- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

‘Lack of passion’

Chuck Todd, editor in chief of the Hotline, National Journal’s daily briefing on politics, still has a few doubts about presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, despite the Massachusetts Democrat’s impressive victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“The lack of passion at Kerry rallies that we observed over the last two weeks should be troublesome to his aides,” Mr. Todd writes at www.nationaljournal.com.

“It’s not Kerry that lacks the passion, but his supporters. His backers are quintessential establishment Democrats: older voters and members of the rank-and-file Democratic groups. Clark, Edwards and Dean all seem to attract more enthusiastic supporters. We know enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily translate to support, but it sure can energize folks — and Kerry needs a spark that will make supporters of his foes comfortable and excited in unity.

“And while we’ll admit we’re thisclose from anointing Kerry as the nominee, there’s one thing that gives us pause — and that’s John Kerry. He was a terrible front-runner early last year, and how he deals with the upcoming scrutiny and attacks will tell us whether he has the temperament to pull this off. Kerry didn’t show that temperament in the spring of ‘03, but he has of late. Can he keep his old self under wraps long enough to put this nomination away? It’s looking like it.”

Alien species

“The conservative movement, which at various points has felt slighted, ignored, abused, dismissed and otherwise thoroughly adrift in coverage by New York’s ‘media elites,’ has finally found a place in the New York Times. Sort of,” the New York Observer reports.

“For the next year, David Kirkpatrick — formerly the man charged with covering the book publishing industry — will cover conservatives. Not the Republican Party or the Bush administration. No, it’s real conservatives,” Observer staffer Sridhar Pappu writes.

“In an announcement earlier this month, Times national editor Jim Roberts said that Mr. Kirkpatrick ‘will examine conservative forces in religion, politics, law, business and the media — a job that will take him across the country and make him a frequent presence in Washington.

” ‘His coverage will cut across the political campaigns this season,’ Mr. Roberts continued, ‘but we expect that much of what he does will transcend the race itself and delve into the issues and personalities that drive — and sometimes divide — conservatives.’

” ‘I winced a little when I read that job announcement,’ said Times executive editor Bill Keller, ‘because it was a little like “The New York Times discovers this strange, alien species called conservatives,” and that’s not what this is about.’ …

“What The Times’ new beat means to do, Mr. Keller said, is this: Give a great big bear hug to the disparate but at times interconnected conservative organizations — evangelical Christians and anti-abortionists, for example — all as a way of gaining a peek into who the Bush administration listens to, and why.”

Sharpton’s friends

Celebrity lawyer Johnny Cochran endorses the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democratic presidential candidate, in a radio ad that began airing yesterday in South Carolina.

Mr. Sharpton’s campaign said it is targeting the Columbia, Florence, Charleston and Greenville/Spartanburg markets. The campaign already had been airing an ad by aging rap star Russell Simmons.

Mr. Sharpton has visited the state repeatedly during the past year, and a recent poll shows that the black activist is quite competitive in a state where blacks are expected to make up as much as half the Democratic primary vote.

Here is a partial script for the radio ad: “This is Johnny Cochran. There’s one candidate for president who is fighting to keep Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s dream alive — Rev. Al Sharpton. A candidate with the boldness of Adam Clayton Powell, the courage of Rosa Parks and the commitment of Robert Kennedy. Al Sharpton has spent his life fighting for justice and equality — now he is demanding our seat at the table and our piece of the American dream.”

Ethics complaint

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a public-interest law firm, has filed an ethics complaint against Palm Beach County, Fla., State Attorney Barry Krischer and Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Selvig for giving the media confidential information related to the Rush Limbaugh investigation.

Landmark seeks an independent investigation into how the prosecutors justified the release of a letter from Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney regarding a possible plea bargain. Mr. Limbaugh, the conservative king of talk radio, underwent rehabilitation last year for a prescription-drug addiction, and since has been under investigation in his home county.

Landmark quoted Patricia Gleason, general counsel to the Office of the Attorney General in Florida, as saying that Mr. Selvig had misrepresented her advice on the matter. The foundation also said Mr. Krischer had misrepresented advice he received from an official of the Florida Bar Association concerning release of the letter.

French connection

Former French Environment Minister Brice Lalonde said yesterday that he supports his first cousin Sen. John Kerry in the bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

“My cousin’s a nice guy, I’d like him to win,” Mr. Lalonde told Agence France-Presse. “We saw each other six months ago and even then I was hoping he would be in the running and take the top job.”

Mr. Lalonde, who served in France’s Socialist Party government from 1988 to 1991 and was the founder of one of France’s green parties, Generation Ecologie, on Tuesday revealed that he and Mr. Kerry were related.

“Our two mums were sisters, from a family that during [World War II] spread out and dispersed to the five continents,” he told Europe 1 radio.

‘Most disorganized’

“We have a new winner for the most disorganized campaign!” Sasha Johnson writes in the Morning Grind column at www.CNN.com.

“In Greenville, S.C., Wesley Clark’s charter realized midair that the crew would be violating an aviation rest policy if the plane landed in South Carolina at 1:30 a.m. [yesterday]. So, it left for Oklahoma — landing around 4 a.m. And to make matters worse, Clark was padding around the plane in his socks with a sweater over his collared shirt and his tie hanging around his neck.”

Concession rejected

Because President Bush has no real competition on the Republican side, few noticed that he won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night with about 86 percent of the vote. The rest was divided among 13 little-known opponents.

One of those challengers, Jim Taylor, campaigned against what he called profligate federal spending under Mr. Bush, Marc Morano reports at www.CNSNews.com.

“According to Taylor’s campaign manager, the White House switchboard rejected Taylor’s phone call to President Bush conceding defeat in the primary,” Mr. Morano said.

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

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