- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2006

The strategy

“If Democrat Claire McCaskill wins her Senate race in Missouri next week, her victory won’t rest, for the most part, on any policy proposal or characteristic particular to her — precisely as she intended from the start of her campaign. Nor has she made the focus of the race Jim Talent, the incumbent Republican she is trying to unseat. Instead, she’s running against George W. Bush,” Brendan Miniter writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Ms. McCaskill’s strategy, like that of Democrats across the country, has been to ‘nationalize’ the election by making it a referendum on the president. She spends a considerable amount of time blurring the boundaries between the unpopular Republican in the White House and a Republican-controlled Senate. …

“Sen. Talent, for his part, has not been caught up in scandal or made gaffes. He has been attentive to home-state voters. He has championed laws on apple-pie issues such as curbing the use of methamphetamines and supporting research into sickle-cell anemia, a disease that afflicts African-Americans acutely. He promotes breast cancer awareness by having St. Louis’s 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch lit pink one night each year,” Mr. Miniter wrote.

By taking care of smaller issues and not messing up, “Mr. Talent has ensured that the race will focus on larger, more controversial topics. Thus the Missouri race is a relatively pure expression of the Democratic attempt to make the election a referendum on the Bush administration. And it may illustrate the flaws in the strategy of putting few substantive ideas on the table and instead counting on discontent with the Republican Party. Voters clearly aren’t happy with the status quo, but neither do they seem convinced that the alternative is any better.”

Kerry’s trait

“The first time I met Sen. John Forbes Kerry was shortly before 9/11, when I was sitting in the office of a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee talking to a young staffer about European defense,” Toby Harnden writes in the Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper.

“Suddenly, the Massachusetts senator strode into the room and plonked himself, hands on hips, between us. Then he just stood there, clearly expecting us to jump up because he had graced us with his hallowed presence,” Mr. Harnden said.

“He turned his back on me and I studied his perfectly arranged thatch — this was a man who has spent some time on coiffing his hair that morning (or maybe he had someone to do it for him) — as he barked questions and demands at the astonished aide.

“Many people in Washington have similar DYKWIA — Don’t You Know Who I Am? — anecdotes about Kerry that reveal his narcissistic conceit that it is all about him, all the time. This trait is the key to the kerfuffle over Kerry’s comment at a California rally that: ‘Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.’

“The words were clumsy and, yes, an insult to American troops. I have no doubt that he didn’t mean to say that US soldiers in Iraq are dumb cannon fodder but that’s what came out. He was trying to say that Bush was stupid (though the Texan’s grade-point average at Yale was higher than that of Kerry) — a jibe that plays well in Europe but not in much of Middle America.”

The flu vote

Houston has stopped offering free flu shots at early voting sites after Republicans complained that it was a ploy by the mayor to lure more Democrats to the polls.

The vaccinations, for people 50 and older, had been offered at early voting sites in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Health officials said they were targeting medically underserved areas, not Democratic neighborhoods.

“There was no political motive whatsoever to do it,” said Mayor Bill White, the former head of the Texas Democratic Party. He said he ended the program Wednesday, after it provided 1,300 flu shots over three days, because he didn’t want “to spend more money in defending a baseless lawsuit than we’re giving away in vaccine or allow anybody to question the integrity of the political process,” the Associated Press reports.

But some Republicans accused Mr. White of using the program to boost Democrats’ election prospects. Harris County Republican Chairman Jared Woodfill said the offer violated a state law that bars people from accepting anything in exchange for a vote.

“I think the program was completely motivated by a plan to turn out Democratic voters,” Mr. Woodfill said.

A $320,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded “Vote and Vax” flu-shot drives in Houston and 24 other U.S. cities, according to the health advocacy organization. The 10-year-old program targets communities where relatively few people get flu shots.

Keeping quiet

A Republican congressman whose ex-mistress accused him of abuse agreed to pay her about $500,000 in a settlement last year that contained a powerful incentive for her to keep quiet until after Election Day, a person familiar with the terms of the deal told the Associated Press.

Rep. Don Sherwood is locked in a tight re-election race against a Democratic opponent who has seized on the four-term congressman’s relationship with the woman. While Mr. Sherwood acknowledged the woman was his mistress, he denied abusing her and said that he had settled her $5.5 million lawsuit on confidential terms.

The settlement, reached in November 2005, called for Cynthia Ore to be paid in installments, said a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is confidential. She has received less than half the money so far, and will not get the rest until after the Tuesday election, the person said yesterday.

A confidentiality clause requires Miss Ore to forfeit some of the money if she talks publicly about the case, said this person and two others familiar with elements of the case.

Senators’ slur

“The same week that the AP and other news agencies admitted Kyoto [Protocol on global warming] was not working as planned, Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Olympia J. Snowe urged a major energy company to stop contributing money to groups ‘whose public advocacy,’ they claimed, ‘has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth.’ The senators even singled out this Web site for opprobrium,” Nick Schulz writes at www.tcsdaily.com.

“This slur against TCS is irksome because it’s obvious the Senators do not read the site they denounce. TCS has run pieces asserting climate change is real and mankind has an influence over climate. If they bothered to contact me before denouncing the site I edit, I could have alerted them to that,” said Mr. Schulz, who edits the Web site.

“The denial on display here is on the part of the Senators, who issued their letter the same week the United Nations publicly admits Kyoto’s supporters are failing to reach their goals.”

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

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