- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Kerry fact-finders

Sen. John Kerry says he will “almost certainly” send his own team of experts to Iraq to refine his policy position on the war-torn country as he prepares for the presidential election, Time magazine reports.

“I may ask some Democratic colleagues and experts to go to Iraq and make this assessment so I have a strong basis on which to proceed,” the Massachusetts senator and presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee told the magazine.

Mr. Kerry mentioned the possibility of dispatching Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, foreign policy adviser Rand Beers and aide Nancy Stetson, Agence France-Presse said.

Hollywood dissident

Actor-director Vincent Gallo is a pariah in the show business community for his outspoken conservative views. In an interview with reporter Steve Miller of The Washington Times yesterday, Mr. Gallo noted one of the great Tinseltown ironies.

“I went to the Oscars this year and there were groups of actors showing up in these hybrid vehicles,” said Mr. Gallo, who also has released an album and scored several films. “I’m not going to name names. But not one of these clowns has been on a private plane less than 25 times. It’s one of those great radical cliches of good will that they have in Hollywood. It is a pathology. They want to feel good about something.”

Of course, we’re happy to name names.

According to news reports, said “clowns” in hybrid vehicles included Save-the-World couple Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, singer Sting and actor Robin Williams.

Mr. Gallo, who happily unleashes a stream of invective about Hollywood and its leftist inclinations, also noted the prevalence of photos of President Bill Clinton in the homes of the rich and famous.

“I seen more pictures of him, you know, the autographed photos, with like these sleazy babes,” Mr. Gallo said. “I mean pictures of a former president with two of these babes hanging on him. Can you imagine going to someone’s home and seeing a picture of Nixon with two hookers?”

Florida poll

Democratic Sen. John Kerry would defeat President Bush in Florida if the presidential election were held now, according to poll results released yesterday.

The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters showed that 49 percent would vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Mr. Kerry, 43 percent for Republican incumbent Mr. Bush and 3 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader. With eight months to go before the election, 5 percent were undecided, Reuters news agency reports.

The poll suggests that another photo finish could loom in the politically divided state that Mr. Bush won by 537 votes in 2000.

“Florida is in play,” said pollster Kellyanne Conway. “This poll clearly demonstrates that the state that gave us drama and nail-biting in 2000 is proving no differently in 2004.”

The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, right after the Massachusetts senator effectively clinched the Democratic nomination by winning contests in nine of 10 states on Super Tuesday. The survey had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

Kim and Kerry

James Taranto, who writes the Best of the Web Today column at www.OpinionJournal.com, picked up the following item from the Financial Times, which he said shows that “John Kerry has picked up an endorsement of sorts, from Kim Jong Il, the lunatic communist dictator of North Korea.”

“In the past few weeks, speeches by the Massachusetts senator have been broadcast on Radio Pyongyang and reported in glowing terms by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of Mr Kim’s communist regime. …” the Financial Times said.

“Rather than dealing with President George W. Bush and hawkish officials in his administration, Pyongyang seems to hope victory for the Democratic candidate on November 2 would lead to a softening in U.S. policy towards the country’s nuclear weapons programme.”

Mr. Taranto commented: “Oh well, things could be worse for Kerry. At least Al Gore hasn’t endorsed him.”

Kennedy and Kerry

Sen. John Kerry, who says it’s “neat” that fellow Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is campaigning for him, anticipates that the Republicans will try to use it as a liability, and is trying to distance himself somewhat politically from Mr. Kennedy, Newsweek reports.

Mr. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, disputes the idea that “Kennedy” is a dirty word and adds that any attempt to link him to Mr. Kennedy’s record “is not going to work, it’s so silly and infantile. I’ve been a deficit hawk since the day I arrived, so let them try,” he told reporter Melinda Henneberger.

Mr. Kerry describes himself as “much more of a devolution Democrat” than his primary-season protector. “My health-care plan is based on market incentives, very different from Ted’s. They’ll have trouble labeling me.”

Now that Mr. Kerry has sewn up the nomination, though, Republicans with long experience in running against Kennedys real and imagined are reveling in the connection. Footage from their primary-season road show is sure to figure prominently in Bush ads, Newsweek said.

What revenge?

Becky Whetstone has something to say to people who think they know why she’s running for Congress: Enough already with the jilted-wife-bent-on-revenge theory.

It’s true that her former husband holds the Texas congressional seat she is seeking. It’s also true that last year she announced she was writing a tell-much book titled “The Congressman’s Wife.” Yes, she says on her campaign Web site, she’s angry about his “cruelty and selfishness within the marriage, and then the one-sided injustice of the divorce.”

Despite all that, she insists she’s not running as an independent to get even with her ex, Democratic Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m telling people that it’s not the vengeful-wife scenario,” Miss Whetstone said, “and if people choose not to believe what I’m saying, then I can’t do anything about that.”

Comics’ choice

Some left-leaning political humorists may be secretly hoping that President Bush — whom they love to make fun of — is re-elected in December, but they say plenty of Democrats are good for a laugh, too.

Mr. Bush, whose tough-guy swagger and linguistic miscues have provided plenty of fodder for comedians, columnists and cartoonists, is the “gold standard” for the business, “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau said.

“I’d be crushed if he lost,” he said Saturday during a panel discussion at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., the Associated Press reports.

But it’s not just Mr. Bush who provides good material, panelists said.

“John Kerry is so stiff,” Time magazine’s White House correspondent Matthew Cooper said during a seminar called “Who’s Funnier — the Left or the Right?”

“You sort of see him sitting at home with a powdered wig watching C-SPAN,” Mr. Cooper said. “For John Kerry, being rebellious is having red wine with fish.”

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

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