- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Queen and I

CBS “Late Night” host David Letterman has added his two cents’ worth to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s assertion that he has met face to face with foreign leaders who, desiring a change in U.S. international policy, support his quest for the presidency.

The Washington Times this week conducted a survey of embassies from key countries that opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq — France, Germany and Russia among them — and could not confirm a single meeting between Mr. Kerry and visiting foreign leaders since the war began.

“John Kerry made a remark. He said a lot of world leaders want him to be president,” Mr. Letterman said. “Then the Bush administration said, ‘Yeah, well, like who?’ And then John Kerry said, ‘Well, I really can’t say.’ So now they’re really hammering John Kerry. The only name he could come up with: Queen Latifah.”

Calls to our Hollywood sources failed to locate the rapper queen and actress for comment — one representative suggested that her highness might be vacationing in Tahiti.

The Bushes

Former President George Bush opposed his son’s plan to attack Iraq because of a lack of an “exit strategy,” which has come back to haunt the current President Bush.

So it is written in “The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty,” by Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, a forthcoming book based on more than 60 hours of interviews with members of the Bush clan, including the former president and son Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The elder Mr. Bush had voiced concerns about his son going to war with Iraq to his sister, Nancy Ellis, according to Mr. Schweizer, who is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution (Mrs. Schweizer is a media consultant).

Mr. Bush’s former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, worried publicly last year that the 2003 march on Baghdad would destabilize the Middle East region.

“But concerns about an attack on Iraq were coming from even closer to home,” the authors write. “Although he never went public with them, the president’s own father shared many of Scowcroft’s concerns. As the prospects of war continued to grow throughout 2002, family members could see the former president’s anguish.

“When his sister, Nancy Ellis, asked him about the war, he responded: ‘But do they have an exit strategy?’”

The authors also write that President Bush sees the war on terrorism as a “religious war.” They also provide personal accounts by Bush family members of the president’s “anxiety” about fighting the war, and document how his daily Bible reading in the White House directly influences his decisions and language.

For instance, on the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, he rose early in the morning and read from Psalm 55:

My heart is in anguish with me;

The terrors of death assail me.

Destructive forces are at work in the city;

Threats and lies never leave its streets.

Let death take my enemies by surprise;

Let them go down alive to the grave,

For evil finds lodging among them.

Among other news-breaking items: Jeb Bush, said in the book to have a “difficult relationship” with his presidential brother, is making plans to run for president in 2008. The authors write that the Florida governor is presently, albeit quietly, putting together a campaign organization.

Here’s Al

It’s not often that CNN promotes the Fox News Channel, but when its guest is the Rev. Al Sharpton, arguably the most entertaining of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, exceptions are made.

CNN “Crossfire” host Paul Begala asked Mr. Sharpton about rumors that he plans to launch a cable TV show (granted possible future president John Kerry doesn’t appoint Mr. Sharpton secretary of state).

“Have you had any negotiations or talks with … Fox News, our competitors?” Mr. Begala asked.

“I think someone in a Fox News division sent us an idea about a reality script,” Mr. Sharpton said, adding that he hopes to be the host of a cable show and a network radio show.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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