- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

John as Bill

Uh oh: Will the wily ways of former President Bill Clinton resurface in a Tarheel? There is much ado about presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat described by the press as a "bold guy in a hurry," with mixed attributes.

"He is creating a buzz in early stages of the 2004 race, as a Southerner with a Clintonlike ability to connect with the folks but without the messiness of the former president's life," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

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"Edwards is acutely aware of this selling point. He talked, in an interview, about the usually-Democratic voters lower-middle-income people in such states as Missouri, West Virginia and Tennessee whose defection cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000."

The former trial lawyer upset Republican Sen. Lauch Faircloth but "dares Republicans to rev up their anti-trial lawyer rhetoric against him." Mr. Edwards called the Bush administration's decision to hold enemy combatants in the war on terrorism "a source of shame," among other things.

"Edwards is also versatile in the Clinton fashion. The old Clinton themes are there, the references to 'regular folks' who have 'played by the rules and were hurt by people who didn't play by the rules.'"

Talking points redux

Who owns that familiar pundit term "talking points"? Former American Prospect magazine editor Josh Marshall is piqued at The Washington Post's Terry M. Neal for filching "Talking Points," the title of an online column Mr. Marshall has written for several years at his Web site (www.talkingpointsmemo.com).

But it's gotten more baroque than that, notes Alan Schwartz, who owns the Web site www.talkingpoints.com.

"Neither Mr. Marshall, Mr. Neal nor I owns the copyright to the term 'talking points.' If one of us did he might think about sending a nasty note to every Hill staffer who daily prepares something called that, to say nothing of the lobbyists, PR folks and others," Mr. Schwartz wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

"That alone could keep the trial lawyers in business. Who knows where the term originated, but not with any of us. Mr. Marshall can tweak Mr. Neal all he wants, but it is tweaking only. Can't Mr. Marshall change the name of his column to the 'Washington Redskins'? I hear that might be available soon," Mr. Schwartz concluded.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, pointed out yesterday that Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has used the term on his show since 1998. "It's ridiculous that Marshall attacks Neal but not O'Reilly, who stole Marshall's idea at least two years before Marshall even thought of it."

Boring Bob

His allies believe that the woes of Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, have bottomed out. He has "sustained public criticism and dismal poll results and has nowhere to go but up," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday.

"Republican opponents, however, say Torricelli hasn't seen anything yet. Once Senate candidate Douglas Forrester launches his barrage of TV ads highlighting the ethics controversy, Torricelli will continue losing support, and voters will be ready to cast him out of office after only one term."

Mr. Torricelli, who has left on a five-day "fact-finding" mission to Israel, spent $2 million on a TV spot that apologizes to voters but is yielding few results.

"I think he's trying to bore everyone with it, to help the critical stories go through their normal cycle so he can come back and accuse Forrester in September and October of bringing up old news," one political analyst told the Inquirer.

East Coast elites

Los Angeles Times writer Peter King deconstructed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's 1995 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "No Ordinary Time," to find "nearly three dozen instances where phrases and sentences in Goodwin's book resembled the words of other authors."

Slate columnist Mickey Kaus can't figure out why nobody is upset by a story that "knocks one of the remaining props out from under Goodwin's defense" that plagiarism charges against her are unwarranted.

"Why hasn't Goodwin been destroyed by King's piece? I blame his editors, who buried their scoop under dozens of inches of calm, fair profiling (and under a stupefyingly tedious headline)," Mr. Kaus reasoned. "If you're Bob Woodward, readers might hunt through your wordy prose looking for the dirt. You can't count on that if your paper is the fourth or fifth read of the East Coast elites."

Reich fans

Editor & Publisher frets that the press is making unethical political donations.

"Journalists at the Boston Globe, WGBH public radio in Boston, the Associated Press, the New Yorker, Chicago magazine, and KCET-TV in Los Angeles all gave money to former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich's campaign for governor of Massachusetts," E&P noted yesterday.

There was no "meaningful outcry," said Bill Allison of the Center for Public Integrity. "There was no outrage, because people expect reporters to do these kind of things. It's a sign of the low ethical standards that we have to put up with these days."

"Journalists who contribute to political campaigns won't be incarcerated in ethical prisons for crossing the line that separates Them from Us," E&P observed. "But the candidate who gets the money feels the reporter is in his pocket. The candidate who didn't get the money is sure of it. And the readers won't believe a word of the political news they're getting."

Rally 'round Mauldin

Those who revere World War II combat cartoonist Bill Mauldin, listen up: The Pulitzer Prize-winning political and editorial artist is in trouble. Mr. Mauldin, now 80, was severely burned in a household accident and is confined to a nursing home, where his health and spirits are on the decline.

Gordon Dillow, a reporter with the Orange County Register, is volunteering to take cards and greetings to Mr. Mauldin at his nursing home. World War II vets and families are particularly welcome.

Send goodwill messages to Bill Mauldin, in care of Gordon Dillow at the Orange County Register, 625 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701. Potential visitors may contact Mr. Dillow at [email protected]

Random acts

President Bush's economic summit at Baylor University today has the protection of the Secret Service, Waco and Baylor police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department.

They'll be monitoring 1960s-style protesters from the San Antonio-based Texas Enron Accountability Campaign and other groups, confined to a demonstration area off campus to curb any temptations to riot. They call it an effort "to silence protest in favor of a pro-corporate event."

The police are ready to employ a philosophy of President George Bush, however.

"If they come onto campus, we will apply former President Bush's policy and practice random acts of kindness, and we will very graciously ask them to leave," Baylor's police chief told the Waco Tribune-Herald yesterday. "But if we have to, we will remove them from campus."

Cut a rug

It's "tip of the toupee" in Cleveland tomorrow. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers will celebrate Jim Traficant Night, offering free baseball game admission to fans with toupees or those who say they are "a son of a truck driver," as the former congressman once did.

The team is offering "Free Jim" T-shirts and "Free Traficant photo-face card (if you poke out Jim's eyeballs)," the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, as part of the team's gratitude for "attracting the franchise to the Mahoning Valley" in the first place.

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