ho Ross Perot supporter. Fed up with government regulations, mush-mouthed career politicians and a Republican Party seemingly unable to revive the economy, the 48-year-old Vietnam veteran enlisted in Perot's populist army. He set up a table in his Hyannis, Mass., hardware store-right next to the nail bin and the grass-seed mix-for customers to sign petitions putting Perot on the state's presidential ballot. Robinson even spoke at a huge Perot rally on Boston Common that June. His 10th Congressional District, full of retirees and aging white boomers in the fast-growing outer-rim suburbs of Boston and resort towns along Cape Cod, was prime Perot Country: the Texan received 25 percent of the vote (19 percent nationally). But this fall Robinson's political activity has been limited to his local merchants association, and he'll be voting Republican. He still respects Perot but says he thinks he's failed as a political leader. "He let a lot...
  • New Deal In Detroit

    Dennis Archer, Detroit's first new mayor in 20 years, stood at the altar of the First United Methodist Church in suburban Birmingham and looked out at the virtually all-white congregation. A trim, balding, former state Supreme Court judge with wire-rim glasses and salt-and-pepper beard, Archer is a delicate hybrid of preacherly charisma and jurist's decorum. And on this Sunday evening last February, he spelled out the message of his mayoralty. "Let me suggest to you that we are in this fight together," Archer said. "Do we want America, as it is presently, a nation of mistrust merely because of a person's skin?" ...
  • In The Line Of Fire

    WITH THE EXCEPTION of his wife, Bill Clinton has no closer senior adviser than George Stephanopoulos. In the crucible of a turbulent 1992 campaign, Clinton came to depend heavily on Stephanopoulos's combination of razor intellect and political instinct. And in a world where proximity is power, the 33-year-old son of a Greek Orthodox priest holds forth in the work space closest to the president, adjoining the Oval Office through a private dining room. ...
  • The Unsinkable Scandal

    EVEN AFTER THE MOST humiliating stretch of days in the Clinton presidency-after the parade of subpoenas, the forced resignation of the White House counsel, the Republican charges of cover-up, the spectacle of aides marching into the federal courthouse to deliver grand jury testimony-the White House still simmered in an angry state of denial for much of last week. The president delivered a podium-thumping defense of his First Lady ("I have never known a person with a stronger sense of right and wrong . . .") and then tried to soothe an East Room assemblage of aides with an excerpt of children's poetry from a book he once read to Chelsea. ...
  • Mississippi Burning

    BRENDA HENSON GOT THE MESSAGE early on the morning of Nov. 8 as she dug a ditch on her new 120-acre farm in Ovett, Miss. She was readying the site for Camp Sister Spirit, a women's retreat she cofounded last summer with other community activists from nearby Biloxi and Gulfport. They're planning an educational center that will offer workshops on racism, sexism, family violence and the empowerment of "womyn," as they spell the word in their newsletter. Her daughter discovered the dead dog tied to their mailbox. It was a female, shot in the stomach, with tampons stuffed under its body. "The message," says Henson, "was, 'Get out, bitches'." ...
  • Sailing Through Troubled Seas

    ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING 311 is legendary for its difficulty among the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy. A required course for nonengineers, it is a traditional source of high anxiety and low grades. "EE" now has a new notoriety. After a final exam last December, a few juniors reported that questions from the test had circulated throughout Bancroft Hall, the Academy dormitory, for the previous three days. Student-run honor boards found strong cases for expulsion against 11 midshipmen, and last April, Academy superintendent Rear Adm. Thomas Lynch cleared five and referred the remaining six to the secretary of the navy for dismissal. ...
  • Shrinking The Military

    Sgt. 1/C Harvey Bush grabbed his crotch and posed the question to his audience, 40 enlisted men and women at Fort Sill in southwest Oklahoma. Why do men, who normally keep their hands at their sides, or wave them when they talk, place them elsewhere when they see a woman? "Why do you have to pick it up and make sure it's still there?" asked Bush, who was running the army base's 19th class of the week on sexual harassment. Bush uses the gesture to provoke candid discussion. He is not disappointed. When several men praised the importance of male bonding and their desire to serve with men only, the women jeered and shouted. Pfc. Roberto Ybanez described women as "a thorn in my side." Another trooper said he felt "uncomfortable and angry" when a female co-worker recounted her sexual exploits. ...

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