By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Maybe there's hope for the Middle East, after all. If Bill Clinton and one of the men who helped impeach him can make peace, why not the Israelis and the Palestinians?
In one of the more startling cases of odd bedfellows, Clinton and former congressman James Rogan (R-Calif.), one of 13 House impeachment managers against Clinton in 1998, have been secret pen pals since 2001.
Though perhaps more pen than pal.
Rogan has sent the wannabe "First Husband" photos he personally took of Clinton, flowers, rare campaign buttons -- even impeachment memorabilia intended for the former president's library in Arkansas. Each time, sources familiar with the relationship say, the impeached president has sent Rogan a thank-you note.
It's almost as if Rogan has been slowly apologizing over the past decade for his role in the impeachment, a critical reason for his defeat in the 2000 elections. It also may well cost Rogan, now a California state judge, a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
More than thank-you notes, Rogan needs Clinton's blessing to move forward his nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Until then, standing between him and the federal bench is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). She declines to say whether her distaste for the impeachment crusade against Clinton has anything to with her opposition to his nomination. (Home-state senators are granted privileges that allow them to block judicial appointments.)
Boxer's spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, tells On the Hill that it's all about Rogan's anti-liberal record on the environment, guns and labor, which she said is "completely out of sync" with California.
Rogan's relationship with Clinton began in January 2001, when Rogan snapped photos of him at George W. Bush's inauguration. Rogan sent the photos to Clinton with a note that, according to one source who saw it, made a self-deprecating reference to his abilities as a photographer being no better than his abilities as an impeacher of presidents. Clinton responded with a handwritten thank-you note.
Later, when Rogan was head of the U.S. Patent Office, he sent Clinton buttons from his political collection and eventually a package of impeachment memorabilia for use in the Clinton library. When Clinton underwent heart bypass surgery, Rogan sent flowers along with a copy of his book, "Rough Edges."
Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Clinton, tells us he helped facilitate the friendly correspondence. He recalls that in one of his rare telephone chats with Clinton, sometime in 2005, the former president said to him, "Your friend Jim Rogan reached out to me."
"The '90s are behind them," Davis said of the Clintons and impeachment, "and they don't want to retread the past."
Clinton, through a spokesman at his foundation, had no comment. Rogan declined to discuss his personal correspondence with Clinton but said: ""We're both retired political warriors. Boxers, when the fight is over, are often the first to embrace in the ring and congratulate each other."The Craig Courtship
In another political courtship, Sen. Larry Craig (Idaho) is receiving attention from Republican colleagues, three months after he first promised to quit.
Ever since Craig's former singing partner, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), announced on Monday that he will resign next month, senators have been calling colleagues for support in the secret-ballot leadership elections, which will be held next Thursday. They've even been calling Craig, the man they desperately wanted gone.
"He's a sitting senator until otherwise. Absolutely we've reached out to him," said a senior aide for one of the half a dozen Republicans angling for votes in leadership races. "We're not leaving any stones unturned."
And rightly so. The last two contested Republican leadership races, including Lott's victorious bid for minority whip in autumn 2006, were decided by a single vote.
Of the candidates for conference chairman, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) appears to be in the worst position to receive Craig's vote. Hutchison, after all, is part of the leadership, as policy committee chairman. She joined a unified leadership team in late August, after revelations that Craig had been arrested for disorderly conduct in a Minnesota airport restroom sting, that called for a still-ongoing ethics committee investigation into Craig's behavior and demanded that he surrender his leadership positions on three legislative committees.
Another candidate, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), benefited most from Craig's fall. He took over as top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
So the leading candidate for Craig's support appears to be Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). On the day Craig stunned lawmakers by returning to the chamber, Alexander told us that he happily greeted his colleague. "I shook his hand and said hello to him," Alexander said on Sept. 18.
Don't expect anyone to brag about Craig's support. As an aide for another leadership aspirant put it, Craig is about the "101st" most-sought-after Republican when it comes to generating support from other senators.
Then again, if any of the races come down to one vote, Craig may have the last laugh.No Card for Hagel
Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), who has made a reputation as a go-to Republican for an anti-White House quote, may have outdone himself yesterday in an address before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration "the lowest grade of any I've known."
"I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen or ever read about," Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn't get the point, Hagel also said: "They have failed the country."
Then Hagel went to dinner with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the recently turned independent who has toyed with the idea of a Bloomberg-Hagel presidential ticket.