- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A dire problem

A Democrat close to Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign, who asked not to be named, offered what a New York Times news story yesterday described as a “dire” analysis of Mr. Kerry’s fight with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

“When you’re basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem,” the Democrat said.

Louisiana ruling

A judge calledLouisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander’s last-minute switch to the Republican Party an attempt to subvert the election process and ordered that the sign-up period be reopened for new candidates for Congress.

Mr. Alexander infuriated Democrats this month when he switched to the GOP just minutes before the deadline for getting on the ballot. The move made it virtually impossible for the Democrats to field a promising candidate to run against Mr. Alexander.

“Mr. Alexander has attempted to subvert the electoral process for his own personal gain. His action deprived voters of the right to vote for a Democratic candidate,” said District Judge Allen Edwards, a Democrat.

The judge did not throw Mr. Alexander off the ballot, as the Democrats had asked. He did not immediately set a new deadline for the sign-up period.

Calls to the Louisiana Democratic Party seeking comment about potential challengers were not immediately returned, the Associated Press reports. The only Democrat in the race is Zelma “Tisa” Blakes, a political newcomer who called herself a “domestic engineer” when she signed up.

Republicans said the judge crossed the line in making such strong statements about Mr. Alexander’s party change.

“We believe that’s not fair,” Republican lawyer Bobby Burchfield said.

Mr. Alexander’s defection means Democrats must gain another seat, 12 minimum, to win back the House this fall.

Mr. Alexander won the seat formerly held by Republican John Cooksey by less than a thousand votes in 2002.

Hillary’s role

John Kerry’s presidential campaign, which slighted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic convention last month, now wants the former first lady to lead its ‘truth squad’ at next week’s GOP National Convention,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker reports.

“Party insiders said that aides to Clinton were engaged in ‘intensive talks’ over the weekend with Kerry’s representatives about the role she is expected to play,” Mr. Dicker writes.

“‘It will be high profile; she will be one of the responders at the convention, probably focusing on homeland security issues,’ said a source familiar with the talks. ‘I think it’s fair to say the Kerry people realize Mrs. Clinton could be very effective.’

“Another insider said, ‘It’s ironic that after they snubbed her in Boston, they now want to use her in New York.’”

Swift seller

Whatever the long-term political effect of Swift Boat Veterans’ questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam service, in the short term, their book is a smash best seller.

“Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,” by John E. O’Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, is No. 1 on the best-seller list at Amazon.com. Mr. O’Neill took command of PCF-94 after Mr. Kerry returned home with three Purple Hearts.

Callers to radio talk shows report that “Unfit for Command” is hard to find in bookstores, and Amazon currently reports a five- to seven-week delay for delivery. Folks at District-based publisher Regnery Books say they’re trying to meet the overwhelming demand.

“We are working as hard as we can to get the books out to the customers and the stores,” Kelley Keeler, director of publicity for Regnery, tells The Washington Times. “By next week, there will be over half a million copies of ‘Unfit for Command’ in print or on order.”

She notes that the book is available through the Conservative Book Club, and is careful in assessing the success of “Unfit for Command.”

“It’s a little early to say,” Ms. Keller said. “It seems to be off to a good start.”

Kerry’s premise

“The first thing that must be said is that by attacking co-author John O’Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, [Sen. John] Kerry and his supporters have undermined the central rationale for Kerry’s campaign — and this is true regardless of the truth or falsehood of the allegations in ‘Unfit for Command,’” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Kerry has based his entire campaign on the premise that he is fit to be president because he served in Vietnam. We’ve treated this as a running joke, and we doubt anyone disagrees that Kerry descended into self-parody when he opened his nomination speech last month by goofily saluting and declaring that he was ‘reporting for duty.’

“But Kerry appears to be serious about this. He acts as if he really thinks that his Vietnam service is an answer to any objection anyone might have to his record — that it is sufficient to prove he is honest, strong, brave, decisive and wise about national defense,” Mr. Taranto said.

“The 250-plus men who make up Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, however, also served in Vietnam. Indeed, unlike Kerry, many served a full tour of duty there. If Kerry’s backers can attack them as liars, Republican stooges and so forth, they can hardly expect that their candidate’s Vietnam service will insulate him from criticism. Furthermore, since Kerry has made his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign, it seems unreasonable for him to suggest that no one may question it.”

About-face

“On the first ‘Face the Nation’ after President Bush‘sAir National Guard service became a big media scandal in February, CBS’s Bob Schieffer focused on the substance, demanding to know what recently released records revealed,” the Media Research Center notes at www.mediaresarch.org.

“He did not demand that the Kerry team condemn the pursuit of the issue or [Democratic National Committee] Chairman Terry McAuliffe for accusing Bush of being ‘AWOL’ and, in fact, his co-host, Time’s Karen Tumulty, outlined how the subject helped the Kerry campaign in its denigration of Bush’s character.

“But a bit more than six months later, on the first ‘Face the Nation’ after the broadcast networks finally got around to the charges from the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Schieffer and his co-host, the Boston Globe’s Nina Easton, didn’t care about the substance of Kerry’s record as both instead demanded to know why President Bush hadn’t condemned the group’s ads.

Easton was concerned about Kerry’s plight, noting he had ‘finally’ condemned the ads. She still worried: ‘Do you think he waited too long? Do you think the damage has already been done?’”

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


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