- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Imam Bush’

“Perhaps the biggest story left unreported in the West is the extraordinary exuberance about the Iraqi election, set for January 30, among Iraqi Shias,” Stephen Schwartz writes at www.TechCentralStation.com.

“I know about this because I spend a great deal of time talking to Iraqi Shia religious leaders, some of whom commute back and forth between Iraq and the U.S. The effervescence among them must be experienced to be believed,” said Mr. Schwartz, author of “The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role In Terrorism,” and a consultant on domestic and international affairs in Washington.

“One prominent Shia in the U.S. told me, ‘I call the president Imam Bush.’ [In Shia Islam, the imams are the chief religious guides throughout the history of the sect.] ‘He is a believer in God, he is just, and I believe he will keep his promise to hold a fair election on January 30,’ my interlocutor said. ‘He liberated Karbala and Najaf [the Shia holy cities]. He has done more for Shias than anybody else in history.’ ”

Media onslaught

“The mainstream media is abuzz, making their strongest drive yet to depose Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But a critical look at who’s talking and how their argument is framed shows a lack of new data from those theorizing Rumsfeld should step down,” Eric Pfeiffer writes at National Review Online (Nationalreview.com).

“While Democratic assaults against Rumsfeld and the Iraq-war effort are not new, the media is smitten at the prospect of GOP officials taking similar jabs at the Pentagon’s leadership. Leading the charge are Sens. John McCain and Chuck Hagel,” Mr. Pfeiffer noted.

“It was McCain who first made a splash two weeks ago on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ announcing his lack of confidence in Rumsfeld. To no one’s surprise, the media ran with the story while McCain reciprocated, giving a number of interviews to print and television outlets. However, this past week when McCain issued the same statement, it was again treated as a breaking-news story. Meanwhile, Hagel continued his shadow-McCain approach, announcing on ‘Face the Nation’ this Sunday that he too lacked confidence in Rumsfeld’s leadership.

“However, two facts must be observed in weighing the credence of their claims. First, both McCain and Hagel have openly begun their campaigns to succeed President Bush in 2008. Positioning themselves as moderate critics of the administration allocates them credibility in the eyes of the mainstream press and provides greater access to the media coverage a potential presidential candidate needs. Second, their criticisms of Rumsfeld and Hagel’s opposition to the war effort are nothing new. Hagel went so far as to deride the entire administration for the deaths of soldiers in Iraq, stating, ‘I think it’s very reflective of how out of touch this crowd is,’” Mr. Pfeiffer writes.

“Maine Sen. Susan Collins, fresh from her intelligence-reform victory over Rumsfeld, has been criticizing the war since it first became fashionable with the meteoric rise of the 9/11 Commission. And Trent Lott, an otherwise solid player in the war effort, has no love lost for an administration that allowed for, and some would argue advocated, his defrocking as Senate majority leader,” said Mr. Pfeiffer, a senior writer for National Journal’s Hotline.

Meanwhile, the press has all but ignored the votes of confidence Mr. Rumsfeld has received from a string of Republican senators, Mr. Pfeiffer said.

Trickle-up news

The truth is trickling out on the true state of affairs concerning the armoring of U.S. vehicles in Iraq, the Media Research Center reports.

” ‘It now appears that the premise of the question that caused an uproar around Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was, so to speak, off base,’ [Fox New Channel’s] Brit Hume noted Tuesday night in reminding viewers how two weeks ago National Guardsman ‘Thomas Wilson said to Rumsfeld, quote, “our vehicles are not armored, we do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north,” into Iraq.’

“But, Hume relayed, ‘according to senior Army officers, about 800 of the 830 vehicles in Wilson’s Army regiment, the 278th Calvary, had already been up-armored’ at the time of his widely publicized question.

“Some Hearst newspapers reported that fact last week, and since then it has trickled up the media stream into NewsMax, The Washington Times and FNC, but not the other networks or major newspapers.” the MRC’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

Arnold’s biography

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography has been sold to St. Martin’s Press, which will issue the book in June, New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams writes.

“He did not write this thing himself. He did, however, help it. The man allowed exclusive interviews with intimates, never-before-interviewed pals, bodybuilder chums, elementary school buds, lifelong associates, agents, managers, kin, lovers, publicists. He supplied names, numbers, whereabouts and gave his Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The title — like the man himself — is understated. It’s ‘Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger.’

“Author Laurence Leamer has done multiple Kennedy books — ‘The Kennedy Men,’ ‘The Kennedy Women,’ maybe even ‘The Kennedy Kousins,’ I don’t know,” the columnist said.

“Six percent of the book will be handpicked lousy stuff like about his Nazi storm trooper father who will now suddenly get dumped on for being ‘abusive.’ We’ll hear details of an early affair. Plus the ‘startling’ story of his wedding day and what that means, I have no idea. There’s the person who tried to ruin his career. There’s wife Maria Shriver who’s the horse before the cart. Arnie comes off as willful, driven, terminally ambitious. We’ll also read about the game plan to bring him to the White House.

“So, is this memoir ‘authorized?’ No. But is it wanted, permitted, fostered, watched over, shepherded, guarded, guided, shaped by A. Schwarzenegger Himself? You bet your Austrians.”

Stepping down

Democrat Tom Murphy, who has been mayor of Pittsburgh since 1994, announced will not seek a fourth term.

Mr. Murphy is the second-longest serving mayor in the history of the Pennsylvania city. At a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Murphy said: “It was really a personal decision on my part. I’m 60 years old and there’s lots of things I want to do with my life.”

The mayor said he would serve out the rest of his current term, giving him 12 years in office. Only David L. Lawrence, mayor from 1944 to 1958, served in the office longer, United Press International reports.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said those considered early front-runners to replace Mr. Murphy include former City Council President Bob O’Connor, City Council member William Peduto, Allegheny County Prothonotary Michael Lamb, and city controller and county Democratic Party Chairman Tom Flaherty.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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