The Political Grapevine

The New York Times is not disputing the charge by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell that he was forbidden to mention The Times itself in his Sunday op-ed piece criticizing campaign finance reform legislation.

McConnell regularly cites the editorial pages of The Times and The Washington Post as what he calls special interest backers of campaign finance reform, but said The Times told him it would not publish his article if it mentioned the paper. 

After McConnell made the charge on Fox News Sunday, The Times made no statement and a spokesman did not return phone calls. 

Not a Fan 

Barbra Streisand has sent Congressional Democrats a memo chastising both them and the public for their response to President Bush. 

"We have a president who stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance and intimidation," she wrote. "Look at his ratings. How could such a destructive man be so popular with the American people?" 

As for the Democrats, she wrote, "some of you seem paralyzed, demoralized and depressed... I hope you're through arguing among yourselves and distancing yourselves from President Bill Clinton." 

The title of the memo, first revealed by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call is: "Nice Guys Finish Last or Where Do We Go From Here." 

Soft Money, Hard Decisions 

Even as he and other top Democrats are supporting the elimination of so-called soft money from politics, House Minority leader Dick Gephardt has formed a soft-money funded political action committee to help the Democrats win back control of the House. 

Roll Call says the soft-money PAC is also expected to help Gephardt, "fortify his national base while he mulls" whether to run for President in 2004. 

Imitation Ain't Fun 

The latest from the zero-tolerance on drugs movement concerns three boys at Harrison Elementary School in Maine. They passed out a couple of breath mints and said they were Advil tablets. 

One boy complained of a stomachache afterward and was told by a teacher he wouldn't get in trouble if he told all. He did. The school then suspended him and the other two boys. 

Said the school's principal, "We don't allow the practice of being playful about actions that imitate dangerous behaviors." 

If you would like to comment on this column send your e-mails to: