John McCaslin

We have to laugh at Matt Labash's in-depth (11 pages) Weekly Standard cover story, "Roger Stone, Political Animal," who while a mere shell of the political animal he once was still gets blamed today "for things I have nothing to do with."

Once was the time Mr. Stone implanted his claws into every presidential campaign starting with Richard M. Nixon promising "to produce more than I promise." And, as Mr. Labash writes, he has "the battle scars to prove it."

More recently, he was blamed for leaking George W. Bush's forged Air National Guard records, and whereas most right-wing political operatives would delight in taking credit for the demise of Dan Rather, Mr. Stone labels such charges preposterous.

He made his bones during the Reagan era, hanging his political lobbyist shingle alongside old friends Charles Black, Paul Manafort and later Lee Atwater. But in 1996, when working as an unpaid adviser to Bob Dole, his career in mainstream politics ground to a lurid halt when photographs showed Mr. Stone and his second wife, Nydia, "striking come-hither poses in swinger's ads, putting out the call for bedroom playmates with exacting specifications: 'no smokers or fats please,' " Mr. Labash recalls.

"When I bring this up to Stone, he looks pained," says the Standard's senior writer, who spent a week interviewing Mr. Stone in New York and at his home in Miami, where the once-confident consultant can't quite relax these days.

"Though he appears to knock down each drink I order him, it turns out he has had only one," Mr. Labash reveals. "He greased the waiter in advance, telling him to only bring olives and water in his martini glass after the first one. He didn't want me to have the edge, in case I was there to whack him."

Cheering Hillary

As expected, L. Brent Bozell III pulls no punches in his forthcoming book, "Whitewash: What the Media Won't Tell You About Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will."

A card-carrying member of the latter category, the founder and president of the Media Research Center describes how a "liberal news media" helped build the career of the Arkansas first lady turned senator from New York, and now are trying to propel her into the White House.

"The national media have flagrantly abandoned their duty as a supposedly independent, dispassionate press when it comes to coverage of Hillary Clinton," Mr. Bozell argues in an uncorrected proof of the book, due for release next month.

"They have shamelessly served as cheerleaders for Mrs. Clinton from the moment she emerged on the national scene in 1992 ... consistently hail[ing] her as a trailblazing pioneer, a feminist role model, a brilliant intellect, a politician of striking compassion, and inspiring leader, and more."

Strike or spare?

We had heard yesterday that Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat and 2008 presidential candidate, wants Congress to "take back its exclusive authority to 'declare war' from the Bush administration."

The congressman is concerned by tough language of late toward Iran exuded by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which he says collectively hints of a U.S. military attack if new sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation fail.

Fortunately, some things never change. While visiting Mr. Kucinich's official congressional Web site to get his exact statement, we found prominently displayed above all other issues: "Polka, Bowling and Kielbasa."

"Learn why Cleveland is the capital of Polka, Bowling and Kielbasa," it reads, with the Iran issue posted further below.

Dropped the ball

It's not just Republicans who are critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Sacramento Bee reporter John Hill writes that Mrs. Pelosi's "own party is turning on her, apparently because of a perception among California Democrats that she has not done enough to shake up the status quo in Washington, D.C."

Mark DiCamillo, polling director of a new Field Poll, is quoted as explaining that Mrs. Pelosi and Congress as a whole have fallen short of voter expectations since taking over both chambers.

"For Pelosi, it was the first time the poll showed more people disapproving than approving of her performance — 40 percent to 35 percent, with 25 percent having no opinion," he says.

Weaker minds

Percentage of Americans who have not read a book in the past year: 27

— Harper's Index, November 2007


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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