- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

No clean sweep

It has been nearly five months since the emotionally charged 2004 presidential election drew to a close, and collectors of John Kerry campaign paraphernalia are still trying to unload their not-so-valuable merchandise.

Take the seller in Monona, Wis., who is peddling a Bruce Springsteen and John Kerry ticket stub from a concert in Madison on Oct. 28, when many Democrats thought the senator from Massachusetts was destined for the White House.

“Nice old ticket stub” is about all the seller can say on the Internet auction site EBay. Starting bid: 99 cents.

Another collector is auctioning off Mr. Kerry’s FBI files, military service records and CIA files — 2,934 pages archived on CD-ROM.

Most are FBI files, dating from 1967 to 1971, taken from 20,000 pages maintained by the bureau on the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and its members. The military records include paperwork dealing with Mr. Kerry’s Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Hearts, evaluations made by superiors, orders and duty assignments, and the Democrat’s discharge from the Navy. Starting bid: $9.

Finally, there has been just one bidder for Mr. Kerry’s “I Gotta Feeling! This is our Year!” Boston Red Sox pin, showing the candidate displaying his pitching style on the mound. Yes, it was the year for the Red Sox to go all the way. But it wasn’t a clean sweep.

Reunited again

During his two unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Senate — against Elizabeth Dole in 2002 and Richard M. Burr in 2004 — former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles all but distanced himself from his old boss, former President Bill Clinton.

Which didn’t prevent Mr. Clinton this week from landing his friend a high-profile job, appointing him deputy U.N. special envoy to oversee tsunami reconstruction efforts in South Asia while the former president recovers from surgery.

Until shortly before the 2004 election, polls had given Mr. Bowles a wide lead over Mr. Burr in the North Carolina race for Senate. One survey, conducted in July by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., showed Mr. Bowles 10 points ahead of his opponent.

That same month, while riding his campaign bus, Mr. Bowles told reporters he had not read Mr. Clinton’s best-selling book, although he downplayed reports that he was distancing himself from the impeached president.

“Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal. “It’s just not true. I’m really proud what I was able to do as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. … On the other hand, nobody’s tougher on the president for his personal failings.”

Closer to home

Jason Binn, New York-based chairman of Niche Media, which is starting Capitol File magazine in Washington later this year, was in town for another reason this week.

His brother, Jonathan Binstock, is the Corcoran Gallery’s curator of contemporary art, and Mr. Binn came to celebrate the opening of “Closer to Home,” Corcoran’s 48th Biennial.

Also on hand to offer his brother congratulations was Jeffrey Binstock, who works with Mr. Binn in the magazine business. The opening was followed by an after-party at Perry’s (lots of sushi), hosted by Capitol File.

The Corcoran Biennial is among the oldest continuous biennials in the world, founded in 1907 and focusing on new American work of exceptional quality. The “Closer to Home” show, which runs through June 27, marks a return to the exhibition’s origins in traditional media — canvas, paint and wood — while giving prominence to the work of Washington artists.

Up or down

An overwhelming majority of Americans — 82 percent — think qualified candidates for the nation’s highest courts deserve an up-or-down vote in the Senate, while a similar majority wants partisan politics removed from the judicial confirmation process.

“This sort of shoots what Harry Reid, Robert Byrd and others are saying about the right to filibuster right out of the water, huh?” says Washington publicist Mark Coyle, referring to recent remarks by the Democratic senators from Nevada and West Virginia respectively.

Examining the survey of 800 registered voters conducted on behalf of the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN) by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, JCN counsel Wendy Long says it is “abundantly clear that the American people are tired of the partisan, political maneuvering and the unwarranted character assassinations against qualified candidates for the federal bench.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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