Monday, April 5, 2004

Eight weeks

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry hopes to select a vice presidential running mate within eight weeks, the New York Times reports, citing unnamed Democratic officials.

The Democratic presidential candidate thinks an accelerated schedule for choosing a vice presidential candidate would, in the end, help him raise money and respond to Bush administration attacks, reporter Adam Nagourney writes.

Mr. Kerry has asked an old friend and Washington hand, James A. Johnson, to screen potential running mates.

“Mr. Johnson has had conversations with at least four contenders for the nomination, Democratic officials said. They are Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Gov. Thomas J. Vilsack of Iowa,” the reporter said.

“Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico are all at the top of the list of states that both parties view as being in contention in the fall.

“Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who has signaled his interest in being Mr. Kerry’s running mate, had not, as of Friday, been contacted by Mr. Johnson, his aides said, though Democrats close to the selection cautioned against reading too much into that. Other Democrats being considered, though not as intensely, include former Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, though Mr. Kerrey said in an interview that he would probably not take the position if offered it.

“Democrats close to Mr. Kerry, including some advisers, said Sen. John S. McCain, Republican of Arizona, remained a highly alluring choice. One adviser said that choice would almost guarantee Mr. Kerry’s election. Mr. McCain, who like Mr. Kerry is a Vietnam veteran, has said he does not want to cross party lines to join a Kerry ticket, though some of Mr. Kerry’s aides held out the hope of a personal entreaty by the Massachusetts senator.

False picture

When it comes to the economy, the national news media have been acting as “the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly writes.

“In his story March 26 on the likelihood that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice would testify again before the commission investigating the September 11 attacks, Adam Nagourney of the New York Times wrote: ‘With the economy faltering and Democrats so united, Mr. Bush’s terrorism credentials are portrayed by his supporters as the strongest assets he had going against Mr. Kerry.’

“Even if it were true, it would have been of dubious relevance for Nagourney to include the phrase ‘with the economy faltering’ in a story on an unrelated topic. But it isn’t true. The Commerce Department reported March 25 that the economy grew at a 4.1 percent rate in the last quarter of 2003. Coupled with the 8.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003, the economy has experienced its fastest six months of growth since the period January-June 1984. …

“It’s reasonable to view the employment situation with concern. But to describe the economy as a whole as ‘faltering’ is to take an unconscionable liberty with the truth,” Mr. Kelly said.

“But taking liberties with the truth is what the ‘mainstream’ media (by this I mean the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the news departments of ABC, NBC and CBS, and — to a lesser degree — The Washington Post and the Associated Press) are all about these days. They are functioning less as journalists than as the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee.”

Dean’s ‘Bushgate’

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean yesterday accused the Bush administration of lying about its reasons for invading Iraq and said, “Bushgate … is far more serious than Watergate in many ways.”

The Democrat, interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “Late Edition,” called for an investigation and suggested that President Bush might have committed an impeachable offense.

“This administration has simply not told us the truth,” said Mr. Dean, referring to prewar intelligence about mobile labs and weapons of mass destruction in lraq. “And I can’t understand why this isn’t being investigated. This is Bushgate, which is far more serious than Watergate in many ways because 600 people are dead … and countless Iraqis and over 2,000 Americans wounded, many of them permanently maimed. What is going on in this country is this kind of stuff is buried on page 6A, as it was in our local paper here this morning.”

When Mr. Blitzer pointed out that there is a commission investigating the WMD intelligence before the war, as well as congressional inquiries, Mr. Dean replied: “Yes. I find it interesting, of course, that the inquiries are going to be put off until [after] the election. You know, if Bill Clinton were president today, there would be calls for his impeachment, there would be congressional investigations.

“In fact, what’s really happened is the right wing of the Republican Party, which apparently controls both houses, not just the House, is putting its party’s interest just above the country’s interest. We need a full-scale, open congressional investigation about this.”

Playing to the media

“From the moment the September 11 commission was authorized, the only important question was when it would propitiate the media gods,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“That moment has arrived. We have finally reduced the entire story of September 11, as always, to heroes and villains, winners and losers,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Richard Clarke divined how our system elevates its heroes. He extruded his long, honorable career through layers of major media — Simon & Schuster, CBS and then the Barnum & Bailey big-top of televised hearings. For a week, he became the man of the moment.

“Now in another propitiation, Condoleezza Rice will go before the commission in the role the gods have ordained: Prove in public that neither she nor her colleagues in the Bush presidency are knaves who make policy in cynical disregard of truth or evidence. When this exercise is over, we will know very little important about September 11 that we didn’t know on September 12.”

Moyers’ rant

“There are only a few months to go before Bill Moyers retires from PBS, but he’s not going quietly,” the Media Research Center’s (MRC) Brent Baker writes at

“Last week on his Friday night show, he delivered a another left-wing ‘commentary’ in which he claimed President Bush’s ‘credibility has been shredded’ because of his ‘deception’ over Iraq, warned that ‘there will come a time when the president will have no one to rely on except his most rabid allies in the right-wing media,’ lamented how privates in Afghanistan and Iraq earn less than $16,000 dollars a year ‘while here at home the rich get their tax cuts’ and recommended ‘a wartime Cabinet to serve a wartime nation’ with ‘Al Gore as head of homeland security’ and John McCain as secretary of state.

“Sounds like a quote in the MRC’s April Fools edition of Notable Quotables, but he really said it.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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