- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003

The Post’s turkey

The Washington Post’s attempt yesterday to question President Bush’s credibility because he brandished a “Norman Rockwell”-style turkey platter not meant for the troops’ table during his visit to Iraq last week has inspired some swift heartland wisdom.

These comments from three irate Americans are from the online news site Instapundit (www.instapundit.com):

• “I am SICK AND TIRED of the superficial nature of their reporting on Iraq and their incessant preaching of quagmirism. I am SICK AND TIRED of their efforts to turn every U.S. military action into Vietnam. And I am SICK AND TIRED of 16-words-gate and Plame-gate and mission-accomplished-gate and now, God help us, turkey-gate.”

• “I cannot believe this fabricated ‘flap’ about Bush and the turkey … I guess in the long run conservatives come out on top in such situations, but it is painful to watch people self-destruct, even people with whom I profoundly disagree. I swear, I think Karl Rove must pay people to drum up stories like this. Or would that be to drumstick?”

• “This turkey business is ludicrous. I’ve eaten in mess halls at Thanksgiving in my nine years in the Army and I have always seen a fancy turkey that was for display and not for consumption. Like the cornucopias and every other festive trimming, the ‘show turkey’ is a routine part of the presentation for the soldiers eating in the mess hall.”

McClellan replies

Some were hoping for an Air Force One-gate as well.

Journalists badgered White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan yesterday about an incident involving the sighting of Air Force One by an unidentified British pilot during the president’s trip to Iraq.

Persistent reporters wondered whether administration officials had “misled the American people” and told “a white lie” after spokesmen offered two versions of the story to an incredulous press in the days that followed.

“I take exception with the premise of the question that you’re asking, I strongly do,” Mr. McClellan responded, ignoring implications that President Bush’s visit was simply an elaborate photo-op.

“He is the commander in chief. He has to make difficult decisions on behalf of the country and making the country and the world a better and safer place,” Mr. McClellan said. “And, as commander in chief, he took this responsibility very seriously, and he was pleased to go there and spend Thanksgiving dinner with some of our troops in Baghdad, and to express the gratitude of the nation for all that they’re doing to make America more secure.”

Wesley takes license

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark — who stopped in at the District’s chichi Club 1223 last night with rock group Better Than Ezra — has D.C. voters in his sights.

“It is fundamentally unfair that the citizens of our nation’s capital have no vote in Congress. As president, I will work closely with Mayor Anthony Williams and the people of the District to achieve full voting rights and real home rule,” Mr. Clark said.

The retired Army general envisions himself a resident.

“As a first step, I will immediately ask Congress to restore the vote to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. I will also ensure that the District receives the funding it deserves,” Mr. Clark said. “If elected, the District will have a friend in the White House. My car will proudly display the D.C. license plate, which protests ‘taxation without representation.’ ”

Dean triumphing

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean is trouncing his rivals: the former Vermont governor’s approval ratings stand at 42 percent, according to a Zogby poll released yesterday — 30 percentage points ahead of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Wesley Clark was at 9 percent and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut at 7 percent. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was at 4 percent, followed by Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt at 3 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich at 2 percent.

Still, 19 percent of the voters were undecided. The poll of 503 voters was conducted Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. Incidentally, the Iowa caucus is a mere 47 days away.

Inside the horse race

Meanwhile, pollster John Zogby weighed in on the Democrats Tuesday night during an appearance in Utica, N.Y.

“Howard Dean rode on an issue. The drumbeat of going to war with Iraq. ‘I oppose the war, I’m for the little guy.’ ” Mr. Zogby observed.

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri could overtake Mr. Dean, Mr. Zogby said, if he wins in Iowa and places third or better in the New Hampshire primary.

Mr. Zogby thinks Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts is brilliant — maybe too brilliant.

“To run a successful campaign on the presidential level, you have to be able to relate your message on a bumper sticker,” Mr. Zogby said. “He looks Lincolnesque, he looks like a president. But it’s hard to see a Kerry scenario.”

Clinton vs. Franken?

Liberals collide: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is going head-to-head against pundit Al Franken for a Grammy. The New York Democrat was nominated yesterday for the audio version of her autobiography “Living History.” Talk show host Bill Maher also was nominated.

“That’s tough competition,” said Mrs. Clinton, noting that former President Bill Clinton also was nominated for a recorded book he made with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and actress Sophia Loren.

“I’m glad he’s not my competition,” she said, noting that recording a book is “very, very hard work. It’s done so precisely, you have to be careful about breathing too hard.”


The skies just got a little friendlier for political candidates. The Federal Election Commission decided yesterday to can a rule that requires candidates to pay companies or unions on the spot for use of their aircraft.

They now have a week to pay up, whether it’s a commercial carrier or even Air Force One and other government planes. But things get mighty complicated.

“If the campaign flight is on a plane owned by an individual or political action committee, the candidate could treat the travel as an in-kind contribution to the campaign, as long as the value didn’t exceed the donation limits of $2,000 for individual donors and $5,000 for PACs per election,” the Associated Press noted yesterday.

Democrats’ choice

With Republicans controlling the White House, both houses of Congress and a majority of governorships, Democrats are languishing. Mary Meehan thinks she knows why.

“In the 1970s, there was major opposition to abortion within the Democratic Party — even after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In 1977, for example, the right-to-life movement could count on 10-20 Democratic votes in the Senate and over 100 in the House,” Miss Meehan writes in Human Life Review.

“It is a great irony that Democrats supported the killing of scores of unborn children who would have grown up to be Democrats,” she continued. “This may explain some of the difficulty Democrats are having in winning elections today.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085.

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