Thursday, September 23, 2004


Due to erroneous information from Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, an item in the Inside the Beltway column in yesterday’s editions incorrectly quoted Sen. John Kerry in a 1997 appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire” as arguing for a unilateral, pre-emptive war against Iraq.

In reference to a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding access to Iraqi weapons sites, Mr. Kerry actually said: “I think that’s our great concern [-] where’s the backbone of Russia, where’s the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity [-] but in a sense, they’re now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq.”

Later, referring to French and Russian reservations on the use of force, Mr. Kerry said: “There’s absolutely no statement that they have made or that they will make that will prevent the United States of America and this president or any president from acting in what they believe are the best interests of our country.”

Kerry out attack

During a 1997 debate on CNN’s “Crossfire,” Sen. John Kerry, now the Democratic presidential nominee, made the case for launching a pre-emptive attack against Iraq.

So reveals Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, who appeared with Mr. Kerry on the program.

Mr. King says the U.N. Security Council had just adopted a resolution against Iraq that was watered down at the behest of the French and the Russians. Yet the candidate who now criticizes President Bush for ignoring French and Russian objections to the Iraq war blasted the two countries, claiming that they were compromised by their business dealings with Baghdad.

“We know we can’t count on the French. We know we can’t count on the Russians,” said Mr. Kerry. “We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take pre-emptive action whenever we feel it’s in our national interest.”

While no “Crossfire” transcripts from 1997 are available, Mr. King in recent days produced a tape of the show, sharing it with New York radio host Monica Crowley for broadcast, and this Inside the Beltway column for publication. Stay tuned.

Hill harvest

In passing the 2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, Congress this week handed itself a pay raise — jacking up its annual salary nearly $4,000 above a current income of $158,000.

It marks the sixth straight year that Congress has accepted an automatic pay raise. Hats off to two-term Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah Democrat, who last week made a procedural attempt to prevent the annual pay increase, but his measure was voted down 235 to 170.

Does anybody care that the congressional paycheck is growing while the country is $422 billion in debt?

“Members of Congress must think that money grows on trees,” says Council for Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz, who agrees that “one of the many perks of being a member of Congress is that it is the only job in which you can apparently get away with giving yourself a pay raise during a time of increasing red ink.”


Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told President Bush this week that he is sorry.

“I owe you an apology,” Mr. Giuliani began. “I made a mistake during my [Republican National Convention] speech … I said that with 64 days to go, John Kerry could change his mind five or six times about what to do in Iraq. Well, he’s already changed his mind four or five times and I’m going to be proven wrong again because I think we’re looking more like eight or nine times.”

Outlasting Moses

“In all my years in the Senate, I have never seen the abusive tactics, shameless attacks, and polarizing and poisonous language they’re now using in a desperate effort to cling to their narrow majority in Congress.”

— Sen. Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, who was first elected to the Senate 42 years ago in 1962, referring to the Republicans

Hairy Kerry

So much for Sen. John Kerry’s hair.

Seventy-six percent of respondents to a Grooming Lounge (where political-party heads as well as celebrities such as Bruce Willis and Elliot Gould get coiffed while in Washington) poll say President Bush has better hair than his rival.

And don’t think hair isn’t important in this era of television campaigns, when elections can come down to whoever looks the part.

Bushier-browed candidates, for example, have lost the popular vote in the past four presidential elections. And 92 percent of those surveyed think Mr. Kerry has the most pronounced “eyebrows of mass destruction” of the two candidates.

“In order to prevent history from repeating itself, we believe Kerry needs to have his eyebrows groomed,” says Mike Gilman, co-founder of Grooming Lounge.

Pence pending

A group of more than 90 House conservatives who make up the House Republican Study Committee have named Indiana Rep. Mike Pence their new chairman for the 109th Congress.

“I am deeply humbled to be elected to lead those in Congress I have long admired for their principled and conservative stands,” says Mr. Pence, who points out that his very first task is to get re-elected to a third term.

• Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” Mr. McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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