- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

Vitriol patrol

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe was openly critical of the White House on the second anniversary of September 11.

In a statement posted yesterday at the DNC Web site, www.democrats.org, Mr. McAuliffe said: “From the bogus statements in the State of the Union, to exaggerated claims about aluminum tubes to the latest revelations about drones, the Bush administration seems to have engaged in a pattern of deception in their manipulation of intelligence.”

The statement continues: “With every story of the Bush administration politicizing intelligence, America loses credibility with the rest of the world.”

According to an account in the Denver Post yesterday, Mr. McAuliffe also told reporters that Mr. Bush made “absolutely ludicrous and insane statements” that endangered U.S. troops in Iraq. He also urged the president to “go tell the parents” of Americans killed in Iraq why it was necessary to say “mission accomplished” when Iraq was not yet secure.

“These harsh, bitter personal attacks are unprecedented in the history of presidential politics,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson. “They continue to seek a new low in presidential discourse.”

Clark sharks

A panoply of Friends-of-Bill can’t wait to sign on to Wesley Clark’s campaign, should he become the 10th hopeful seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

But they may be familiar faces, U.S. News & World Report notes today.

“Democratic elected officials, strategists and donors are ready to join the Clark Brigade. Many of Clark’s team-in-waiting are Clintonistas, like the former president’s handyman, Bruce Lindsey, scandal spokesman Mark Fabiani, and maybe even ex-deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, who’s close to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Also, New York Rep. Charles Rangel has pledged to round up endorsements from House and Senate members.

“And forget about that talk that all the retired four-star general and former NATO boss wants is the veep nomination. Supporters say that’s a dirty-tricks campaign pushed by rival Howard Dean who’s scared of a Clark candidacy,” one source said.

Bill not cooing

Former President Bill Clinton is heading to California to visit Gov. Gray Davis Sunday, but it may not be a happy meeting, noted the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund yesterday.

“Mr. Clinton has become the Democratic Party’s political undertaker, and his visit may foretell the end of Mr. Davis’s political life,” Mr. Fund wrote. “He’s done this kind of dirty work before. He helped push Andrew Cuomo, previously a member of his own Cabinet, out of the race for the Democratic nomination for New York governor last year.”

Mr. Fund observed: “Bob Torricelli also met Clinton the Undertaker” as he tried to convince party leaders he could be re-elected, last year.

In happier days, Mr. Davis “has followed much of Mr. Clinton’s advice on fighting the recall, from denouncing it as a right-wing conspiracy to holding warm-and-fuzzy town hall meetings.”

“But both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton seem to have pulled back from their previous offers to come to California and campaign for Mr. Davis. A visit from Mrs. Clinton was said to be in the works weeks ago, but no plans have jelled. During a recent California stop on her book tour, Mrs. Clinton said that while she opposed the recall she thought it was something that Californians should settle on their own. Mr. Clinton is said to have been miffed at Mr. Davis’s aides for telling the [New York] Times how often the two men were consulting about the recall.”

Give it the brush

California Gov. Gray Davis’ campaign may not be completely in the toilet after all. Mr. Davis has taken a stand against dirty school bathrooms, announcing his support of legislation that makes clean bathrooms a priority in the spending of maintenance funds.

“Clean and working facilities are elements of a well-run school and important to student health,” said Mr. Davis, a fastidious dresser who never has a hair out of place.

“This bill will give districts additional flexibility to use deferred maintenance funds to keep school restrooms clean,” he said, according to Reuters.

Assemblyman Fabian Nunez, who wrote the “Clean School Bathroom Bill,” conceded his measure had no enforcement mechanism, but threatened a tougher bill in the future unless schools crack down on unsanitary bathrooms.

Feathered friends

Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wants the KFC fried chicken chain to require more humane treatment and slaughter of poultry by its suppliers.

“I am disappointed to learn from my friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that KFC has yet to eliminate some of the most egregious cruelty to chickens in the industry,” Mr. Mfume wrote in a Sept. 10 letter to Yum, KFC’s parent company.

Mr. Mfume wants KFC to conduct “humane gas killing,” the Associated Press reports.

Yum, however, thinks something unsavory may be afoot.

“We believe Mr. Mfume has been misinformed by PETA and we have placed a call to him,” said Jonathan Blum of the Kentucky-based company. “We have industry-leading animal-welfare guidelines in place for all suppliers.”

PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said his group “was impressed that someone who is so busy working on human justice issues would take some time out for the chickens as well.”

Mr. Mfume later issued his own statement, noting, “It’s not a civil rights issue. I decided to write the letter in support of the efforts to eliminate any abuses in the slaughter and/or raising of chickens.”

Not a good bet

The Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., is using huge billboards of Fidel Castro’s face and trademark cigar to advertise the gaming hall, calling it “The Next Revolution.”

New Jersey Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, a Democrat, called the campaign “offensive and pretty stupid. Castro is one of the biggest violators of freedom. To be rewarded by being put on a billboard by the Tropicana Casino in America, I just think it’s in poor taste.”

Tropicana claims its $245 million development is just for fun.

“The point is, what we’re doing is revolutionary,” spokeswoman Maureen Siman told the Atlantic Press yesterday. “The project is going to change Atlantic City in a positive way, in a revolutionary way. We are not making a political statement.”

But the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami is deluged with complaints from a variety of people, both Cuban and non-Cuban.

“It’s just unfortunate that someone should choose to portray a figure of a man who still has 11 million subjugated citizens on the island. Based on that slogan, it doesn’t bode well for Atlantic City,” spokeswoman Mariela Ferretti said.

The idea of Castro supporting a casino is “rather ironic, especially given the message Castro and his forces were trying to send when they pillaged Havana’s casinos,” she added.

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

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