- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2007

Edwards denies war

Democrat John Edwards yesterday repudiated the notion that there is a “global war on terror,” calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained American military resources and emboldened terrorists.

In a defense-policy speech he planned to deliver in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Edwards called the war on terror a “bumper sticker” slogan Mr. Bush had used to justify everything from abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison to the invasion of Iraq, the Associated Press reports.

“We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission-focused on protecting Americans from 21st-century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes,” Mr. Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery. “By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set — that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam.”

In the first presidential debate last month in South Carolina, Mr. Edwards was one of four Democrats — including Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska — who said they did not think there was a global war on terrorism. Front-runners Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois indicated that they did.

Knifing Edwards’

Bob Shrum, the famed consultant to a string of failed Democratic presidential candidates, including Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, seems determined to embarrass his former client and current presidential hopeful John Edwards in the forthcoming book “No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner,” the New Republic’s Michael Crowley writes at www.tnr.com

Mr. Shrum’s book “repeatedly portrays Edwards as a hyper-ambitious phony,” Mr. Crowley said.

For example, Mr. Shrum says Mr. Kerry had qualms about choosing Mr. Edwards to be his presidential running mate in 2004, but grew “even queasier” after Mr. Edwards said he was going to share a story with Mr. Kerry he had never told anyone else — that after his son, Wade, had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home and hugged his body and promised that he would do all he could to make life better for people.

“Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before — and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn’t pick Edwards unless he met with him again.”

Mr. Shrum says that, in the end, Mr. Kerry “wished that he’d never picked Edwards, that he should have gone with his gut” and selected former Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

“In other words, it may be both Shrum and Kerry who are knifing Edwards here,” Mr. Crowley said.

Amateur hour

Senate Democrats haven’t resorted to writing legislation on cocktail napkins yet, but an amended copy of the immigration bill — sent as a PDF attachment via e-mail Tuesday afternoon — included an addition on Page 224, in Section 409 of the bill, scrawled in barely legible handwriting.

“It’s like a high school student council in the Senate these days — handwritten bills in the electronic age,” one Republican staffer complained. “What’s next? Color by numbers and connect the dots? Imagine handing this document in to your boss. Now remind yourself that these are the people running our country.”

Bypassing Iowa

Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton’s deputy campaign manager wrote a memo this week making the case for the Democratic presidential candidate to bypass the Iowa caucuses and focus on later contests in the nomination fight.

The memo by Mike Henry is a sign of division among the New York Democrat’s strategic advisers. It was described generally by two senior Clinton advisers who, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was little chance the senator would take his advice.

Harold Ickes, a top Clinton strategist, said the campaign is studying various options for dealing with the rush of nomination contests in early 2008, including bypassing Iowa, but he said the senator was determined to continue her Iowa campaign.

“Every campaign games out different scenarios, and this is one scenario,” he said. “The campaign is moving in Iowa, is going to stay in Iowa, and Mrs. Clinton is very dedicated to winning the state.”

Officials said Mr. Henry’s memo argues that Mrs. Clinton would be wise to use money and time now dedicated in Iowa to compete in New Hampshire and later primaries, especially on Feb. 5 when as many as 20 states hold Democratic primaries.

The officials who described the memo said the fact that its existence has leaked outside the campaign almost assures that Mrs. Clinton will be forced to stay the course in Iowa, the Associated Press reports. They said there are some in Mrs. Clinton’s camp who want to her to skip Iowa, and the memo was designed to ensure that the option was fully debated. Others in her inner circle have argued that Iowa has been a focal point of the campaign for too long to be abandoned and say that the senator has long shared their view.

Dodd’s ad

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut is taking on his Democratic presidential rivals — again.

Mr. Dodd, in a new ad, directly confronts fellow Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, pack leaders in the Democratic field. He notes his support for legislation that would have cut off funds for the war in Iraq by March 31, 2008. In an ad two weeks ago, he challenged other Democrats to join him.

“It worked,” an announcer in his new ad says. “Now Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have changed their positions to follow Chris Dodd.”

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton did vote with Mr. Dodd last week to end debate on the cutoff measure and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

“Soon Chris Dodd will be talking … about his plan to stop global warming,” the ad goes on. “Maybe the other candidates will follow Chris Dodd on global warming, too.”

Mr. Dodd’s ad is running in New Hampshire and Iowa and is similar in cost to a relatively modest $120,000 purchase of television time for his ad two weeks ago.

Behind the headline

The headline in USA Today declared: “Poll: Most Muslims seek to adopt American lifestyle.”

Blogger Ace of Spaces, ace.mu.nu, declared: “Personally, I’m a little bit more worried about the 26 percent of young Muslim males who want to kill me, but it’s good to know that ‘most Muslims’ seek to adopt the American lifestyle.’ (Which may or may not involve killing Americans.)”

The USA Today story was based on a Pew Research Center poll that found that 26 percent of U.S. Muslims under age 30 believe that suicide bombings can be justified. The same poll found only 40 percent of U.S. Muslims believe that “Arab men” carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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

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