- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 20, 2004

‘Eye-crossingly dull’

Bill Clinton’s new book, “My Life,” received a rare if not unprecedented front-page review in the New York Times yesterday — and the former president cannot be happy.

“The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history,” in-house book critic Michiko Kakutani said.

And the reviewer had more bad things to say.

“In many ways, the book is a mirror of Mr. Clinton’s presidency: Lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration.

“This memoir underscores many strengths of Mr. Clinton’s eight years in the White House and his understanding that he was governing during a transitional and highly polarized period. But the very lack of focus and order that mars these pages also prevented him from summoning his energies in a sustained manner to bring his insights about the growing terror threat and an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to fruition.”

The book “devolves into a hodgepodge of jottings: part policy primer, part 12-step confessional, part stump speech and part presidential archive, all, it seems, hurriedly written and even more hurriedly edited,” the reviewer said.

Teddy’s anniversary

“The opening night of next month’s Democratic convention in Boston is set to feature an emotional party tribute to hometown hero Ted Kennedy, who has served in office longer than every other senator but one,” New York Post columnist Eric Fettmann writes.

“Guess no one at the Democratic National Committee took a close look at the calendar: That July 26 salute to Teddy just happens to coincide with … the 35th anniversary of Chappaquiddick,” Mr. Fettmann said.

“It was on July 25, 1969, that the senator appeared before a Massachusetts district court judge and, in a proceeding that lasted all of seven minutes, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to report the accident that resulted in the death of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne.

“No jail time was imposed. The only official sanction Kennedy ever suffered was the temporary loss of his driver’s license.”

Kerry’s error

“Perhaps John Kerry simply made the mistake of believing what he read in the New York Times,” William Kristol writes in the Weekly Standard.

“There it was, the lead headline on Thursday, June 17: ‘Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.’ Or perhaps he read the Los Angeles Times headline: ‘No Signs of Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties Found.’ Or The Washington Post: ‘Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed.’ Or maybe he was watching CBS News the night before, as John Roberts explained that ‘one of President Bush‘s last surviving justifications for war in Iraq took a devastating hit as the 9/11 Commission put the nail in that connection’ between Saddam and al Qaeda.

“So Kerry pounced. No matter that this coverage ranged from tendentious to false. The Bush administration, he claimed, ‘misled America.’ ‘The administration took its eye off al Qaeda, took its eye off of the real war on terror in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan and transferred it for reasons of its own to Iraq.’ And ‘the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to; we should only go to war because we have to.’”

Mr. Kristol added: “This is surely a major moment in the presidential race. John Kerry had, until last week, been running a disciplined general election campaign, carefully suppressing his left-leaning foreign policy instincts, soberly emphasizing his commitment to fighting the war on terror and to seeing through the effort in Iraq. Then he couldn’t resist the temptation to jump on the (misleading) press accounts of the (sloppy) 9/11 Commission staff report, in order to assault the Bush administration on the issue of terror links between Saddam and al Qaeda.”

Exposing bias

The Media Research Center plans a $2.8 million “Tell the Truth” campaign that it hopes will reach 50 million Americans every week between now and the end of the year with evidence of liberal bias in the media.

“This unprecedented campaign will reach 50 million people every week through a multitude of outlets. The public will be informed as to the media’s liberal bias as never before,” MRC President Brent Bozell said Friday in a prepared statement.

“Day after day, night after night, the news media question, denounce, or just plain ignore the good news. They want higher taxes to fund massive new federal spending for more liberal experiments like socialized health care. They want America — and the world — to see our military as corrupt and barbaric — and failing. And they’ll denounce anyone or anything that stands in the way of that message.”

The MRC said it plans full-page newspaper ads and billboard ads in top media markets, as well as tens of thousands of bumper stickers, coffee mugs, pens, T-shirts with the “Tell the Truth!” slogan attached, daily e-mail CyberAlerts, a weekly fax report called “Worst of the Week” (WOW), which will identify the most egregious bias, and Media Reality Check fax reports exposing bias trends.

Hip-hop convention

Young black Americans — the “hip-hop generation” — need to turn their emotional rhetoric into political action, most importantly by voting on Election Day, a gathering of black activists said Saturday.

The activists were among 3,000 people who met in Newark, N.J., for the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which ended Saturday. Their mission: educate, motivate and unite young black Americans so they can elect more black politicians, Reuters news agency reports.

Bakari Kitwana, 37, author and co-founder of the convention, defined the “hip-hop generation” as blacks born between 1965 and 1984, but said it extends to anyone who listens to hip-hop music.

Through a series of workshops — including “How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office” — the grass-roots meeting also tried to develop a political agenda for the hip-hop generation and identify potential leaders.

Mr. Kitwana said effective political change would take four to six years and might require the formation of a coalition with the large number of white hip-hop fans.

The shadow

Rep. David Dreier predicted yesterday that “Bill Clinton will overshadow John Kerry in the coming weeks” with the release of his new book.

“It’s interesting the distinction made,” Mr. Dreier, California Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.” Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, also a guest on the program, “just said that Bill Clinton cared about people.” This week’s Economist said that John Kerry can’t relate to people unless they’re snowboarders. … So, yes, Bill Clinton is going to overshadow John Kerry in the coming weeks.”

He added, “I’m very proud of Bill Clinton’s embrace of core Republican principles,” such as free trade and balancing the budget.

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

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