- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Endorsing security

“It’s about national security.”

So write the editors of the Lowell Sun, who read Sen. John Kerry as well as anyone.

“We in Massachusetts know John Kerry. He got his first taste of politics 32 years ago in the cities and towns of Greater Lowell,” the newspaper states. “Americans aren’t fools. They know that without safe cities and towns, America will lose … our cherished freedoms … along with our opportunities for economic prosperity and our basic pursuit of happiness.”

They write that “Islamic extremists, both here and abroad, have one purpose: To destroy America and halt the spread of democracy and religious tolerance around the globe.”

And the endorsement goes to?

“Since the devastating terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, one American leader has maintained an unbending resolve to protect our homeland and interest against Islamic savages and those foreign governments appeasing them. That leader is President Bush.”

Bush rod

If voting is a religious act, will worship be on the rise in November?

“Historically,” says the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, “Americans voted out of a religion called civic duty. That religious impulse is almost totally gone.”

Yet despite the underlying disengagement from the political system during the past four decades — turnout in the 2004 presidential, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries reached record lows — next month’s presidential election “should produce higher turnout.”

Almost every poll measuring citizen interest in the 2004 election reveals “substantially higher levels” than in 1996 and 2000. In fact, the committee is predicting the highest voter turnout since the 1960s — upwards of 121 million, compared with 105 million who voted in 2000.

Reason for the sudden engagement?

“The presidency of George W. Bush has been a lightning rod, creating highly emotional supporters and detractors, and even those in the middle and uncertain about their choice feel conflicting but strong pulls in both directions,” the committee states.

Case in point?

If electorate enthusiasm in Arlington County — a stone’s throw across the Potomac River from the White House — is any indication, expect higher voter turnout for the 2004 presidential election.

Prior to yesterday’s deadline in Virginia, the county experienced record levels of voter registration — nearly double the number of newly registered voters in September compared with the same month leading up to the 2000 presidential sweepstakes between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Wes Weidemann, founder of the nonpartisan grass-roots registration group Virginia Votes, says because of the rapid rise in voter interest, the county ran out of state-issued voting applications and had to rely on “photocopies.”

In addition, Linda Linberg, Arlington’s general registrar, said she had to employ additional help to handle 3,000-plus voter-registration forms submitted each week. Applications for absentee ballots in the county were 55 percent ahead of 2000, while there was a net 530 percent increase of overseas voters.

Andrews trilogy

Robert Andrews, who resorts to Washington’s mean streets as the setting for his page-turning detective novels, was feted recently at Georgetown’s Cafe Milano in celebration of his newest mystery, “A Murder of Justice.”

A former Green Beret, Mr. Andrews was a top special-operations adviser to Defense SecretaryDonald H. Rumsfeld in the year after September 11. He’s done it all in Washington’s national security circles, having once analyzed intelligence for the CIA and former Sen. John Glenn, Ohio Democrat.

The remnants of Hurricane Jeanne lashing at the cafe’s front window provided a suitably dark and rainy backdrop for Mr. Andrews to tempt the crowd with his latest mystery, which follows “A Murder of Promise” and “A Murder of Honor.”

Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” Mr. McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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