- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Europe’s candidate

“So John Kerry wants to be leader of … France? Or was it Germany? Belgium or Saudi Arabia, anyone? Or perhaps he’s gunning for Kofi Annan’s job as head of the United Nations,” Adam Wolfson writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“I raise this question because Kerry may have said (and did later defend) that he’s the first choice of foreign leaders and that somehow this matters. According to Kerry, foreign leaders are lining up to tell him, ‘“You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy [President Bush].”’ And why might this be? Because, explain these foreign leaders to the Democratic nominee, ‘We need a new policy.’

“Now wait a minute, did I get that right? That foreign leaders need a new U.S. policy and that this is a good reason to vote for Kerry? I don’t mean to sound heedless of the opinions of mankind, but I’m honestly not sure many Americans care whether foreign leaders want ‘a new policy’ in this country.

“Last time I looked, foreign leaders don’t vote in U.S. presidential elections. One might add that they do not, by definition, have our best interests at heart,” asked Mr. Wolfson, who is editor of the Public Interest.

“Uh oh, there I’ve gone and hit a raw nerve. But before I’m accused of questioning Kerry’s patriotism, let me say that’s not my point exactly. We all know he fought bravely for his country in Vietnam and is one tough hombre. What I am saying is that Kerry thinks more like a European than an American. As with much of elite opinion in America, his sentiments and way of looking at the world have become Europeanized. Since he’s the one glorying in the approval of foreign leaders, he should take this as a compliment, not an insult.”

Florida rally

President Bush returns to Florida on Saturday for what promises to be a powerful show of grass-roots support in America’s biggest swing state, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The Bush-Cheney campaign has chosen Orlando for its first campaign rally in the country: no policy pronouncements, no fund raising, simply an opportunity to fire up the ground forces for a general-election campaign that’s in full throttle far earlier than typical election years, reporter Adam C. Smiths writes.

As many as 12,000 Florida Bush supporters are expected to attend the noon rally at the Orange County Convention Center. Afterward, many will hop in campaign vans to start knocking on doors, manning phone banks and mobilizing voters for Mr. Bush.

Kerry warned

Sen. John Kerry was told months before the September 11 attacks of lax security at the airport from which the attacks originated, according to a TV news report last night.

On May 6, 2001, Boston’s Fox affiliate WFXT aired a piece “showing how in 9 out of 10 tries, crews got knives and other weapons through security checkpoints at Boston’s Logan Airport.”

Jon Leiberman, the Washington bureau chief of Sinclair NewsCentral, reported last night that on May 7, retired Federal Aviation Administration agent Brian Sullivan wrote Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, a letter saying the report was just “the tip of the iceberg” in security problems at the senator’s hometown airport.

Mr. Sullivan’s letter reads in part: “with the concept of Jihad, do you think it would be difficult for a determined terrorist to get on a plane and destroy himself and all other passengers? … think what the result would be of a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day. The problem is that with our current screening system, this is more than possible. Given time, considering current threats, it is almost likely.”

The two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11 both took off from Logan Airport.

Another retired FAA agent, Steve Elson of Houston, told Sinclair NewsCentral that he sent several similar warnings to Mr. Kerry’s office, only to be brushed off because “I am not a constituent.”

According to Sinclair, Mr. Kerry forwarded the Fox tape Mr. Sullivan sent to the Department of Transportation, but “the correspondence [with the FAA agent] stops there.”

The network, which owns 62 TV stations nationwide, said Mr. Kerry declined to appear on camera for the report and that a Kerry spokesman did not provide a response in time.

Looking wimpy

“Regardless of whether you agree that one party tends to be nastier than the other in its attacks (and I don’t), this year’s Bush campaign has been anything but aggressive or quick to counterpunch,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Yes, it’s a long campaign, and the Republicans don’t need to waste all of their ammunition in March. And yes, the new Bush campaign ads have begun to spotlight Sen. John Kerry’s record in a way that Democrats won’t like.

“But in trying to stay somewhat above the fray and act ‘presidential,’ Mr. Bush — and even more importantly, his campaign — are starting to look a little, well, wimpy.”

Mr. Rothenberg added: “It’s hard to understand Kerry’s recent complaints about the Republicans’ ‘negative attacks,’ especially after the months of attacks that the president absorbed from the Democratic presidential field.”

Border bolster

Arizona’s congressional delegation applauded a Department of Homeland Security decision yesterday to begin a $10 million law-enforcement initiative on Arizona’s southern border to dismantle alien-smuggling operations that have spawned violence 200 miles north into the Phoenix metropolitan area.

“For too long, Arizona’s border has been the gateway for illegal immigrants,” said Rep. Jim Kolbe, a 10-term Republican.

State and local law-enforcement authorities in southern Arizona have told Homeland Security officials they are under siege from illegal aliens, along with smugglers of aliens and drugs, who have caused a significant increase in violent crimes throughout the area, particularly in Phoenix.

Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, who heads border and transportation security for the department, said the Arizona Border Control Initiative would seek “operational control” of Arizona’s 350-mile border with Mexico.

Mr. Hutchinson said the $10 million program includes agents and inspectors from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration, and would impair smuggling operations, decrease the rate of violent crime and reduce the need for social services in southern Arizona.

Call the police

Boston police picketed a news conference in which the city’s mayor and civic leaders announced party sites for July’s Democratic National Convention, United Press International reports.

Mayor Thomas Menino and convention organizers said many of the events and delegation parties will be outside downtown Boston.

But the announcement was nearly drowned out by shouting from about 100 members of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association and the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, bent on drawing attention to their ongoing contract talks.

The Boston Globe reported that one protester said, “If there’s money for a party, there’s money for us to have a contract.”

Some unions representing city workers have been using the threat of a picket line around the Fleet Center, where the Democrats will gather for their convention, as a negotiating ploy. The head of one of the city’s police unions said he would expect delegates to honor the picket lines.

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

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