Politics

Page 3: Democratic Convention Klatch

Hillary to Heinz: ‘You Go, Girl!’

The very first thing would-be First Lady Teresa Heinz Kerry did when she arrived in Boston last week for the Democratic National Convention was to make a call for greater civility in American political life. The second thing she did was to suggest that political discourse had taken on some “un-American traits.” The third thing she did was to deny what she had just said, and the fourth was to tell a journalist who had the audacity to ask her what she meant to “shove it.”

All this happened within the span of a few minutes in the life of the lady who would replace Laura Bush if John Kerry were elected President.

On July 25, Heinz Kerry went to the Massachusetts Statehouse to address the delegates from her home state of Pennsylvania.

“My prayers for you, for me, for the country for the world, are that we keep this at a high level, with dignity and with a great idealism and courage that took our forefathers to build this great nation,” she said.

Then she added: “We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics.”

When Heinz Kerry finished her presentation, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Editorial Page Editor Colin McNickle approached her and asked what she meant by the term “un-American.” The exchange was videotaped by WTAE-TV. It went as follows:

Heinz Kerry: “No, I didn’t say that.”

McNickle: “What did you mean?”

Heinz Kerry: “I didn’t say that, I didn’t say that.”

McNickle: “I’m just asking you what you said.”

Heinz Kerry: “But why are you putting those words in my mouth.”

McNickle: “You said something about un-American–”

Heinz-Kerry: “No, I didn’t say that–”

McNickle: “–Activity?”

Heinz-Kerry: “I did not say activities or un-American. Those are your words.”

Heinz Kerry then walked away, conferred with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D.) and raced back to confront McNickle, saying: “Are you from the Tribune-Review? Of course. Understandable. You said something I didn’t say. Now shove it!”

The next day, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended what his wife said. “I think my wife speaks her mind appropriately,” he said. Former First Lady Hillary Clinton was downright enthusiastic about Heinz Kerry’s outburst. Asked what she thought about it by CNN, Hillary said: “I think a lot of Americans are going to say, ‘Good for you. You go, girl!’ That’s certainly how I feel about it.”

Daschle Ducks Out

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) may have been the co-chair of the Democratic National Convention, but that did not stop him from ducking out of Boston more than 24 hours before John Kerry gave his acceptance speech.

Obviously, there was no photo-op of Kerry embracing Daschle on the podium.

Daschle is not lamenting the lost opportunity. He had carefully plotted his early departure. As he explained to the Associated Press, “I thought it would be fun to watch John Kerry from South Dakota with South Dakotans.”

Either that, or he didn’t want to touch Kerry with a ten-foot pole.

Former Rep. John Thune (S.D.), the Republican Senate candidate who has a very good chance of defeating Daschle this November, offered a better explanation for Daschle’s premature exit than Daschle did. “It shows how far away he wants to run from that ticket,” Thune told the Sioux Falls Argus Courier. “He does not want to be associated with John Edwards or John Kerry. Again, it comes down to the theme that Tom Daschle is a guy who says one thing in D.C. and another in South Dakota.”

When Daschle gave his own convention speech Tuesday night he looked worried, and gave what amounted to a nationally televised South Dakota stump speech before getting around to mentioning John Kerry by name. In fact, Daschle sometimes sounded more like a Middle American cultural conservative than the Senate Democratic leader who has spent the past four years using filibusters to block many of President Bush’s conservative judicial nominees–and who just this month moved to block a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“Over the next few weeks, I will be driving from town to town, talking to South Dakotans,” said Daschle. “. . . Doing right by America means that we don’t just talk about our values; we live them. And we honor the fundamental difference between right and wrong.”

Roll Over, John Adams

Where are John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer when you need them?

To be consistent, they should have issued a gag order on Teddy Kennedy last week.

Back in 2000, these justices ruled that public high school kids in Texas could not voluntarily say a prayer before a Friday night football game. This year, all but O’Connor punted on the question of whether public school kids could say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. But last week in the FleetCenter–at what was, after all, a federally-funded event–Teddy Kennedy recited a prayer.

And it wasn’t just any prayer. It was a prayer written by John Adams, arguably the most conservative President ever to serve in the White House. (George Washington, of course, never occupied that residence.)

Kennedy has exerted himself mightily on the Senate Judiciary Committee over the past four years trying to block several of President Bush’s conservative appellate court nominees. And he particularly opposed the appellate nominations of former Alabama Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor and Federal District Judge Charles Pickering, who were well known for their traditionalist religious views.

Yet, before the Democratic delegates on Tuesday, Kennedy recited Adams’s prayer–asking God that “none but honest and wise men” serve in the presidency–which is chiseled into marble on the mantel of the White House dining room.

How long would it take, we wonder, for the Supreme Court to dispatch a crew to the White House with jackhammers to remove Adams’s prayer from the mantel if the sort of justices Kennedy and John Kerry would like to see on the court are ever confirmed?

Poor John Adams. He must be rolling over in his grave. Teddy Kennedy wasn’t the only liberal Democrat to invoke his name in the FleetCenter last week. Bill Clinton did it Monday night, too.

Not surprisingly, neither Clinton nor Kennedy cited the famous observation from Adams that Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was fond of citing on the campaign trail four years ago: “Our Constitution was designed only for the government of a moral and religious people,” said Adams. “It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”


Sign Up