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Just a coincidence?

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but historian Douglas Brinkley’s new book, “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War,” is scheduled to hit bookstores in January — just in time for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

The December issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which arrived in this columnist’s mailbox Saturday, has a picture of the young Lt. Kerry on it cover and contains an excerpt from the book.

The excerpt includes many selections from the young Mr. Kerry’s letters to family and friends and from notes he kept while serving in Vietnam. They show a man who is disillusioned by the brutality of war and the moral ambiguities of commanding a riverboat in a free-fire zone.

The Massachusetts senator, who as a Democratic presidential candidate rarely passes up an opportunity to mention his service in Vietnam, may be wishing that Mr. Brinkley could have finished the book a few months earlier, before rival Howard Dean surged to the front of the presidential pack.

Dean’s new fans?

“Vermonter Howard Dean’s grab for the redneck vote has won him just the kind of support he doesn’t want: white supremacists,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“The Council of Conservative Citizens has put an open letter of support for Dean on its Web page, next to the Confederate flag Dean cited — then denounced — when airing plans to go after white guys who display the rebel emblem on pickup trucks,” Mr. Bedard wrote.

“‘We wish to commend you,’ says CCC Prez Tom Dover. Recall that talks by Sen. Trent Lott to the group helped end his reign as majority leader as Republicans ducked racism charges.”

One man’s pork

“After years of crusading against ‘pork-barrel’ spending projects in Congressional appropriations bills, Sen. John McCain [Arizona Republican] may be breaking his own rules,” Roll Call reports.

“McCain pushed for, and got, $14.3 million for Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base inserted into the just-completed fiscal 2004 military construction appropriations conference report,” reporter Emily Pierce said.

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