- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

‘Ridiculous’ rumors

When 3-year-old Sophia Parlock’s crying face became nationally famous Thursday, some Democrats charged that it was part of a hoax.

Photographs of a West Virginia campaign rally showed a man holding pieces of the crying girl’s Bush-Cheney sign, after her father said Democrats had torn the sign apart. The man was wearing a T-shirt identifying himself as a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

But on DemocraticUnderground.com and other Internet sites, some Democrats said that the man in the photo was actually the girl’s older brother.

“Ridiculous,” Sophia’s father, Phil Parlock, said of the hoax rumors. Huntington, W.Va., photographer Randy Snyder — who took the photos on assignment from Associated Press — also said the man in the IUPAT shirt was not Mr. Parlock’s son.

“The guy was cussing [Mr. Parlock]. … I thought they were going to come to blows,” said Mr. Snyder, who said he was familiar with the Parlock family from years of covering political events in the Huntington area.

State lawmaker Kelli Sobonya, a Republican from the same town as the Parlocks, who says she has known the family for years, said the man in the union shirt is “definitely not” Mr. Parlock’s son.

On Friday, IUPAT’s president, James A. Wilson, issued this statement: “What happened in Huntington, W.Va., yesterday is an affront to everything we, as a union, pride ourselves to represent. We extend our apologies to the Parlock family, especially Sophia, for the distress one of our overzealous members caused them.” IUPAT spokesman Gavin McDonald says the union will conduct a “step-by-step, thorough” investigation of the incident.

Another fact that roused Democrats’ suspicion of Mr. Parlock was news reports that he had been roughed up under similar conditions at Democratic campaign events in 1996 and 2000.

“There is a consistency, in that I’m quiet, I have signs, I raise my signs, I get pummeled,” Mr. Parlock told the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail.

Kerry’s ad

Democratic Sen. John Kerry links the cost of the Iraq war to problems at home and vows in a new television ad to both “defend America and fight for the middle class.”

“Two hundred billion dollars. That’s what we are spending in Iraq because George Bush chose to go it alone,” Mr. Kerry says in the ad, to start airing today in 13 competitive states where he is on the air. “Now the president tells us we don’t have the resources to take care of health care and education here at home. That’s wrong.”

Suggesting that Mr. Bush ignored domestic ills while focusing on the war abroad, Mr. Kerry says: “As president, I’ll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us. But I’ll also fight to build a stronger middle class.”

The $200 billion estimate reflects the campaign’s calculation of funds already spent on combat and reconstruction in Iraq, and money anticipated to be spent through next summer, based on congressional reports. The war has cost about $120 billion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Mr. Bush has never said there’s no money for education or health care, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Kerry’s campaign bases the claim on its interpretation of Mr. Bush’s budget proposals for education and reports of rising health care premiums.

The real problem

“Contrary to popular opinion, John Kerry’s problems are not all about his lack of response to the anti-Kerry Swifties in August,” Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News & World Report.

“Sure, he should have called a press conference and fought back. Americans like leaders who fight back. (He really wanted to fight, some tell me, but his campaign worried about going too negative. Last time I checked, Kerry was the nominee, but never mind.) The real problem is deeper: John Kerry is not making the case for himself to voters who don’t like [President] Bush but haven’t jumped yet.

“‘Sure, anti-Bush feelings are strong,’ says one top Democratic strategist. ‘But the idea that it’s enough to get him across the finish line is fanciful.’ It got him through the primaries (remember, Kerry was the ‘electable’ one), but in general elections voters look for real reasons to fire incumbents.”

Pick a state

Lawrence Caplan, a tax and corporate lawyer, has founded “Operation: Snowbird,” an Internet tool designed to make a difference in the presidential election — if Democratic voters in New York and New Jersey respond to it, Cox News Service reports.

All they have to do, according to Mr. Caplan’s www.operationsnowbird.com Web site, is switch their registrations to Florida, where their votes are more likely to be needed by Democratic Sen. John Kerry than in the deep “blue” states up north.

New York went for Al Gore by more than 1.7 million votes, while the official margin for Bush-Cheney in Florida was 537. If only 600 of the 2.2 million votes cast for the Democratic ticket in New York had been cast in Florida, according to the Snowbird site, the state’s electoral votes and the presidency would have gone to Mr. Gore.

“We don’t know how close this election is going to be,” Mr. Caplan said. “If we get 10,000 people to switch, it’s worth it.”

But they’d better heed the instructions on the Web site, because Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood is on the warpath over a New York newspaper’s claim last month that at least 46,000 New York City dwellers are registered both there and in Florida, and some have been voting in both places. That’s voter fraud, a federal crime with a fine of $10,000 and up to five years in prison.

The Florida official has asked the FBI and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to investigate the charges and advise the state Division of Elections how to deal with the problem of multiple registrations.

Befuddled liberals

Michael Lerner, the radical San Francisco rabbi credited with inspiring Hillary Rodham Clinton’s famous 1993 “politics of meaning” speech, says liberals need to be proud of their liberalism.

“It’s easy to denounce Sen. John Kerry’s inconsistencies and waffling about the war,” Mr. Lerner writes in the Los Angeles Daily News. “Certainly his statement that he would still have voted in favor of an intervention, even knowing what he knows now, has made it impossible for him to consistently represent the perspective of the American majority who think the war was a mistake. Yet the problem goes deeper — to the heart of the opportunism which continues to befuddle America’s liberal forces. …

“Ask most Democrats … and they tell you that deep down they believe or hope that Kerry doesn’t really believe what he is saying, that he’ll do something different once elected. Well, if the best that his own supporters can say is that they hope that their candidate is a lying opportunist on these critical issues, they have trouble answering the Republican charge that he can’t be trusted because of opportunistic flip-flopping. …

“Turns out that standing for one’s own ideals is far more realistic than trying to cater one’s views to what the media tell us everyone else is for.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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