- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

The Dowd dude

In a column recounting her family Thanksgiving, the oft-private New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd revealed an e-mail sent to her by her brother Kevin Dowd — an ideologically opposed sibling who lives in Maryland.

“I breathe a huge sigh of relief and rejoice in the common sense of the American voting public. Congratulations to President Bush for winning re-election in a poker game played with a stacked deck,” Mr. Dowd wrote. “No candidate, including Richard Nixon, ever had to endure the biased and unfair tactics of our major media in their attempt to influence the outcome of an election. … He never complained, just systematically set about delivering the same consistent message. You may remember that four years ago, I felt physically ill watching the Democrats try to legislate their way to the presidency.”

He continued, “A very big thank you to Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Rob Reiner, Bill Maher, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Al Franken and Jon Stewart for your involvement. You certainly energized the base. Now, please have the courage of your convictions and leave the country.”

Leftover Rice?

When will hearings begin to replace Secretary of State Colin L. Powell with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice?

Fox News’ Chris Wallace posed the question to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Not scheduled as yet. I had suggested a very early time. The White House suggested that that would not be appropriate — that is, in December,” Mr. Lugar replied. “So we’ll not be having hearings in December. But we’ll have hearings as soon as possible in January.

“But, you know, this is an evolving situation,” he added. “The administration is going to have to think through Iran, a lot of thinking about Iraq and certainly Ukraine and Russia.”

Purse-anomics

So much for broadcaster bellyaching about covering an election: The real numbers are in. Candidates, parties and independent groups spent more than $1.6 billion on their network TV campaigns in 2004, a record for any campaign year and more than double the $771 million spent in 2000, according to just-released figures from the Alliance for Better Campaigns.

Spokeswoman Meredith McGehee characterized the heavy spending as “an enormous election-year windfall for broadcasters, who receive free licenses to operate on the publicly owned airwaves.”

Adds up fine

All right, enough already. There was no voting conspiracy against Sen. John Kerry in Florida.

A Miami Herald review of ballots cast in three northern Florida counties where Democrats outnumber Republicans confirmed yesterday what officials already have reported: The locals wanted a Republican for president.

Reporters perused about 17,000 optical scan ballots cast in three rural counties often cited by doubters: Suwannee, Lafayette and Union. The findings? The counties chose President Bush.

In Union County, for example, the paper counted 3,393 votes for Mr. Bush, 1,272 for Mr. Kerry and 15 that couldn’t be counted. The official Union County total: 3,396 for Mr. Bush, 1,251 for Mr. Kerry and a few dozen that couldn’t be counted.

“People here are mostly fundamentalist Christians who work in the prisons,” county election supervisor Babs Montpetit told the Herald. “Do you think they’re going to vote for the liberal senator from Massachusetts?”

Learning to love

Plenty of Democrats spent their Sunday op-eds warning their angst-ridden peers to clean up their acts — including this one by columnist David Sweet in California’s Santa Cruz Sentinel:

“We’ve got to get serious about being and building a political opposition in this country. To do that we’ve got to learn to take the Republican majority seriously, as fellow citizens and as political opponents.

“Quit passing around stupid jokes about them, thinking of them in caricatures, treating them with contempt, calling them names. … It means seeking every opportunity for honest dialogue with Republicans, even looking for the odd patch of common ground on which we can work together. It means listening carefully and respectfully when they talk and learning what we can about them. As Tom McClintock showed in the recent gubernatorial recall campaign, there is sometimes a thoughtful intelligence and real integrity on the other side of the debate. As Peter Camejo showed, there can be well-reasoned and persuasive arguments, and not just slogans, on our side as well.”

Liberal values

Michael Kinsley, apparently,is not yet ready to make nice.

In a Los Angeles Times editorial yesterday titled “To Hell with Values,” Mr. Kinsley notes, “I’m sick of talking about values, sick of pretending I have them or care more about them than I really do. Sick of bending and twisting the political causes I do care about to make them qualify as ‘values.’ … No doubt there are strategists all over Washington busily reconfiguring their issues to look like values.”

Mr. Kinsley later concludes, “A country whose political dialogue is all about values is either a country with no serious problems or a country hiding from its serious problems. When I want values, I go to Wal-Mart.”

The working bloc

Is the Republican Party “now the party of the workingman?” Rolling Stone magazine asked U.S. News & World Report columnist David Gergen last week.

Yes, he says, “to the degree that the Republican Party is discovering that you can reach out to lower-income working people” who find security in a wartime president.

“The Republicans have learned how to reach out to those people and offer them some anchors — while Democrats find it harder to talk to them in those terms than they did in the past. There are some big shifts going on. The Republicans are not picking up the majority of working people, but they’re picking up significant chunks in rural America who would have voted Democratic twenty years ago. And that, for Democrats, has to be worrisome.”

Rather Russert

Who will replace Dan Rather when he retires from his CBS News anchorman duties in March after 24 years on the job?

It could be NBC’s political talk heavyweight Tim Russert, according to today’s Newsweek magazine, which was privy to a “wish list” circulated at CBS — which aspires to better its last-place ratings among the networks.

Mr. Russert, Newsweek observed, “would have Sunday mornings off for a change.”

NBC, meanwhile, plans to turn the 9/11 commission report into an eight-hour miniseries, according to the New York Times yesterday. The network vows to be tasteful. “We’re not going to turn this into some kind of disaster pic,” one executive told the paper.

Contact Jennifer Harper at 202/636-3085 or jharper@washingtontimes.com

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