- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Apes and mules

Al-Watan, an Arabic-language national weekly Arab-American newspaper published in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, considers its mission to maintain "a positive relationship" with the U.S. community at large.

However, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an independent organization in the District of Columbia that provides translations of Middle East publications and media, isn't so sure.

"Recently, Al-Watan published a series of poems titled, 'Yes, I Am A Terrorist' and 'The Ape,' which was accompanied by an image of President George W. Bush together with one of a howling chimpanzee," MEMRI reveals. "The poem depicts Bush as an ape worshiped by some Arab leaders."

As translated by MEMRI, here are a few lines from each poem. We'll start with the "Terrorist," penned by Ahmad Matar:

They have destroyed my world

Let them reap what they have sown.

If on my lips and in the cells of my blood

The globalization of destruction has borne fruit

Here I say it. I write, I draw it

I imprint it upon the forehead of the West

with my wooden shoe

Yes, I am a terrorist!

And, in the words of author Nasir Thabet, here's what the Bush ape says:

Death to the children of Palestine,

Death to you, all the Arabs of the world.

You should be like mules kicking with joy.

Your honor is cheaper than a can of sardines.

O Arabs of the world,

When [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon spits on you

He is the wronged one,

And you despite your feebleness you are 'terrorists.'

Powell's the ticket

President Bush could be the answer to attracting black Americans into the conservative fold.

"George W. Bush, despite his notable failure to win black votes in 2000, could be the pivotal figure in returning a sizable number of black voters to the party of Lincoln," author Jeremy D. Mayer writes in his upcoming book, "Running on Race: Racial Politics in Presidential Campaigns 1960-2000" (Random House, $26.95).

We'll skip past campaigns (including what the author calls Bill Clinton's ability to "manipulate" racial politics to his advantage) and look to 2004 and beyond. Which for Al Gore, granted he makes another stab at the White House, means courting black voters like he never has before.

"Gore, like Clinton, was a New Democrat, but unlike Clinton, Gore never had a reservoir of good feeling in the black community," says Mr. Mayer, a visiting government professor at Georgetown.

In fact, Mr. Gore "had been far from the first choice of black leaders in 1992 when Clinton put him on the ticket." (During eight years as vice president, Mr. Gore tried to woo black leaders; however, his Reinventing Government initiative hurt his cause by advocating an end to affirmative action in federal procurement contracts.)

As for our current president, the "razor-thin margin of Bush's victory will force Republican strategists in 2004 to compete for black votes as they have not since 1960," says the author. "The early signs are that Bush intends to try to heal the deep racial wounds of the 2000 campaign." (He actually started days after his tortuous victory, inviting D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams to be his first White House guest, hosting an unprecedented meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, and even phoning the sex-scandalized Rev. Jesse Jackson to express his support.)

"One cannot imagine any previous Republican president making a similar call to Jackson," Mr. Mayer notes.

To win black support above the "anemic 8 percent" he tallied in 2000, Mr. Bush has barely a few options, like an appealing high-profile policy like combating racial profiling or a strong defense of affirmative action. But the president's best bet?

"The only other hope for Bush to steal a sizable fraction of the black vote from the Democrats in 2004 would be running with a black vice presidential nominee," Mr. Mayer writes, adding the "obvious candidate" is Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

"The exuberance and enthusiasm of the Jewish community in response to the nomination of Joseph Lieberman in 2000," says the author, "was as nothing compared to the excitement that would be produced by the major party nomination of a black for the second highest office in the land."

Gore vs. Lieberman

Unsuspecting media types, now including yours truly, are held accountable for their oracular pronouncements at the Web site www.politicalpredictions.org.

"This column will go on record and predict that [Al] Gore will make a third run for the presidency," we'd written early last month, earning a place among veteran "prophets" like Eleanor Clift, Cokie Roberts and John McLaughlin.

Still, reading one of the latest pronouncements, this column's prophesy has been greatly upstaged by Howard Fineman of Newsweek: "I think in the end [Joseph I.] Lieberman will run even if Gore does."

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