Politics & Policy

A Mayoral Letter, Ted K. Everywhere, “a Great Sense of The Land,” &C.

How much would you pay to hear President Bush–answering some point that Kerry has made–say, “Nice tan, by the way”?

‐Richard Holbrooke–Kerry’s chief foreign-policy adviser–has assured Gerhard Schroeder that the first visitors to the White House, under a President Kerry, would be . . . who else? The chancellor of Germany and the president of France, Schroeder and Chirac. In my view, this would not be for any geostrategic reason, or any reason of national interest: That’s just “who John Kerry is,” to use modern jargon. Kerry feels more comfortable with the Schroeders and the Chiracs–with the Olaf Palmes–than with the Havels, the Valladareses, the Chalabis, etc.

(Of course, the Bush White House got uncomfortable with Chalabi, too–to its disadvantage, I believe.)

‐In Monday’s Impromptus, I quoted a remarkable line from the New York Times. Reporter Jodi Wilgoren wrote, “Mr. Kerry’s nemesis, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is spending $1.3 million in five swing states with a spot accusing him of meeting with the enemy in Paris–a reference to his trip to the Paris peace talks, where he met with both sides.”

I made fun of this business of both sides: the Communist North and America’s ally in the South. What a wretched equivalence!

But a million e-mailers brought me up short: They pointed out that, in this case, “both sides” meant the Communist North–and the Viet Cong. In other words, totalitarian brutes all around.

Making Kerry’s performance–and the Times’s reference to it–many, many times worse.

What could I have been thinking?

‐I think the Republican ad that shows John Kerry windsurfing to Strauss’s “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” is inspired. It combines mirth and truth, like many of the best political ads.

And it sent Democrats into hysterics. I thought of a moment following 1988’s vice-presidential debate. Lloyd Bentsen had landed that low blow against Quayle, concerning John Kennedy: and a gleeful Susan Estrich, Dukakis’s campaign manager, said (something very much like), “When the Republicans are squealing like that, you know you’ve scored.”

Well, I think Republicans can know they’ve scored with the windsurfing/Strauss ad. And better: It is not a low blow. It is a fairly administered, effective blow.

‐Speaking of blows, particularly of the low kind: It just may be that Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D., S.C.) is the meanest man in politics. I have a sharp memory of a 1984 Democratic-primary debate–one moderated by Barbara Walters. Hollings was a candidate, and so was Reuben Askew, the former governor of Florida. Hollings thought Askew had misquoted him (or something), and Hollings barked, “You got a tic in your ear, too?” (Askew suffered from an eye twitch.)

Anyway, Hollings keeps calling Bush a “draft dodger.” In recent days, he has said, “Look at the record. We’re defending a Silver Star recipient against a damned draft dodger.” Earlier in the month, he had said, “The Silver Star is being kicked around by a draft dodger.”

A) Bush is not a draft dodger. And b) the Democrats nominated a genuine draft dodger for president twice, in the 1990s. Shouldn’t Democratic senators keep their mouths shut on this? I mean, facts aside?

‐In that Impromptus of two days ago, I mentioned that Greg Craig–the lawyer who strove to ship Elián back to Cuba–was prepping his good friend John Kerry for debate. I suggested that the GOP campaign make hay of this, particularly in South Florida (site of the first debate, as it happens).

Well, I was reminded that the Bush administration has availed itself of the services of Greg Craig. Yes, Colin Powell’s State Department hired him to defend it against the discharged whistleblower Linda Shenwick.

So maybe the Bush-Cheney campaign isn’t well positioned to make hay of Craig. Pity.

‐An Impromptus-ite e-mailed me a story–here–on creeping–perhaps I should say continued–apartheid in Detroit. The city council has adopted a plan to aid blacks, and blacks only, and to stick it to immigrants, who are seen as injurious to blacks. The council aims to create an “Africa Town,” and . . .

I’m sorry, you can read the story for yourself, if you wish. It is all too disgusting. This is not what John Edwards means by our Two Americas problem–but I wish it were.

‐I wish to share with you a letter written by Ed Koch, on September 21, to the New York Times. I don’t know whether the Times has published it–I’m not keeping up with the Times much these days.

To the editor:

In today’s article reporting the decapitation by terrorists in Iraq of American civilian Eugene Armstrong, the Times reporter wrote, “In the video of the beheading, an insurgent wearing a ski mask and surrounded by four men with assault rifles says the group is killing Mr. Armstrong because the American occupiers and the interim Iraqi government failed to meet the deadline. Much of the man’s long speech is addressed to President Bush, who is called a dog at one point.”

Please note that the news article omitted an important part of the story, which was the exact phrase uttered by the executioner at the time he cut Armstrong’s throat and severed his head from his body. That phrase was, “Oh, you Christian dog, Bush, stop your arrogance.”

The reference to President Bush by the terrorist strengthens the belief of many that we are involved in a war of civilizations. Fanatic Islamists believe that Christians and Jews who do not recognize the supremacy of Islam should die. That awful message is part of the story, and the Times erred in not carrying that quote, which many other papers did.

Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, has said in describing Muslim terrorists, “They want to kill us.” Why? Because those making up Western civilization and its ideas–which jihad is bent on destroying–are overwhelmingly Christians and Jews. I believe it is President Bush’s faith that gives him the strength to stay with and implement the Bush Doctrine, which is, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

Your reporter refers to the spokesman for the murderers as an “insurgent.” What would it take for the Times to call someone who has just participated in the beheading of an innocent civilian a terrorist? I am sure the public would like to know.

Nice goin’, Mayor.

‐Ted Kennedy has thrown a fit–among others–that the CIA may be trying to influence the upcoming elections in Iraq. I, in my maturity, will not throw a fit. I long ago lost my purity–if that’s the word–on this. We meddled in the Italian elections of 1948–elections that mattered enormously in the Cold War. And we meddled in the Salvadoran elections, shafting the far Right in favor of the democratic center.

Did Kennedy care about that?

Incidentally, I’m surprised–and sort of admiring–that Kennedy is so visible for Kerry this fall. I thought he’d stump for Kerry in the primaries, and once that was out of the way–in the general election–shut up.

This is, in a way, honest. And, again, I kind of admire it.

‐In Wisconsin, Candidate Kerry said, “I have a great sense of the land. I really do. I’m tired of small family farmers getting squeezed.”

I have a great sense of the land. I really do.

A question, which I mean almost seriously, not just rhetorically: Why isn’t this man a laughingstock? I mean, even among committed Democrats? Why?

‐Soon to be unveiled is a documentary about Kerry’s Vietnam service. It is called Going Upriver. Says the director, George Butler, “As a filmmaker, I always look for good stories. And this is a rather remarkable story. And I went back into John’s life, and I’ve told a story of the kind of experience he had in Vietnam . . .”

Note the use of that first name. Think this documentary’ll be kinda, sorta favorable?

‐Did you hear what James Rappaport had to say about running against Kerry (in a Massachusetts Senate race)? “He didn’t attack me for my positions . . . He attacked me primarily personally. . . . At one point, he called me a chicken hawk because I was strong on defense but hadn’t served in Vietnam. He forgot that I was 16 when the war ended.”

Me, I don’t think Kerry forgot–I think he didn’t give a damn.

A dirty politician, Kerry. Really–even for the breed overall.

‐Many, many readers have asked me to comment on Jimmy Carter’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post, about how Florida is unable to hold a fair election, thanks to Republican wickedness. I’m afraid I can’t–can’t comment, that is. I am about Cartered out, having written about him, and despaired over him, for so long. Almost every word he speaks now, and everything he does, is an offense. He seems to regard America as one great sin. He seems to feel this way about the democratic West generally. You may regard this as a perverse thing to say about a former American president–but study him, as I have.

As far as elections are concerned, he certified sham ones in the Palestinian Authority and . . .

But I’m not going to go on. Please forgive me for shirking this duty. (I had a piece in NR on Carter’s Democratic-convention speech.) I will close this item by recommending Steven F. Hayward’s new book, The Real Jimmy Carter.

‐Speaking of Carter: Michael Moore is speaking at the University of Michigan. (President Carter asked Moore to sit with him in his box at the convention. Carter said that there was no one he’d rather sit with.) According to my U of M sources, Moore was invited by the Michigan Student Assembly. Do they invite conservative speakers? Are you smoking some of that hash so prevalent in Ann Arbor?

Anyway, it’s strange that Michigan students would turn out to hear Moore. They will have heard it all day long, in their classrooms. Of course, maybe Moore can put it more entertainingly.

‐Before publishing some letters, let me say something nice–kind of sweet. On a recent flight–Continental–there was a stewardess (am I allowed to say that?) wearing a Kerry button. I thought that was sort of jarring. Political partisanship on the blouses of airline stewardesses? Anyway, she was super-nice, as was her friend and flight partner (if that’s the right term), also a Kerry supporter, but not a button-wearer–at least not on this occasion. Someone mentioned that I was a big Bush guy, and one of the ladies asked for my autograph.

Listen, if all Kerry supporters were that sweet . . . Uh, no: My vote is pretty much cinched.

‐”Jay, you talked about naming a square in Krakow for Ronald Reagan. Well, I wanted to let you know the names of some of the main thoroughfares in the city where I lived last year, Maputo, Mozambique, hometown of Teresa Heinz Kerry: Mao Tse Tung Avenue, Kim Il Sung Avenue (I lived between those two), Karl Marx Avenue, Friedrich Engels Avenue (the American ambassador’s residence is on this street–overlooks the Indian Ocean), Ho Chi Minh Avenue, and Vladimir Lenin Avenue. For some reason, there’s no Pol Pot Avenue.

“And then there are the streets named after the lesser known, homegrown, bloodthirsty post-colonial African despots and ’socialists’: Sekou Toure Avenue, Robert Mugabe Avenue, and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue (which, when Teresa lived there, was the Avenue of Our Lady of Fatima–what progress!).

“When Maputo gets a Ronald Reagan Avenue, I’ll be impressed.”

Me too.

‐”Jay, I serve on the board of our co-op [in Manhattan], and at a recent meeting a fellow member brought up the subject of flag display. Since 9/11, we have flown a flag in front of our apartment building every day. He stated that ‘recently, a tenant came up to me and said that flying the flag means we support George Bush for president.’ I objected, saying that the flag is not Republican but American. After a very brief discussion, we voted to either keep the flag up all the time or fly it only on holidays. You already know the answer because I wouldn’t be writing you if the flag were flying every day. Flag flyers lost 5-3. It was a sad day for me, and this story has outraged more than a few of my friends. Sad day for the Democrats on my board as well.”

‐Finally, “Jay, I have to tell you: I’m more pleased that McDonalds is giving out GI Joes to kids than I am disgruntled that Joe is being manufactured in Communist China. It’s kind of a brave thing to do nowadays–bestow Joe.”

Great point!

Later, kids.

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