- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Bubbles and smoke

Let’s head out West, to the Colorado Rockies, where the air is fresh and the water is pure, to where Democratic state Attorney General Ken Salazar and Republican brew-master Pete Coors are battling it out for a U.S. Senate seat.

Albeit Mr. Coors, who recently outlasted former Rep. Bob Schaffer in the Republican primary, has — like much of the country — grown a bit weary of the ceaseless campaigning required by a candidate to serve on Capitol Hill.

Immediately after the primary, Mr. Coors embarked with Mr. Schaffer on a “unity” bus tour, at which time he acknowledged: “I’d rather be in a bathtub smoking cigars this morning.”

Democrats, of course, were quick to draw the water and light the match.

“Pete, after November, you’ll have all the time in the world to bathe and smoke cigars, my friend. All the time in the world,” says Anne Lewis of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Mr. Salazar, she boasts, has been a strong advocate for rural residents on land, water and agricultural issues, not to mention a respected attorney general with significant support from the law-enforcement community.

“Pete Coors, on the other hand, still remains a mystery politically,” she says. “The most significant thing he said in the primary was that he wants to reduce the drinking age from 21 to 18 … which would allow Coors Inc. to sell more beer.”

Truth be told, Mr. Coors has taken strong stands on several fronts: opposing abortion and homosexual “marriage,” desiring to create a cleaner environment and building a stronger national defense, the latter his most pressing position.

“You can count me as a vote to back our troops every time, to support them in word and deed,” he says. “The number one job of our federal government as outlined in the Constitution is protecting our homeland and keeping us safe from enemies. Today, our nation confronts enemies like we have never seen.”

As for being a mystery candidate, Mr. Coors offers: “In a Senate dominated by lawyers and professional politicians, I believe there is room for at least one new senator with real world experiences, bringing … new leadership to a Congress too often dominated by stale ideas and political gridlock.”

Uncivil war

The incivility of political discourse in American politics has reached unprecedented heights — or depths, according to the Global Language Monitor’s August PQ (political-sensitivity quotient) Index.

Among the most repeated political words and phrases in the media this month: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “girlie men” comment, Vice President Dick Cheney cursing on the Senate floor, President Bush and Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry being characterized as “liars,” and Teresa Heinz Kerry’s rude directive to a reporter.

The New York Times’ categorization, in an editorial, of Mr. Bush’s verbal gaffe during a recent bill signing ceremony as a “Freudian slip” follows close behind. Stated the president: “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

“Not since the Civil War era, when President Lincoln was frequently depicted by adversaries as a gangly, gaping baboon, has the discourse sunken to such a profane level,” says Monitor president Paul J.J. Payack.

“Such is the decline in political discourse that future historians might actually wonder if the battle being fought was between the ‘blue states’ and the ‘red states’ rather than between the forces of terrorism and the West.”

Public diplomacy

As the United States wages its war on terrorism, Uncle Sam has started a worldwide public-relations campaign touting America and its positive values — directed at Muslims.

U.S. embassies are distributing State Department-produced books, brochures, press kits and even posters in local languages to foreign audiences, combining eye-catching designs and text on everything from popular sports, such as basketball, to contemporary American literature and “Muslim Life in America.”

The latter, portraying the freedom and opportunity enjoyed by Muslim Americans, has 350,000 copies in print in 20 languages. In Tanzania, for example, the National Muslim Council agreed to distribute 25,000 copies to Islamic schools, while more than 4,000 schools and mosques in Thailand have received copies.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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