- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

‘Democratic wave’?

“The evidence is piling up: President Bush’s numbers are sliding; more Americans say the country is headed ‘off on the wrong track’; and voters are announcing in ‘generic ballot tests’ that they intend to vote Democratic for Congress,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“It’s time to ponder whether we are witnessing the early stages of a Democratic wave that could overwhelm congressional Republicans in November,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“Speaking on background, Democratic consultants I contacted recently welcomed the new political environment — but they acknowledged that the party is not yet within hailing distance of retaking the House.

“Instead, party insiders are content to argue that the new landscape offers them an opportunity later this year to make substantial gains — gains they had not seriously contemplated six to eight months ago.

“That seems about right to me,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

Outcry in Boston

Boston’s mayor says Sen. John Kerry shouldn’t delay accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president to take advantage of campaign-finance rules.

Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Globe that the Massachusetts senator should accept the nomination at the convention in Boston. With primary elections now deciding the party’s candidate during the winter, the acceptance is one of the rare moments of drama in the four-day conventions.

Mr. Kerry on Friday said he may delay accepting the nomination so he can continue to spend unlimited amounts of privately raised funds during the month before the Republican convention.

Kerry’s expose

“Thank you, John Kerry,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“The news that the Massachusetts senator may delay accepting the presidential nomination until several weeks beyond the Democratic Party’s late-July Boston convention exposes two truths that the political class hates to admit,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“The first is that the party conventions are now little more than free advertising vehicles. They long ago lost all political drama, but this year one of them may not even nominate a candidate. The next step would be for the media finally to agree not to cover them, though we probably won’t because these week-long affairs have also become the equivalent of cardiologist conventions for the political press. We get to see old friends and eat well on expense accounts.

“Even better, this Kerry trial balloon exposes campaign-finance limits as a monumental farce. The Kerry camp is considering this maneuver so it can keep raising and spending money as long as possible without having to abide by spending limits that kick in once a party formally nominates its candidate.

“Of course, the late July date was the Democratic Party’s own choice — and it was selected precisely so it would let the nominee accept matching federal campaign funds a month earlier than President Bush, who will be nominated in late August. The assumption had been that the Democratic candidate would have run out of cash by this summer, but Mr. Kerry has been raising more money than he expected. In other words, Mr. Kerry embraced the rules when they helped him, but now wants to ignore them when they don’t.”

Military moves

The Army general who was in charge of the U.S. prison guards accused of abusing Iraqis has been suspended from command of the 800th Military Police Brigade, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski and other officers in her brigade were faulted by Army investigators for paying too little attention to the prison’s day-to-day operations and not acting strongly enough to discipline soldiers under her command for violating standard procedures.

Gen. Karpinski’s suspension, which has not been announced by the Army, came the same day that Reuters news agency reported that the Pentagon is considering replacing Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as the top U.S. military officer in Iraq.

But a senior defense official called the move routine, telling Reuters that Gen. Sanchez has served in Iraq for 13 months, and that Army and Marine Corps division commanders all have rotated out of the country during that period.

When asked whether the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, which took place on Gen. Sanchez’s watch, was the reason for considering a replacement for the general, this official said, “Absolutely not.”

ABC News reported that Gen. George Casey, vice chief of staff of the Army, would take over as senior U.S. military officer in Iraq.

Colorado vs. France

Gov. Bill Owens, Colorado Republican, brought the house down over the weekend during a keynote speech to 2,000 at the Michigan Republican Party convention by making fun of the “bete noire” nation among conservatives.

“You know why they planted those big trees along the boulevard in Paris? So the invading armies could march in the shade,” the Denver Post reported Mr. Owens as saying.

And, he continued, “You know why the new French navy has glass-bottom boats? So it can see the old French navy.”

C’est dommage, responded Nathalie Loiseau at the French Embassy, admonishing the two-term governor for “uselessly practicing French-bashing for the purpose of playing politics.”

Twice in the past year, Mr. Owens has refused meetings with French diplomats visiting Denver.

Boos for a lefty

Novelist E.L. Doctorow “was nearly booed off the stage at Hofstra University on Sunday when he gave a commencement address lambasting President George W. Bush and effectively calling him a liar,” Newsday reports.

“Booing that came mainly from the crowd in the stands became so intense that Doctorow stopped speaking at one point, showing no emotion as he stood silently and listened to the jeers. Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz intervened, and called on the audience to allow him to finish. He did, although some booing persisted,” reporter Bart Jones says of the event at the Hempstead, N.Y., college.

“Doctorow, who spent virtually all of his 20-minute address in Hempstead criticizing Bush, told the crowd that, like himself, the president is a storyteller. But ‘sadly they are not good stories this president tells,’ he said. ‘They are not good stories because they are not true.’ That line provoked the first boos, along with scattered cheers.

After the university president’s intervention, “some students and most of the faculty responded with a standing ovation, and Doctorow resumed speaking,” the newspaper said. “He attacked Bush for giving the rich tax breaks, doing ‘a very poor job of combating terrorism’ and allowing the government to subpoena libraries ‘to see what books you’ve been taking out.’

“Many parents and relatives of the more than 1,300 undergraduates were livid over the address, saying afterward that a college graduation was not the place for a political speech. ‘If this would have happened in Florida, we would have taken him out’ of the stadium, said Frank Mallafre, who traveled from Miami for his granddaughter’s graduation.”

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

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