John McCaslin

Not often does a student newspaper score an exclusive interview with a member of the first family, but a Hagerstown, Md., high school journalist got President Bush's sister on the record.

Dorothy Bush Koch didn't give any bombshell disclosures to the Highland View Academy Post, loyally defending her big brother's record.

"I'm proud of this president because he's liberated over 50 million people, put a madman in jail, toppled the Taliban and has continued to fight terrorism each and every day," she said.

So how does an 18-year-old writer land a one-on-one with a source so close to the White House?

It probably didn't hurt that Highland View Academy senior Patrick Koch usually refers to the president's sister as "Aunt Doro."

WRONG TIME

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry can't shake the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth, who, once again, the Massachusetts senator would agree, are in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

Amidst a new television ad campaign fiercely opposing Kerry's bid for the White House, the Swift Boat Veterans, who dispute Kerry's war record in Vietnam, will gather in Washington this weekend for several pre-election events.

Meanwhile, the group's publicist, Keith Appell, wonders how Kerry - should he get elected commander in chief - could lead the United States in a war that he so openly protests.

"How can he gain confidence from the troops and from allies?" he asks.

As President Bush reminded the nation more than once in last week's first presidential debate, Kerry, during a campaign appearance on Sept. 6, called the invasion of Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

EMOTIONS RUN HIGH

How does Sen. Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, compare the polarized atmosphere in the nation today to past presidential elections?

"Never in my years in the Senate have I seen my fellow (Democratic) citizens rise to the challenge of defeating the Republicans with such passion and force than in this election," he says.

ANYBODY'S BET

Veteran political observer Charlie Cook told WMAL "Morning News" co-hosts Andy Parks and Fred Grandy on Wednesday that this is the first presidential campaign he's ever covered in which "you could hold a gun to my head" and he still couldn't predict who might get elected president in November.

And, yes, for curious readers outside the Beltway, this is the same Grandy who was a Republican congressman from Iowa and played "Gopher" on the television show "The Love Boat."

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John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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