- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Levin raps Dean

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, has criticized Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean’s “shoot-from-the-hip” criticism of the panel for approving an Army general’s promotion.

“I’m disappointed with Governor Dean’s shoot-from-the-hip reaction, which is full of factual inaccuracies to a tragic, complex incident the committee has conscientiously struggled with for a year,” Mr. Levin said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

Mr. Dean issued a press release Thursday saying he was “greatly disturbed” by the committee’s approval of Maj. Gen. Robert Clark as lieutenant general — the Army’s second-highest rank — and commander of the 5th Army in Houston.

Homosexual rights groups have accused Gen. Clark of mishandling the investigation of the 1999 murder of a private at Fort Campbell, Ky., under Gen. Clark’s command. The Senate committee held up voting during the past year until an Army inspector general’s review exonerated Gen. Clark in the soldier’s death.

Mr. Dean’s statement said Gen. Clark’s “disastrous record” as a commander “raises grave concern.”

The statement had two errors: First, that Gen. Clark was being approved “to serve in the 2nd highest position in the U.S. Army” — that would be the Army’s vice chief of staff — rather than its second-highest rank.

Secondly, Mr. Dean said Gen. Clark “has not even met with the parents” of the dead private, “a young man who was trusted to his command.” Gen. Clark met with the parents for two hours on May 13 in the Pentagon.

Mr. Dean’s organization late last week posted a substitute press release on the campaign’s official Web site, listing Gen. Clark’s correct rank and dropping the inaccurate sentence about not meeting the dead soldier’s parents. It still urges supporters to lobby their senators against the nomination.

Sharpton raps Dean

The Rev. Al Sharpton, after reading that Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. plans to endorse Howard Dean for president, accused Mr. Dean of having an “anti-black agenda.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that Mr. Jackson, an Illinois Democrat and son of the longtime black activist, soon will endorse the Democratic former governor of Vermont.

Mr. Sharpton, in a press release yesterday, seized on a 1995 interview in which Mr. Dean told CNN he thought affirmative action should be based on class, not race.

“Howard Dean’s opposition to affirmative action, his current support for the death penalty and historic support of the [National Rifle Associations] agenda amounts to an anti-black agenda that will not sell in communities of color in this country,” Mr. Sharpton said.

“Any so-called African-American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record is mortgaging the future of our struggle for civil rights and social justice to back a candidate whose record on issues of critical importance to us is no better than that of George W. Bush.”

Clark on warpath

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark said yesterday “there is no way” the Bush administration “can walk away from its responsibilities” for September 11.

“Our great Democratic President Harry Truman said, ‘The buck stops here,’” the retired general told a conference organized by the new liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress. “And when it comes to our nation’s foreign policy, the buck sits on George W. Bush’s desk.”

The CAP — founded by President Clinton’s last chief of staff, John Podesta — says it is a “nonpartisan research and education institute” that wants to develop big-picture, long-term policy thinking.

So some conferees were surprised that Mr. Clark, who declared himself a Democrat just two weeks before launching his campaign last month, was the only of the party’s nine White House hopefuls invited to speak.

Among those surprised was conference speaker and former Clinton White House official Rand Beers, who supports the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Beers appeared not pleased by what turned out to be practically a campaign appearance.

The event organizer told United Press International that the general had been invited in the summer, before he became a candidate, and that “it would have been rude” to disinvite him for the sake of appearing above the electoral fray.

CAP officials insisted that they had intended no endorsement of the Clark campaign. However, two of the other major speakers, former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger and former U.N. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, are close Clark advisers.

Nethercutt’s complaint

Rep. George Nethercutt, Washington Republican, has accused a Seattle newspaper of distorting comments he made to a student group after his recent trip to Iraq.

In ads yesterday, the five-term congressman who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, accused the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of “the equivalent of a negative political commercial” by making him appear “callous to the death of American troops” in a briefing he gave to University of Washington students.

The text of the ad says the newspaper “massacred not only my quote and context” but also “changed the punctuation of what I said.” The ad also accuses the newspaper of refusing to run a correction after Mr. Nethercutt complained, United Press International reports.

The newspaper reported Oct. 14 that Mr. Nethercutt said Iraq’s reconstruction was going better than news reports portrayed it and that he added, “The story of what we’ve done in the postwar period is remarkable. … It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.”

David McCumber, the Post-Intelligencer’s managing editor, said that Mr. Nethercutt “was quoted accurately and in context in our story.” Mr. McCumber added, “That’s the beginning and the end of it as far as I’m concerned.”

Street’s big lead

Philadelphia Mayor John Street has pulled far ahead of his Republican challenger a week before Tuesday’s election, according to a poll released yesterday.

Mr. Street, the Democratic incumbent whose re-election prospects appear to have been helped rather than hurt by a federal corruption probe of City Hall, led Republican Sam Katz 54 percent to 37 percent with 9 percent undecided in a survey released by CBS affiliate KYW-TV and KYW News Radio.

The poll of 511 persons, conducted by Temple University, had a margin of error of four percentage points, Reuters reports.

Clark’s health plan

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark waded into the health care debate yesterday with a $695 billion, 10-year plan to guarantee health care coverage for children and expand access for uninsured adults.

In the latest in a series of speeches designed to flesh out his sketchy policy stands, Mr. Clark proposed a series of tax credits to help make insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families and ensure coverage for everyone through the age of 22.

Most of the nine Democrats seeking to unseat President Bush in 2004 have released detailed health care plans, and Mr. Clark echoed Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina by focusing on requiring coverage for children.

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

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