- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

Haunt, Part 1

Could they get burned by the Torch?

New Jersey Democrats are pondering their fate after Gov. James E. McGreevey announced he would resign Nov. 15 after disclosing a homosexual affair. State Senate President Richard Codey will most likely serve as acting governor until January 2006.

But Mr. Codey may run for governor on his own next year, the Trenton Times noted yesterday, which has Democrats “rethinking whether a special election might be in their best interest.”

Mr. Codey’s allies hope Mr. McGreevey stays at least until Sept. 3, after which, under state law, there would be no special election. Republicans demand that he leave office now.

“Democrats fear that could create a climate for a Republican such as Bret Schundler, who already has run a statewide race, to win a special election. Democrats also worry that a stream of scandal may ignite a public backlash and sap McGreevey’s resolve to stay on until November,” the Trenton Times said.

“If he doesn’t last until then, the ghost of Robert Torricelli could come back to haunt them. The state Supreme Court’s 2002 decision that allowed Democrats to replace Torricelli with Frank Lautenberg five weeks before Election Day could be a precedent for Republicans to demand a special election should McGreevey leave before November.”

Haunt, Part 2

“Senator John Kerry’s Iraq vote is going to haunt him throughout the presidential campaign, no matter how he explains it,” the New York Times observed yesterday. “That does not keep us from wishing that Mr. Kerry would do a better job with the issue.”

The Times ultimately advised Mr. Kerry, “What we would like to hear from Mr. Kerry is how the events of the last year have changed his own thinking. He consistently describes the failures of Iraq as failures in tactics — from a lack of international support to a lack of adequate body armor for the troops. We’re wondering if he really believes better planning or better diplomacy would have made the difference, or whether the whole idea of sending troops was flawed.

“Arab nations have a painful history of Western colonization, and there is an instinctive resistance to the idea of a Western occupation of Arab soil. How much does Mr. Kerry think the addition of French and German soldiers would have improved things? In retrospect, it seems that even if Arab nations like Saudi Arabia or Egypt had added their support, the outcome would have more likely been trouble for the governments of those countries back home rather than credibility on the streets of Baghdad.

“There are undoubtedly circumstances that call for military action, but we would like to know whether, as president, John Kerry would insist on a higher threshold than he settled for as an opportunistic senator in 2002.”

Go, Peggy, go

Much ado has been made over Peggy Noonan’s temporary leave of absence from the Wall Street Journal to lend a hand with the Bush campaign.

“Peggy Noonan, the Republican Party’s go-to speechwriter for nearly a decade, won’t be penning President George W. Bush’s speech, GOP sources tell Time; instead, she’ll lend her hand to the addresses of New York Governor George Pataki and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Though from different wings of the party — Santorum is a faith-based conservative and Pataki a moderate — both are believed to harbor national ambitions and could use Noonan’s help in making the most of their moment in the spotlight,” Time’s Michael Duffy reports today.

“A master at turning ideology — or the lack of it — into something inspiring, Noonan has plenty to do. Republicans watched the Democrats mount an almost pitch-perfect middle-of-the-road convention in Boston and are wondering how they can match it in New York. Although Noonan wasn’t recruited by the White House (‘She broke down the door,’ says one Bush supporter), top Bush aides telephoned her last week to welcome her aboard.”

Has not forgotten

“Because we’ve done so many things with George W., people don’t have any doubt about where my loyalty lies. I would do just about anything I could to see George W. Bush back in the White House,” country singer Darryl Worley told the Nashville Tennessean yesterday.

“But I don’t think the stage is the place to campaign. To get into politics on the stage would be working a little outside of your profession, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think that would show a whole lot of taste,” concluded Mr. Worley, whose September 11-themed song “Have You Forgotten?” reached No. 1 last year.

Democracy begins

U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been credited with encouraging 10 million Afghans to register for the country’s historic election this fall with names and thumbprints as registration drew to a close yesterday.

“These people are responding to the opportunity that has been provided to them by Enduring Freedom and the presence of the international community,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s envoy to Kabul, who had expected only 6 million out of more than 25 million Afghans to register.

“We are really in the front line of freedom here,” he told Reuters yesterday.

Democracy continues

The November election is expected to trigger an unusually robust voter turnout amid deep concern regarding the economy, the war in Iraq and terrorism.

“This country has not been so emotionally involved in an election since 1968 during the Vietnam War,” Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, told Hearst yesterday.

In four decades, voter turnout at presidential elections has declined by nearly 25 percent. But election-watchers predict the turnout in November could approach 60 percent of eligible citizens voting.

Screen gems

Those who have just about had it with Michael Moore might consider “George W. Bush: Faith in the White House,” a new documentary meant to counter Mr. Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

The full-length film “reveals a positive side of President Bush never reported by the news media through interviews with people who have encountered Bush in a faith-based way,” said producer David W. Balsige. “Our documentary reveals this is the most faith-based presidency since Abraham Lincoln.”

It was produced, he said, without help from the White House or Bush campaign and is based on “independent research” and the books “A Man of Faith” by David Aikman and “George W. Bush on God and Country” by Tom Freiling.

Reagan administration Energy Secretary Don Hodel, former George Bush special assistant Doug Wead and civil rights activist Robert Woodson are among 18 featured interviews.

Produced by Grizzly Adams Productions (www.grizzlyadams.tv), the documentary will be released on DVD in September.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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