Who is headlining the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket, John Kerry or Bill Clinton?
An eye-opening list of names compiled by Amy Sullivan in the latest issue of Washington Monthly reveals that Clinton's administration has all but assumed control of the John Kerry-John Edwards campaign for the White House.
In fact, Sullivan says, the actual policy development and message of the campaign is being orchestrated by ex-Clinton aides.
"The Bostonians run the trains, the Clintonites supply the brains," she writes. "The unofficial twin pillars of the policy shop are Gene Sperling, former head of the National Economic Council under Clinton, and Bruce Reed, who served Clinton as domestic policy adviser before heading over to the Democratic Leadership Council."
Then we have former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former deputy secretary Robert Altman deeply involved in crafting Kerry's economic proposals. There is former Clinton State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin handling the campaign's foreign-policy sphere (until this week, he was advised by stocking stuffer and former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger), aided by former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
"Those are just a few of the outside advisers with Clinton administration ties. But inside, too, the Kerry campaign staff is beginning to look like a Clinton White House reunion," Sullivan says.
Consider that Clinton's former chief speechwriter, Terry Edmonds, is now Kerry's chief speechwriter. Minyon Moore, once Clinton's director of political affairs, spearheads Kerry's minority-outreach program. Also in the Kerry-Edwards camp are ex-Clintonites such as the campaign's influential communications director, Stephanie Cutter; policy director Sarah Bianchi; speechwriter Josh Gottheimer; and economic policy director Jason Furman.
More incredibly, running mate Edwards' primary campaign "relied even more heavily than Kerry did on ex-Clintonites, and many of his top aides have now moved to the Kerry campaign," Sullivan continues.
Take Miles Lackey, who served on Clinton's National Security Council before becoming Edwards' chief of staff in the Senate. He now is Kerry's deputy campaign manager for policy and speechwriting. Robert Gordon, a former Clinton hand on the National Economic Council and the Office of National Service, previously ran Edwards' policy shop and is now doing the same for Kerry's. And former Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's deputy White House press secretary, is a Kerry state media director.
Finally, those two guys who you see on the road with Kerry are trip director Setti Warren and senior aide David Morehouse, both Clinton White House veterans.
It's a bitter-to-swallow pill
(And you know that I've had my fill),
But, if that's all I get,
Then I'll have to accept
Introducing my husband, Bill.
- F.R. Duplantier
VOW ON VOWS
We opined last week that it was too early for Senate Democrats - and a half-dozen Republicans - led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts to declare victory, even though a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman failed to get past a procedural vote.
Kennedy called the Senate's action last Wednesday a "repudiation" of an election-year effort by President Bush and Senate Republican leaders to divide the nation for political gain. Still, we pointed out, the controversial issue of homosexual "marriage" didn't die on the Senate floor, but rather promises to breathe emotion in both houses - and along the campaign trails - through November.
Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican, was to hold a press conference Thursday morning to announce the introduction of a bill defining marriage throughout the entire United States as the union of one man and one woman.
"We need a straightforward bill that protects the institution of marriage immediately," the congressman says. "I support the Federal Marriage Amendment, but amending the Constitution is a difficult, lengthy process.
"We need a backup plan. The institution of marriage is too important to our families and our society to let a few activist judges control this issue."
Kennedy warns that any such amendment would "write bigotry back into the Constitution."
BUSH 1, KERRY 0
Louise R. Kilcullen knew the end was near, so the 86-year-old Alexandria woman, who died last Wednesday, made sure she voted by absentee ballot in the 2004 presidential election (we have it on good authority she cast her vote for President George W. Bush).
"She was kidding around . . . in the hospital that she wouldn't be around on November 2, and she wanted to make sure she voted before she died," the Rev. Dennis Kleinmann, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Old Town Alexandria, tells The Beltway Beat.
"I'm not sure about the [voting] guidelines if a person dies before [Election Day], but she did vote," the priest reveals.
We also have it on good authority that Kilcullen - a widow and loving mother of four children, seven grand-children and four great-grandchildren - requested that a "Bush-Cheney 2004" bumper sticker be attached to her coffin during her funeral services.
"It did not happen in church," stresses Kleinmann, forbidding church and state to merge to such a degree in the hallowed sanctuary of Virginia's oldest Catholic church.
"However," the priest confirms, "when the coffin was pulled from the hearse at the cemetery and carried to the burial space, it did have a Bush bumper sticker on it."
In fact, the amused Kleinmann tells us, the bumper sticker was glued to the end of the casket where he stood to recite the burial rites - "staring me in the face," he laughs. "She was buried with the bumper sticker."
Federal Election Commission spokesman Ian Stirton says the case of Kilcullen is indeed "an unusual one," and seemed relieved that the FEC has no say in such matters.
We'll similarly leave it to a higher authority.
FOUR MORE YEARS
You know the 2004 election is looming when the introduction of a new anthology is written by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with contributions from Republican stalwarts George Shultz, William Bennett, Edwin I. Meese III, Mike Huckabee, Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson, Art Laffer, Stephen Moore and Grover Norquist, among others.
The book, "Thank you, President Bush: Reflections on the War on Terror, Defense of the Family and Revival of the Economy," is set for release on Aug. 30, the opening day of the Republican National Convention.
Editors of the book are Rod D. Martin and Aman Verjee, the latter co-founder of American Thunder, a leading NASCAR magazine.
COMMIES FOR KERRY
It's official: The Communist Party USA is backing John Kerry's presidential campaign.
"The main question before us at the moment is: How will the Communist Party USA and [the Young Communist League] do our part in this historic battle to deliver a decisive defeat to Bush and the far-right agenda?" says a party statement.
After describing her party's "Push Bush Out the Door in 2004" efforts, CPUSA political action committee Chairwoman Joelle Fishman writes: "Kerry reflects a liberal agenda, his campaign represents a moderate-progressive coalition. . . . He is the vehicle by which George W. Bush, representing the most extreme reaction, can be defeated."
Among other "progressive" candidates praised by Fishman are former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Democrat, Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama in Illinois, and Democratic Senate hopeful Inez Tenenbaum in South Carolina.