- The Washington Times - Monday, December 5, 2005

Kerry’s words

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, yesterday accused American troops of “terrorizing” Iraqi women and children — a task, he said, that is best left to Iraqi soldiers.

Interviewed by Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mr. Kerry was talking about what he said was a need to “transfer authority to the Iraqis,” when he added: “And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the — historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that.”

Warming to McCain

“It has never been entirely clear just who makes up the Republican establishment — businessmen? evangelicals? freepers? — but it is clear that they’ve never liked John McCain,” Byron York writes in the New Republic.

“A look at the coverage of McCain’s 2000 presidential primary campaign reveals hundreds of instances in which the Arizona senator is depicted as waging heroic battle against the GOP establishment, and the establishment is depicted as fighting back just as hard, if less heroically. The establishment’s efforts ‘to kneecap the hated McCain,’ wrote Joe Klein after McCain won the 2000 New Hampshire primary, ‘are likely to grow uglier as the South Carolina primary approaches.’ Indeed they did, and McCain went down,” Mr. York said.

“Of course, in defeating McCain, the Republican establishment made a pretty good choice; it got a two-term presidency and all that goes along with it out of the deal. But now, as that presidency moves into lame duckhood — with no designated successor to George W. Bush — McCain is still there, and he’s getting another look from some of the people who fought against him six years ago. Although, at this point, the 2008 polls reflect name recognition more than anything else, McCain is near the top of them, and he’s also dominating what might be called the invisible primary of the activists and insiders who play key roles in the presidential primaries.

“There are several reasons why GOP establishment types are warming to the man they once rejected — and who rejected them. First is the loyalty McCain showed toward Bush in the last election. Second is his stand on the war in Iraq. Third is his hard line on federal spending. And the fourth reason is not an issue, but the absence of one: In 2008, McCain, having won his fight for campaign finance reform, will no longer be showcasing a cause that most Democrats loved but most Republicans hated.”

No public relations

George Bush may be the feistiest president since Teddy Roosevelt,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Dubya looks like the kind of guy who’d get in your face real fast if he weren’t wound so tight behind that presidential reserve. So why, until this [past] week, has he allowed himself to get beaten to a pulp on the Iraq war?” Mr. Henninger asked.

“One of the great mysteries of public life has been the absence of an organized Bush effort to defend the war. To the extent there has been bad news and worse spin about the war’s course, both the Bush White House and Defense Department have been pretty much willing to take it in the neck. Prior to this [past] week’s Annapolis speech and the release of a 38-page ‘Iraq national strategy,’ senior staffers at both the White House and Defense have privately vented frustration and even bitterness at the absence or incompetence of what is known as the war’s ‘public diplomacy.’ Similarly, there’s been no real effort to build a homefront to support the troops.

“The war isn’t unique. In November, opinion-poll approval of Mr. Bush’s economic management was below 40 percent. This is astounding. As the Review & Outlook columns noted [Thursday], this [past] week’s revised third-quarter growth rate of 4.3 percent was the 10th straight quarter of growth averaging nearly 4 percent on an annual basis. Economic ‘public diplomacy’ is part of a Treasury secretary’s portfolio. Jim Baker in the second Reagan term and Bob Rubin across two Clinton terms relentlessly promoted their boss’s economic policies. On Wednesday, Treasury printed out a supportive statement over Secretary John [W.] Snow’s name; [Thursday] the secretary was in London — discussing European growth. Running a 4.3 percent quarter in the face of Katrina is shout-from-the-rooftop news, but for this administration it’s just another tree falling in the forest.

“This is the Alfred E. Neuman, ‘What, me worry?’ school of public relations. It doesn’t seem quite appropriate for a major war.”

Almost treed

When it comes to Christmas, political correctness apparently lasts only about a half-hour in Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue‘s office.

A press release sent by the governor’s office Friday afternoon announced plans for a “holiday tree” lighting ceremony at the governor’s mansion in Atlanta.

Thirty minutes later, the Associated Press reports, a second release went out reading: “It is, in fact, a Christmas tree.”

The second press release blamed the earlier wording on “a politically correct staff brain-freeze,” adding, “The staffer responsible can be contacted at P.O. Box 432, Anchorage, Alaska, 99501.”

Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan said there’s no doubt where the Republican governor comes down on the wording.

“When the governor learns that one of my staffers even inadvertently used the words ‘holiday tree,’ I am probably going to be in trouble,” Mr. McLagan said. “It does go to show the pervasiveness of the media influence that that word would even occur to someone to use in that context.”

Newsman Leno

“After leading their evening newscasts with Democratic [Rep.] John [P.] Murtha‘s call for a withdrawal from Iraq, the ABC and CBS shows on Tuesday skipped Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman‘s disclosure that, after a recent trip to Iraq, he saw ‘real progress’ and argued against withdrawing troops,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“The ‘NBC Nightly News’ merely gave Lieberman a brief soundbite. But on Wednesday’s ‘Tonight Show’ on NBC, Jay Leno raised the perspective of the 2000 Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate with Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Leno characterized Lieberman’s position as one which ‘more or less agrees with the president’ as he pressed Dean: ‘How about Joe Lieberman now? Obviously a prominent Democrat. … He came back, and he’s been there a few times to Iraq. And he more or less agrees with the President, correct?’

“Dean, who dismissed Bush’s speech as ‘repetitive dribble,’ began his answer: ‘Everybody gets to march to their own drummer in this party.’”

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

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