- The Washington Times - Monday, September 27, 2004

‘A terrible blunder’

“John Kerry, who has evidently decided to replace Howard Dean as the antiwar candidate, last weekend helped to magnify the terrorists’ kidnap weapon,” New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

“In a scheduled commercial Kerry personally approved, just before charging that George Bush had no plan to get us out of Iraq, the Democratic campaign underscored the message [terrorist leader Abu Musab] Zarqawi has been sending: ‘Americans,’ said Kerry’s announcer, ‘are being kidnapped, held hostage, even beheaded.’

“Though undoubtedly accurate, that paid evocation of horror by a political candidate is a terrible blunder. That’s the sort of emotional appeal you would expect from President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, who pulled 51 troops out of Iraq, caving to the demand of kidnappers, emboldening them to grab fresh victims.

“It’s bad enough for some thoughtless media outlets to become an echo chamber for scare propaganda; it’s worse when the nominee of a major party approves its use to press his antiwar candidacy.”

Carville’s commitment

“‘We either pull out all the stops over the next few weeks or we will live to regret it.’ That’s James Carville, beginning a recent fund-raising letter on behalf of the Democratic National Committee,” the New Republic says in its editorial Notebook.

“It sounds reasonable enough, until you consider that Carville himself hasn’t exactly been giving his all to the Democratic effort,” the magazine said.

“Yes, he and Paul Begala are playing an increasingly prominent role, according to the New York Times, in advising the Kerry campaign; but Carville and Begala are also keeping their day jobs as hosts of CNN’s ‘Crossfire.’ So far, this split-time arrangement has mostly brought grief upon CNN, and not just from the usual suspects. The liberal Times columnist Frank Rich wrote [on Sept. 19] that ‘Crossfire’ and CNN ‘are now as inextricably bound to the Democrats as Fox is to the Republicans.’

“But, while Rich and others attacking CNN are right to do so, all this criticism of the network lets Carville and Begala off the hook. The Carville-Begala-CNN mini-scandal wouldn’t even be a story if the two simply took a leave of absence from ‘Crossfire.’ But neither one is willing to do so.

“So, while Carville has no compunction about asking Democrats to ‘take out your checkbook, right now, and write the most generous contribution you can afford,’ he himself is not willing to forgo his fat CNN salary to help Kerry out and put an end to this needless distraction from the Kerry campaign’s message. If this is the most commitment Kerry can get from two of his party’s leading operatives, it’s no wonder his campaign is in trouble.”

Kerry’s misfire

John Kerry’s presidential campaign says the candidate does not actually own a Chinese assault rifle, as he was quoted as saying in the October issue of Outdoor Life magazine.

A Kerry spokesman blamed the error on campaign aides who filled out the questionnaire on behalf of Mr. Kerry, the New York Times reports.

Spokesman Michael Meehan said Mr. Kerry owns two guns, a double-barreled shotgun and the rifle, which has no markings and had never been fired. Such rifles were manufactured in Russia more than a century ago and were used by the North Koreans and the Viet Cong, he said.

The magazine asked Mr. Kerry, “What is your favorite gun?” and published this response:

“My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam. I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

The New York Times reported, “Though the comment was presented by Outdoor Life as part of an ‘exclusive interview with the two presidential candidates,’ four pages that included many long, conversational answers using first-person pronouns, Mr. Meehan said Mr. Kerry’s portions were written by his staff. A public relations representative for Outdoor Life did not respond to a message seeking comment.”

No call to battle

The House Democrats’ theme for the 2004 elections, “New Partnership for America’s Future,” is unlikely to create a “partisan wave,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

The theme was announced last week by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader.

“For all their chest pounding, I still get the feeling that Democrats really don’t believe that their time has yet come,” Mr. Rothenberg said. “Oh, they can win a presidential election and, possibly, one house of Congress, but their confidence is shaky.

“Pelosi and her Democratic brethren in the Senate aren’t really proposing a new approach to government, the way Ronald Reagan did in 1980 or the Republicans did in taking on 40 years of Democratic control of the House. If they thought a full-frontal attack on Republican rule would work, they would do it.

“Instead, we are left with a ‘New Partnership.’ It has a nice ring, and at least Pelosi is trying to do something. But it’s hardly a call to battle.”

Funereal ad

A new political ad features a coffin, funeral music and an actress portraying Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican, snatching a watch from a corpse.

The TV ad says Mrs. Musgrave, as a state lawmaker, voted against a bill that would have prevented nursing homes from billing the dead, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

“Isn’t it time we have a representative in Washington who truly represents Colorado values?” a narrator asks.

The ad, which began airing Wednesday, was paid for by a political-issues committee financed by three wealthy Coloradans connected to left-leaning causes, records show.

Some Coloradans — including Democrats and nursing home advocates — are outraged over the ad, the news service said.

Stan Matsunaka, the Democrat running in the 4th Congressional District, said he hasn’t seen the ad, and had nothing to do with it.

The group behind the ad is Colorado Families First. Records show the donors are Tim Gill, a retired software entrepreneur and founder of the Gill Foundation, a homosexual rights organization; state Board of Education member Jared Polis; and philanthropist Pat Stryker.

The old pro

“Joe Lockhart was supposed to be the Clintonite pro who came in and saved the Kerry campaign,” Mickey Kaus writes in his Kausfiles column for Slate (https://slate.msn.com/id/2106976/).

“So far he’s a) embroiled the campaign in the Dan Rather/Bill Burkett CBS memo fiasco and b) ham-handedly called Iraqi interim P.M. [Iyad] Allawi a ‘puppet.’ … But I hear he’s a good closer!”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]m.

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