ALEX CHADWICK, host:
From NPR West and Slate magazine online, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
Coming up, in California a political complication for Governor Arnold, who is not used to being overlooked.
First, the lead: a political roundup. President Bush is now on his way to Russia to spend a part of the weekend with his sometime political friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin. He spent part of the week promoting his plan to change the Social Security program. On Capitol Hill, Congress moved forward on giving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay a full hearing on ethical charges and also talked about driver's licenses. NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams is back with us--a regular Friday guest.
Juan, on Monday, Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin will be in Red Square to commemorate Russia's role in winning World War II, but I guess there are some political concerns in Washington about this inevitable image of these two presidents side-by-side on the reviewing stand watching all these Russian troops march past.
JUAN WILLIAMS reporting:
Well, there really is, Alex. There's tremendous concern that somehow what you have is President Bush going there at a time when there is there some tension between the US and Putin over some of the steps that Putin has taken to control his parliament. As you know, he's now taken a step of eliminating direct elections of parliamentary officials. He's appointing the regional governors. He's eliminated many of these independent broadcast media in the country. But what you have is a concern that somehow Mr. Bush would be going there and seem to be participating in some celebration of a new Stalinism, if you will, in which Putin is Stalin-reincarnate.
CHADWICK: OK for the overseas trip--now back to domestic politics. There will finally be an investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay by the House Ethics Committee. But we learned this week, also, that accepting paid travel and forgetting whether you declared it is a bipartisan phenomenon. It may come back to haunt Democrats and the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.
WILLIAMS: Oh, it certainly may. And, you know, in many cases it has to do with simple things like who paid for a travel--corporate jets, in some cases who paid for trips overseas. But in the case of Pelosi and the Democrats, they are now being subjected to a backlash by Republicans who said that Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, was being subjected to a double standard, that, in fact, these kinds of trips and courtesies have been extended to Democrats and they have not been subjected to any ethics investigation. At the same time, you have lots of people who are pointing fingers at Jack Abramoff, and Abramoff extended these courtesies as part of his lobbying operation here in Washington across the political aisle, Alex. So all of a sudden you have people looking at everybody involved and saying that this reminds them in some way of sort of the House banking scandal of more than 10 years ago that forced the retirement of lots of--dozens of lawmakers, and it led to many of their defeats. So the scandal seems to be spreading, although it still is centered very much on Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.
CHADWICK: How about the business in the House this week of voting on these real IDs--tougher national standards for a driver's license? Any potential for a backlash here in the election coming next year, do you think, for voter groups loyal to the Republicans?
WILLIAMS: Well, for voter groups loyal to the Republicans it seems less an issue because what you have is a sense that this is a response to 9/11 and the idea that we live in an age of terror and that there is a need for ID. But essentially what you're having here is pressure being put on the states to get documentation to prove that the person is an American and is at--living at X address and has a birth certificate and all the rest. And the question is, who's going to pay for all that? But secondly, why should we have a national ID card? Does that lead to more federal control? And, you know, the typical Republican mantra is `less government.' So in that sense, Alex, it does create a rub for many--especially, I think, some of the principal conservatives on the right.
CHADWICK: NPR senior correspondent and regular DAY TO DAY contributor Juan Williams. Thank you, Juan.
WILLIAMS: My pleasure, Alex.
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