- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Kerry’s war

Suffice it to say that Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry has made “Iraqgate” the theme of his campaign.

On virtually every stump he’s stood on this week, the Massachusetts Democrat has complained that President Bush sidestepped the congressionally approved path to war by bypassing the United Nations, by not building an international coalition, and simply by not doing what it was that he had promised to do (actually, one could argue that the senator is wrong on all three counts).

Forget that Mr. Kerry voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution. He did so, he now says, with the understanding that Mr. Bush would exhaust every remedy first. What was the big hurry, in other words.

But let’s revisit Nov. 17, 1997, when nobody else in Washington except the Inside the Beltway column led with an item headlined, “Finish the mission.”

“Debate on whether to take out Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi strongman, is over as far as one Democratic senator is concerned,” or so we had written.

“Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts is calling for a ‘strong’ military attack in response to the Iraqi leader’s ‘horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.’”

Weapons of mass destruction? That’s what Mr. Kerry called them.

“As the senator points out, military might is the only language Saddam knows — and fears. ‘Saddam Hussein should pay a grave price, in a currency that he understands and values, for his unacceptable behavior,’ says Mr. Kerry. ‘This should not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed symbolic value. But how long this military action might continue and how it may escalate … and how extensive it would reach are for the [White House National] Security Council and our allies to know and for Saddam Hussein to find out!’”

Just as you wished, Senator.

Baptizing Bork

Congratulations to Robert Bork, the former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and one-time nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, who was baptized and received the sacraments of the Catholic Church on Monday evening in Washington.

This columnist has written many times about Judge Bork over the years, perhaps my favorite anecdote surrounding his address to the University of Virginia Law School alumni luncheon at the Army-Navy Club.

“Remember, I taught Bill and Hillary Clinton when they were at Yale,” said Judge Bork. “Let me rephrase that. Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the room when I was teaching at Yale.”

Even the Democratic lawyers in the room erupted in laughter.

No Ma Barker

Speaking of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the giant online auction house EBay has banned a satirical T-shirt that links the former first lady to Osama bin Laden.

The 100 percent cotton, preshrunk, fade-resistant “Osama bin Rodham” shirt combines the names and likenesses of Mrs. Clinton and al Qaeda leader bin Laden. The shirt designer suggests that Mrs. Clinton’s “paranoid ramblings” about a vast right-wing conspiracy were “eerily reminiscent of Osama’s anti-American ravings.”

“The item you have listed does not appear to be consistent with EBay guidelines,” reads the July 14, 2003, notice to the St. Louis, Mo., shirt maker. “In accordance with our Offensive Items Policy,” the notice continues, EBay may “remove listings of items closely associated with individuals notorious for committing murderous acts.”

Going Hollywood

In what could be a Beltway first, a book by a Washington think tank scholar is being made into a major Hollywood film.

The lucky analyst is James L. Swanson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and editor in chief of the annual Cato Supreme Court Review. And no, it’s not the conservative makeup of the court that Hollywood is interested in this time.

Instead, Disney, partnering with Walden Media, will turn Mr. Swanson’s forthcoming nonfiction thriller, “Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers,” into a high-profile motion picture. The book attracted Hollywood’s attention after William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, beat out Miramax Books in an intense bidding war.

The story, says Mr. Swanson, focuses on “John Wilkes Booth’s terrorist conspiracy to topple the government at the close of the Civil War by assassinating Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, the secretary of state, and General [Ulysses S.] Grant, and on the nationwide pursuit for the hypnotic actor and his strange band of mesmerized followers.”

At the Washington-based Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, where Mr. Swanson serves on the advisory committee, executive director Michael Bishop said: “This is great news. I hope that much of the film will be made here on location, where many of the Lincoln sites still stand.”


“Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter: 67”

Harper’s Index, July 2003

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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