- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

Rudy vs. Hillary

Republican presidential contender Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday accused Democratic rivalHillary Rodham Clinton of participating in “character assassination” for questioning Gen. David H. Petraeus about his assessment of progress in Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was one of several Democrats and some Republicans who expressed skepticism with the general’s more positive outlook on Iraq.

Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker told Congress that Iraq remains largely dysfunctional but said violence in recent months had decreased since the influx of 30,000 additional troops earlier this year.

“The reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief,” Mrs. Clinton said Tuesday.

Campaigning in Georgia, Mr. Giuliani assailed Mrs. Clinton for the second straight day and tried to link her to a newspaper ad from the liberal antiwar group MoveOn.org critical of Gen. Petraeus, the Associated Press reports. The ad accused Gen. Petraeus of “cooking the books” for the White House. “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” it asked, playing off his name.

“We believe, unlike Hillary Clinton, that General Petraeus is telling the truth,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Calling the ad abominable, Mr. Giuliani said Mrs. Clinton’s comments followed up on it “in a very, very coincidental way.”

He added, “What I don’t think should happen in political discourse is the kind of character assassination that MoveOn.org participated in in calling him General Betray Us, that the New York Times gave them a discount to do and that Hillary Clinton followed up on with an attack on his integrity.”

He also said, “It is time for Americans to really insist that American politicians move beyond character assassination, and this is exactly what they attempted to do with General Petraeus.”

Fearful Democrats

“In my opinion, the Democratic candidates declined to denounce MoveOn because they fear themselves becoming the victims of a similar onslaught from the radical left,” former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, writes in the New York Post.

“This is a cowardly position, which I hope they will rethink. It takes more than intelligence to be a good or great president. It takes integrity and courage, as well,” Mr. Koch said.

“This is not the only wartime foolishness perpetrated by Democrats. This silence of the Democratic presidential candidates is similar to the damage to the country perpetrated by all but one of the Democratic members of Congress from New York City. They, with the exception of Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, voted against an amendment by Rep. Peter King which will protect passengers boarding planes who in good faith report suspicious activities of other passengers to airline personnel and police.”

Ancient history?

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said yesterday that he doesn’t know enough about efforts by President Bush and Congress to keep Terri Schiavo alive to have an opinion on the right-to-die case that stirred national debate.

Mr. Thompson, campaigning in Florida, was asked in a TV interview whether he thought Congress’ intervention to save the life of the brain-dead woman two years ago was appropriate.

“I can’t pass judgment on it. I know that good people were doing what they thought was best,” Mr. Thompson said. “That’s going back in history. I don’t remember the details of it.”

Congress passed a bill after Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed in March 2005 to allow a federal court to review the case, and Mr. Bush returned from his Texas ranch to sign the bill into law. But a federal judge refused to order the tube reinserted, a decision upheld by a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Mr. Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee who left office in 2003, did say, “Local matters, generally speaking, should be left to the locals. I think Congress has got an awful lot to keep up with.”

McCain’s boost

Gen. David H. Petraeus‘ high-profile report on Iraq is pumping new life intoSen. John McCain’s presidential bid, his backers say, making the Arizona Republican appear prescient and courageous on the campaign’s most vital issue.

Whether the new dynamic in Iraq can salvage Mr. McCain’s troubled campaign is far from certain. But he is wooing voters with a sense of momentum not seen since he drastically reduced his staff and spending two months ago, the Associated Press reports.

From the war’s start, Mr. McCain argued for more troops and was Congress’ most prominent defender of the increase that President Bush announced in January.

This week, Mr. McCain kicked off a “No Surrender” tour of Iowa with a clear “I-told-you-so” message. His allies hope it will give him a new edge over Republican rivals, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney.

“The difference between them and John is that John said it before anybody else, took the heat for saying it, and without him, there would have been no surge,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said in an interview Wednesday.

“Now John is center-stage next week beating back political efforts to undercut the surge,” said Mr. Graham, a longtime McCain supporter. “He will be standing with generals in the field against would-be political generals.”

Laugh out loud

“We were bemused yesterday when we saw a promo on the CNN Web site that said: ‘While politicians and the White House debate the war, Anderson Cooper is in Iraq, keeping them honest,’ ” Andrea Billups writes in her “They said it” blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“No offense to Mr. Cooper, who seems like a totally hardworking chap, but while he’s over there slipping on the perfectly weathered Levis, his pastel-colored Prada shirt and chicly rugged Varvatos boots, a crew of overworked producers are dodging bullets, weathering the heat and working their tails off so Anderson can look like he’s ‘keeping politicians honest.’

“AS IF.

“We were also laughing out loud in our pink news lair yesterday upon learning how the John Edwards campaign is offering supporters a chance to win a contest to rebuild homes in Katrina-damaged Louisiana. We thought anyone could just go down and volunteer. Who knew you needed John Edwards to put you in the charity loop? And, you don’t have to give money to be entered to win. WHAT A GUY! Political genius.”

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

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