who is not enjoying American politics at this
point is missing an important gene and a sense
of humor. Whee, we're off! Like a dirty shirt,
like a herd of turtles, it's the 2004 presidential
friends, the media have not begun to overuse the
horse-race metaphor. The candidates are rounding
the first turn, into the backstretch, a leader
breaks from the pack. He stumbles, he falls!
the long-faced gray from Massachusetts moves up,
the showy Palomino from North Carolina hangs in,
and the General drops out. It's muddy out there.
Splat! Splat! Splat!
favorite campaign document of recent days is from
a conservative e-mail newsletter, Talon. (You
can't make this stuff up.) In the Feb. 13 update,
Item One is a nasty piece of gossip about a Democratic
contender, whereas Item Three (I swear) is: "Gutter
Politics to Get Uglier: Reacting in part to the
relentless questioning of the President's service
record, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie said Wednesday
that despite being so early in the campaign season,
the Democrats have made clear they intend to run
the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics."
think we need a rule calling for at least two
paragraphs between spreading nasty gossip and
then decrying the spreading of nasty gossip. On
television and radio, 24 hours should be required.
Standards must be maintained here, team.
the category of most ludicrous attack, we have
an outcry (well, sort of an outcry) over the horrible
news that John Kerry takes money from special-interest
lobbyists. Lawsy, I swan -- I had to sit down
and fan myself when I heard it. Corporate special-interest
money in politics! What next?
fact, Kerry has compiled an enviable record by
Democratic standards in this field. He's No. 1
in special-interest money, reflecting nothing
other than Washington's early conventional wisdom
on the subject.
for politics as usual, Kerry has surged to the
fore and is now undergoing the pluperfectly idiotic
political experience of being called the candidate
of special interests by Republicans! Oh, this
is so rich, how can you not rejoice?
Bush has raised many times more money from corporate
special interests than John Kerry -- seven times
what Kerry has raised from the pharmaceutical
industry and 28 times what Kerry's raised from
telephone utilities, for example. Bush has raised
four times as much directly from lobbyists.
that didn't stop the Bush campaign from sending
out an e-mail video to 6 million supporters accusing
Kerry of being the candidate of the special interests!
for sheer, vicious nastiness, no one can compete
with Ann Coulter, whose latest error-riddled effusion
is an attack on former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland,
who has been critical of the Bush administration.
in an effort to make George W.'s incomplete tour
in the National Guard look better, Coulter wrote
a column distributed by the Heritage Foundation
saying that Cleland, a triple amputee, had shown
"no bravery" in Vietnam, "didn't give his limbs
for his country" and is not a war hero. My favorite
sentence is: "Luckily for Cleland Š he happened
[to lose his limbs] while in Vietnam," her point
being that if he had been injured at Fort Dix,
he wouldn't be a hero.
also wouldn't have been under enemy fire at Fort
Dix. She says he lost his legs in "a routine noncombat
mission where he was about to drink beer with
friends." Actually, Cleland lost his limbs when
a grenade detonated after he and another soldier
jumped off a helicopter in a combat zone.
for not being a war hero, Cleland earned the Silver
Star in a separate incident that occurred just
four days before he was injured. The citation
reads, "When the battalion command post came under
a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt.
Cleland disregarded his own safety, exposed himself
to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position
to administer first aid to his wounded comrades.
He then assisted them in moving the injured personnel
to covered positions. ŠHis gallant action is in
keeping with the highest traditions of military
service and reflects great credit upon himself,
his unit and the United States Army."
lucky for Cleland.
Ivins writes for Creators Syndicate. 5777 W. Century
Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Posted: February 23, 2004