- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

Door to door

A Democratic group crucial to Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign has paid felons — some convicted of sex offenses, assault and burglary — to conduct door-to-door voter-registration drives in at least three election swing states, the Associated Press reports.

America Coming Together, contending that convicts deserve a second chance in society, employs felons as voter canvassers in major metropolitan areas in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and likely in other states among the 17 it is targeting in the drive. Some of the felons have lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison.

ACT canvassers ask residents which issues are important to them and, if they are not registered, sign them up as voters. The canvassers gather telephone numbers and other personal information, such as driver’s license numbers or partial Social Security numbers, depending on what a state requires for voter registration.

Although it works against the re-election of President Bush, ACT is an independent group not affiliated with the Kerry campaign — federal law forbids such coordination. Yet ACT is stocked with veteran Democratic political operatives, many with past ties to Mr. Kerry and his advisers.

‘Wigged out’

Former President Bill Clinton says he was “pretty wigged out” with stress when he and Monica Lewinsky had an affair and said he thought he’d lose the office if he acknowledged it publicly in a timely fashion.

In a nationally broadcast interview yesterday, Mr. Clinton also said that he still feels sorry for Miss Lewinsky and hopes she “won’t be trapped in what Andy Warhol called everybody’s ‘15 minutes of fame,’” the Associated Press reports.

Continuing a series of public appearances in connection with the release of his memoirs, Mr. Clinton said, “I feel sorry because, as she said herself, she was betrayed by her friend and then she got caught up in this big media and Starr imbroglio,” a reference to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

“And none of it would have happened if I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I feel sorry about it,” Mr. Clinton said on NBC’s “Today” show. He called Miss Lewinsky “a really intelligent person and a fundamentally good person.”

Clinton’s standing

“A book cannot elevate a president. That’s true even for a book marketed by Dan Rather for an hour on ‘60 Minutes,’ its publication treated like a show-stopping event by the media, its author’s tour seen as the equivalent of a high-octane political campaign, and its importance signified by the expectation of an entire summer in which the author will never be far from the spotlight,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

Bill Clinton should not get his hopes up. Presidents are judged by their record, not their memoirs. At best, Clinton is Calvin Coolidge without the ethics and the self-restraint,” Mr. Barnes said, adding, “Clinton is not a failed president, only an insignificant one.”

CBS conflict

A CBSNews.com ad executive has acknowledged that the network’s Web site is a business partner with Amazon.com.

CBSNews.com sales director David Ghiraldini “verified the relationship but declined to discuss the partnership or its ethical ramifications for a news organization profiting from the sale of controversial political books, especially since CBS News isn’t known for being particularly friendly with conservative authors,” RatherBiased.com said yesterday.

“Ghiraldini became defensive after reading our earlier item which first disclosed the partnership, a story which he repeatedly insisted was ‘incorrect.’ When asked repeatedly what parts of RatherBiased.com’s story were in error, Ghiraldini declined to do so, insisting only that the story was incorrect.

“‘I don’t think I should have to tell you,’ the executive replied. ‘I’m just telling you it’s not correct. I just don’t think I can discuss this. Maybe I can call you back if I ever want to talk about it.’ …

“Besides its controversial vending of the books of authors featured on its news programming and its unprecedented decision to devote an entire ‘60 Minutes’ episode to Dan Rather’s dialogues with former president Bill Clinton, CBS has also come under fire for forcing all of its radio affiliates to carry a live town hall meeting featuring Clinton [today].

“‘It’s going to be like one big commercial for the book. Why didn’t Mr. Clinton’s publisher just buy an hour,’ a CBS Radio News affiliate exec told Matt Drudge last week. ‘This is not news; this is marketing. I already feel dirty.’”

Media ‘afraid’

“Most press accounts today of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee overlooked his slamming the media for acting ‘afraid’ in Iraq and publishing ‘rumors,’” Editor & Publisher reports.

“Most coverage has focused on the contentious exchanges between the No. 2 man at the Pentagon and the senior Democrat on the committee, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri. Skelton charged that the U.S. was falling into ‘a security quagmire’ in Iraq, adding, ‘We’re stuck.’

“Wolfowitz denied this, though he admitted ‘it’s entirely possible’ the U.S. military could remain in Iraq for years.

“Gaining less attention was that he identified the media as part of the problem in Iraq. ‘Frankly, part of our problem,’ Wolfowitz said, ‘is a lot of press are afraid to travel very much. So they sit in Baghdad, and they publish rumors.’

“He did not specify which rumors.” the magazine said on its Web site, www.editorandpublisher.com.

Nader’s advice

Democratic Sen.John Kerry is getting some advice on his choice for vice president from an unlikely source: rival Ralph Nader.

In an open letter sent yesterday, the independent presidential candidate urged Mr. Kerry to choose John Edwards as the running mate, saying the North Carolina senator and former trial lawyer has been vetted thoroughly and is committed to protecting the right of consumers to sue corporations that harm them.

Mr. Edwards “has already gone through a primary campaign and has his rhythm and oratory (the two Americas speech) all well-honed,” Mr. Nader wrote to Mr. Kerry. “After a slow start, Sen. Edwards closed fast and has won praise from the media.”

Foley’s challenge

Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, yesterday called on his Democratic colleagues to end their silence on the beheadings of American civilians Nick Berg and Paul M. JohnsonJr. and show the same outrage they showed in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison incidents.

Mr. Foley, in a floor speech, said no Democratic member of Congress has spoken on the floor of the House about the cruel slaying of Mr. Johnson, yet more then 20 Democratic members have mentioned Abu Ghraib more than 45 times since April.

“Mr. Chairman, I stand here amazed and disappointed in the self-righteous, politically motivated diatribes coming from the other side about Abu Ghraib,” Mr. Foley said, adding, “But, what I find especially appalling is the near-deafening silence from the other side following the savage beheadings of American civilians Nick Berg and Paul Johnson.”

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

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