- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

Just a coincidence?

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but historian Douglas Brinkley’s new book, “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War,” is scheduled to hit bookstores in January — just in time for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

The December issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which arrived in this columnist’s mailbox Saturday, has a picture of the young Lt. Kerry on it cover and contains an excerpt from the book.

The excerpt includes many selections from the young Mr. Kerry’s letters to family and friends and from notes he kept while serving in Vietnam. They show a man who is disillusioned by the brutality of war and the moral ambiguities of commanding a riverboat in a free-fire zone.

The Massachusetts senator, who as a Democratic presidential candidate rarely passes up an opportunity to mention his service in Vietnam, may be wishing that Mr. Brinkley could have finished the book a few months earlier, before rival Howard Dean surged to the front of the presidential pack.

Dean’s new fans?

“Vermonter Howard Dean’s grab for the redneck vote has won him just the kind of support he doesn’t want: white supremacists,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“The Council of Conservative Citizens has put an open letter of support for Dean on its Web page, next to the Confederate flag Dean cited — then denounced — when airing plans to go after white guys who display the rebel emblem on pickup trucks,” Mr. Bedard wrote.

“‘We wish to commend you,’ says CCC Prez Tom Dover. Recall that talks by Sen. Trent Lott to the group helped end his reign as majority leader as Republicans ducked racism charges.”

One man’s pork

“After years of crusading against ‘pork-barrel’ spending projects in Congressional appropriations bills, Sen. John McCain [Arizona Republican] may be breaking his own rules,” Roll Call reports.

“McCain pushed for, and got, $14.3 million for Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base inserted into the just-completed fiscal 2004 military construction appropriations conference report,” reporter Emily Pierce said.

“The only problem is the project to acquire more land near the base was not requested by President Bush or fully authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee — two of McCain’s criteria for identifying so-called ‘pork.’ …

“Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who has bitterly fought McCain’s repeated attempts to strike even the smallest of pork projects during Senate floor debate on appropriations, was blithe about the news that McCain had secured an earmark for his own state.

“‘One man’s pork is another man’s alternate white meat,’ said Stevens. ‘We don’t discriminate. … If he asked for it, we put it in.’

“McCain defended his actions, saying he first sought authorization for the measure in the fiscal 2004 Defense Department authorization bill.

“‘The fact that the appropriations bill may [be sent to the president] before the authorization bill is not relevant to my point of view, because we did the authorization before we did the appropriations bill,’ Mr. McCain said of the order the bills came to the Senate floor.”

He added: “It was my job to get it authorized. So I had no involvement after that.”

Nader’s retort

Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader called Democrats “chronic whiners” for continuing to accuse him of spoiling the 2000 election for Al Gore.

“They should realize that the retrospect on Florida concluded Gore won Florida,” the consumer activist told the Wisconsin State Journal on Saturday. “It was stolen from the Democrats. And they should concentrate on the thieves and the blunderers in Florida, not on the Green Party.”

President Bush won Florida, and thus the White House, by 537 votes out of more than 6 million cast. A media-sponsored “recount” showed that Mr. Bush would have won under almost any scenario.

Mr. Nader, in Madison for a speech at the National Conference on Media Reform at the University of Wisconsin, said that 300,000 registered Democrats in Florida voted for Mr. Bush.

“I think the Democrats can be fairly charged with chronic whining, and they ought to look at themselves first and foremost,” Mr. Nader said.

During his speech, Mr. Nader reiterated that he would decide by the end of this year if he’s running for the White House in 2004, the Associated Press reports.

Generous red states

“In news sure to depress those for whom Republican stinginess and antipathy for the less fortunate is an article of faith, the Massachusetts Catalogue for Philanthropy has just released its Generosity Index 2003, which ranks states not just by how much their residents give per capita but also by how much they give relative to what they earn,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“As OpinionJournal.com reader Gabriel Openshaw pointed out to us, the resulting index shows that the top 20 states all went for George W. Bush in the 2000 election — while 15 of the 20 least generous went for Al Gore. Maybe, he suggests, the difference is that those in red states are more generous with their own money while those in blue states are more likely to be generous with other people’s money.”

Voice of extremism

Aaron McGruder, whose cartoon strip “The Boondocks” is known for its attacks on Republicans, went on the syndicated television show “America’s Black Forum” this past week and denounced National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as a killer.

“I don’t like Condoleezza Rice because she’s a murderer,” Mr. McGruder said, adding, “We can discuss this illegal Iraq war, the slaughtering of innocent people, and because she’s one of the big hawks in this administration, I do not even see why this is a point of contention.”

Syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams reacted angrily.

“You called the national security adviser a murderer, and I don’t think you really meant that,” Mr. Williams said. “I think you should be very careful being in the position that you’re in making that kind of allegation on a national television show.”

Mr. McGruder replied, “I’m not saying she’s not doing her job well. I think it’s the job of these people to go into Third World countries and kill people in large numbers to put forth whatever the agenda is of the administration.”

Clark woos South

New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove asked Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark for his reaction to rival Howard Dean’s comment that he wants to win the votes of “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

Mr. Clark replied: “Well, he shouldn’t have said those things. I think all Americans — and this is a joke! — all Americans, even if they’re from the South and ‘stupid,’ should be represented.”

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

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