- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

Soldiers and senators

Grosset & Dunlap in 1945 published the political tome “Laughing Stock.” Its author, Bennett Cerf, who if alive today, no doubt would be writing about the controversy swirling around Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam.

Consider this particular gem of Mr. Cerf’s, republished in its entirety, about a “Kerry-like” politico of yesteryear:

“My friend!” cried the energetic congressional candidate, “as a boy I fought with our forces in World War I. As an officer, I fought in the Second World War. I saw service in the Korean incident. I have often had no bed but the battlefield; no canopy but the sky. I have marched over frozen ground until every step was marked with blood. I — ”

“Just a minute,” interrupted a listener. “Did you say you’d slept on the ground with no covers?”

“That’s right!”

“And that you saw service in both World Wars?”

“That’s right!”

“And that your feet have bled from walking on frozen ground?”

“That’s quite right!”

“Then,” concluded the listener, “you’ve done enough for your country. Go home and rest. I’ll vote for the other fellow.”

Troop tally

Most Americans have two months before they cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election. The Pentagon, on the other hand, hoping not to repeat the controversy that plagued the military vote in 2000, has designated the upcoming week “Armed Forces Voting Week.”

The initiative will remind military personnel to request and submit absentee ballots in a timely and proper manner for this year’s all-important election. Four years ago, nearly 30 percent of military voters requesting ballots did not receive them in time to vote, and because of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, an even higher number of U.S. troops are now deployed overseas.

The military vote — or lack thereof — made for some unflattering headlines during the controversial 2000 Florida recount, when election officials rejected hundreds of the military’s absentee ballots because they lacked required postmarks and/or signatures.

Carding Demetria

In our previous column, Donna Brazile, campaign manager four years ago of Vice President Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, said she won’t ever forget “that fateful election night” of 2000.

“[I]t was my sister Demetria’s harrowing experience in 2000 that motivated me to become an advocate for election reform,” she explained. “In Seminole County, Florida, she was asked to produce not one, not two — but three forms of ID in order to cast a vote for the president of the United States.”

Of the many readers to respond, Matthew Manka of Florida writes: “Ms. Brazile’s sister should consider herself lucky; her county (in a state with a high, and dare I say, illegal, alien population) is making sure only registered voters vote.

“In my county, as an almost 40-year-old with graying hair, I am carded more often for buying beer than I am to ensure I am voting legally. There is nothing wrong with being vigilant about the sanctity of voting.”

Hillary’s cookies

Recalling that an estimated 4 million evangelicals stayed home on Election Day in 2000, the Family Research Council wonders what will turn them out in 2004?

President Bush’s “fortune” on Nov. 2 rests with the pro-family base, says the highly conservative council, so during this week’s Republican National Convention in New York City, its members will be handing out thousands of fortune cookies containing messages that it says the Bush campaign should use to motivate pro-family voters.

Among the cookie notes: “Real Men Marry Women,” “Save the Constitution! Impeach an Activist Judge” and “#1 Reason to Ban Human Cloning: Hillary Clinton.”

Bring your ID

“I’m so glad now that I’m old. I’m going to meet Pat Boone!”

Republican National Convention female delegate from Tennessee, RSVP’ing for breakfast in New York City this week with Pat Boone, national spokesman for the 60 Plus Association.

Longing for Bubba

“One watcher on north Miami [Avenue] held up a life-size cutout of Bill Clinton.”

Official White House pool report of President Bush’s recent motorcade through Miami

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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