- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

Mehlman’s job

“Amid the Cabinet reshuffling, little attention has been paid to the appointment of Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman as Republican National Committee chairman,” Michael Barone writes in U.S. News & World Report.

“But Mehlman’s appointment could turn out to be as significant for our politics as Condoleezza Rice’s is likely to be for foreign policy. If Karl Rove was the architect of George W. Bush’s thumping re-election victory, Mehlman was the structural engineer who turned the plans into reality,” Mr. Barone said.

“Mehlman’s great achievement was to create a largely volunteer organization of 1.4 million people who turned out the vote in counties big and small for Bush. He managed this task the way Rudolph Giuliani managed the New York City Police Department: by requiring metrics — numerical goals, validated by independent parties — to measure the work being done every week. This enabled the Bush organization to plug holes and to provide psychic rewards for those doing good work.

“No one (including Giuliani himself) thought Giuliani could cut crime in half in New York City; very few though that Mehlman could produce 10 million new votes for Bush. But Giuliani did it, and so did Mehlman.”

Frost’s future

Rep. Martin Frost, interviewed yesterday on CNN’s “Late Edition” with Wolf Blitzer, said he doubts the Democratic Party will choose him as its new chairman. However, the Texas Democrat, who was defeated for re-election, did not rule out the possibility.

“Are you inclined — do you want to be chairman of the Democratic Party, Congressman Frost?” Mr. Blitzer asked.

“Oh, I think that’s a decision to be made by a lot of other people,” Mr. Frost replied. “It’s a very complicated decision. I am looking forward to being in private life in Washington, D.C., and we’ll see what the future brings.”

Mr. Blitzer: “Well, you’re not ruling it out then.”

Mr. Frost: “I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s a very complicated matter, and I’d be surprised if it happened.”

Assassin game

A company in Scotland said yesterday it was releasing a video game re-creating the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A spokesman for the president’s brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, called the game “despicable.”

The Glasgow-based firm Traffic said “JFK Reloaded” was an educational “docu-game” that would help disprove conspiracy theories about Mr. Kennedy’s death. The game is due to be released today, the 41st anniversary of the shooting in Dallas, the Associated Press reports.

Traffic said the game challenged players to re-create the three shots fired at the president’s car by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository.

Traffic’s managing director, Kirk Ewing, said the game — available as an Internet download for $9.99 — would “stimulate a younger generation of players to take an interest in this fascinating episode of American history.”

In a statement, Traffic said it was “determined to promote the title respectfully,” given the sensitivity of the subject.

David Smith, spokesman for the Massachusetts senator, would not comment on whether the Kennedy family was taking any action to stop the game’s release.

“It’s despicable. There’s really no further comment,” Mr. Smith said, adding that the senator’s Washington office started getting calls about the game Friday.

The recount

Both of Washington state’s potential new governors have experienced the uncomfortable sensation of reading their own political obituaries, the Associated Press reports.

Republican Dino Rossi was his party’s fourth choice a year ago when he announced his run against a popular Democrat who seemed like the anointed successor to outgoing Democratic Gov. Gary Locke.

And the Democrat, state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, has seen members of her own party struggling to explain her fall from front-runner to underdog.

Their race was still undecided Saturday as a recount got under way. When all the state’s counties reported their tallies last Wednesday, Mr. Rossi had only 261 more votes than Mrs. Gregoire out of some 2.8 million ballots. State law requires a machine recount when the margin is less than 2,000 votes.

The process should be done by Wednesday, but the uncertainty could stretch into December if the candidates or parties demand a hand recount.

Mr. Rossi announced his candidacy a year ago, after the party leadership failed to recruit several high-profile Republicans. The two-term state senator wasn’t well-known outside his suburban Seattle district, but the party closed ranks around him.

McCain’s wait

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, says he will wait at least two years before deciding whether to seek his party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

“Look, I’m not running for president,” Mr. McCain said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding: “I do not foreclose the option.”

In 2000, Mr. McCain finished behind George W. Bush in what was sometimes a bitter primary campaign.

“There will be plenty of time to consider whether to run for president again, but certainly, I don’t think it’s in any way appropriate for me to speculate on that at this time,” Mr. McCain said on NBC.

He was asked when that time might come.

“I would think at least not for a couple of years,” Mr. McCain said. “You know, the president hasn’t even been inaugurated yet. Isn’t it a little unseemly for any of us to start on that path again?”

If Mr. McCain were to run, he would turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, at the height of the campaign. Only President Reagan was older at his inauguration — 73 at the start of his second term.

Asked whether age might be a factor in his decision whether to run, Mr. McCain said: “Yes, I think that would have to be a consideration,” he replied. However, he said, “I have a wonderful mother who is 92. Maybe I could use her as an example.”

Reading list

“When Natan Sharansky stepped into Condoleezza Rice’s West Wing office at 11:15 last Thursday morning, he had no idea the national security adviser would soon be named the next secretary of state. He was just glad to see her holding a copy of his newly published book, ‘The Case for Democracy,’” Joel C. Rosenberg writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“‘I’m already halfway through your book,’ Rice said. “Do you know why I’m reading it?’

“Sharansky, a self-effacing man who spent nine years in KGB prisons (often in solitary confinement) before becoming the first political prisoner released by Mikhail Gorbachev, hoped it had to do with his brilliant analysis and polished prose.” Mr. Rosenberg said.

“Rice smiled. ‘I’m reading it because the president is reading it, and it’s my job to know what the president is thinking.’

“A close friend of the president had sent over a copy several weeks earlier with a note urging him to take a close look. The president nearly polished it off during a weekend at Camp David, then suggested to Rice that she read it as well.”

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

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