- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2004

McGovern’s choice

Democratic White House hopeful Wesley Clark was endorsed yesterday by George McGovern, the former South Dakota senator who ran as the party’s presidential candidate in 1972 on an anti-Vietnam War platform.

Mr. Clark is “a Democrat’s Democrat,” Mr. McGovern said at rally with the retired Army general in Keene, N.H. Some of Mr. Clark’s Democratic rivals have questioned his party bona fides, pointing out that Mr. Clark said he has voted for a series of Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon, the man who thrashed Mr. McGovern.

“I’ve been around the political block, and I can tell you I know a true progressive when I see one,” Mr. McGovern said.

Mr. McGovern said Mr. Clark stood the best chance of defeating Mr. Bush because of his credentials on national security, according to a report by Hearst Newspapers.

“We just have to win this election,” said Mr. McGovern, a decorated B-24 bomber pilot in World War II. “I don’t think the United States can take another four years of the Bush policies [because] I think it will be four years of needless wars.”

Mr. McGovern said Mr. Clark, a Vietnam combat veteran, would be judicious about the use of military force rather than committing GIs to what he called “unnecessary wars” like Iraq and Vietnam.

“I think that people who had some firsthand experience with war are less likely to commit American forces to unnecessary military operations,” Mr. McGovern said, adding that Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have “never been near a battlefield.”

Subdued Democrats

A noticeably subdued group of California Democrats held their annual convention over the weekend, pledging to re-elect Sen. Barbara Boxer and defeat President Bush in November.

But the recall that bounced Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in October in favor of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger cast a long shadow across the convention hall, the Associated Press reports.

It left speakers struggling for a message to motivate activists after the party’s most humiliating defeat in years.

“Our governor may have been recalled, but our party has not been. Our governor may have been recalled, but our values have not been,” party Chairman Art Torres told the gathering of 1,600 delegates in San Jose.

Mr. Davis thanked delegates for their support in a brief speech — his first public appearance since Mr. Schwarzenegger’s inauguration Nov. 17.

“You didn’t hesitate. You stayed the course, and you believed in our dream,” Mr. Davis said. “I’m confident the state is in good hands and the Democratic Party will have better days.”

Attorney General Bill Lockyer tried his hand at humor with a slide show comparing various Bush administration officials to vegetables. He depicted Bush political strategist Karl Rove as a clove of garlic.

“He’s a bulbous operative whose smell is everywhere,” Mr. Lockyer said.

But who’s counting?

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, after being attacked by rival Democratic presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton for having had no blacks or Hispanics in his Cabinet, said: “You’re never going to ever find me playing that game. The head count, the name game.”

Well, that’s what Mr. Dean said Jan. 12, the New Republic observes in its editorial Notebook.

But the next day, the Chicago Tribune reported: “Dean’s campaign provided to reporters a list of 20 Hispanic and African-American campaign workers, including some who are senior advisers and state directors.”

Blame Clinton

Those “60 Minutes” debates last spring between former President Clinton and Bob Dole failed partly because Mr. Clinton was writing a book and didn’t have time to concentrate on the show, the program’s executive producer tells the Associated Press.

Announced with much fanfare, the Clinton-Dole minidebates lasted only 10 episodes. They brought little ratings buzz to the CBS newsmagazine and were called boring by many TV critics.

“It didn’t work because Bill Clinton was so involved in writing his book he never could give us the time,” said Don Hewitt, “60 Minutes” founder, who is stepping down as executive producer in May after 35 years.

Mr. Dole wasn’t as good a TV performer as Mr. Clinton, but “he was ready to give us as much time as we needed because he didn’t have anything to do,” Mr. Hewitt said.

“You can’t be a success on ‘60 Minutes’ unless ‘60 Minutes’ is the number-one thing on your mind,” Mr. Hewitt said.

Rather’s analysis

CBS anchorman Dan Rather says the day is coming soon when there will be virtually no live coverage of political conventions on television networks.

The Democrats and Republicans are to blame for scheduling four-day conventions that do little except advertise their established positions and candidates, he said.

“I think it’s inevitable that the over-the-airways broadcasters and, for that matter, many in cable either take a pass or reduce their coverage even more than we’ve seen in recent years,” Mr. Rather told the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles this past weekend.

CBS and the other broadcast networks haven’t announced their plans for covering this year’s conventions, the Associated Press reports. Four years ago, they ran one-hour, prime-time wrap-ups during the first three nights, then gave slightly more time for the presidential candidates’ acceptance speeches.

NBC said last week it was debuting many of its fall entertainment shows during the week of the Republican convention, beginning in New York on Aug. 30.

King tribute

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell remembers the first time that he, as a young black Army officer, was allowed to buy a hamburger at a drive-in eatery in Phenix City, Ala. He credits Martin Luther King for the law that let him do it.

It was July 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, “and I was able to go to the drive-in hamburger stand that had denied me service just a few weeks earlier [and] that now had to serve me,” Mr. Powell said in a TV interview that aired yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

“I’ll never forget that particular day. … And no one deserves greater credit for bringing about that day and that act than Dr. King,” said Mr. Powell, the highest-ranking black official in U.S. government history, in an interview for a syndicated program on King titled “We Have a Dream.”

Mr. Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attributed his career to the black soldiers who fought thanklessly for their country: the post-Civil War Buffalo Soldiers on the American frontier; and the Tuskegee Airmen, the Triple Nickel Parachute Battalion and the Montford Point Marines of World War II.

“All of them went and served their nation over a period of close to 300 years of military service in this country when they were … asked to give blood for the nation, but were not going to get the privileges of being citizens of this nation,” Mr. Powell said.

“But they did it anyway. They did it anyway in the certainty that sooner or later, right would triumph and our Constitution would be made whole.”

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

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