The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, May 10, 2004  

May 10, 2004

Kerry Campaign Coverage
With all the coverage of the Abu Graib scandal it would be hard to fault anyone for forgetting there’s a presidential campaign under way. The latest theme in the media is troubling: Sen. John F. Kerry is performing poorly on the stump. Just one of many I’ve seen lately: “Kerry on the Stump: Where’s the Fire?” by John M. Baer, Philadelphia Daily News. Dan Payne, writing for, brings back memories of the 1998 campaign in “Dukakis-Bush Déjà Vu.”

Big Surprise: I
New York Times columnist William Safire thinks Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld should keep his job.

Big Surprise: II
Neoconservative critic Midge Decter agrees with Safire (“If Rumsfeld Is Driven Out, We All Lose,” Los Angeles Times, May 7). Of course, if had I had written a poor-selling, adoring, hagiographic tome about the controversial Pentagon chief, I’d be leaping to his defense as well. I’d like to think, however, I could do so with greater lucidity, reason, and conviction than Decter:

[T]hese days an outcry is being staged -- and “staged” is the word -- over casualties amounting to a few hundred. Now comes the latest scandal, over the behavior of a few prison guards in Iraq. This new scandal is no more than an election-season opportunity seized by certain serious opponents of the war, along with many more unserious opponents of the Bush administration. [Emphasis added.]

[Rumsfeld] is in the administration doghouse for failing to show the president the pictures of what was done to the prisoners, not to mention for having caused an irreparably bad odor among senators by failing to share with them the contents of interrogations that had not been completed yet. Out of such kindergarten stuff is fabricated the latest, and most joyful, assault on one of the most capable public servants in living memory. [Emphasis added.]

Aside from the part this ersatz scandal no doubt will be made to play in the Democratic presidential campaign, this tempest in a teapot about the brutal behavior of a small group of young thugs in wartime says something disturbing about us as a people. [Emphasis added.]

Bring a Gun to School
Wow, they really like guns in Utah: “In Utah, Birkenstocks, Backpacks, and Guns?” by Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor): “Utah has never been shy about its guns. Here, a small town called Virgin once passed a law requiring that all households have a firearm. Here, an American with a concealed-weapons permit from any state can carry a handgun into a day-care center or an elementary school, and residents once protested a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney because they weren’t allowed to bring their weapons. Not surprisingly, Utah again took a strong Second Amendment stand this spring, overthrowing a 30-year University of Utah policy that banned concealed weapons on campus. But in a twist, ‘the U’ is fighting back.”

Real World Fighting
There’s already been a fight at the “Real World” house in Philadelphia, but it wasn’t the kids, it was a trio of cops. See “Cops brawl at ‘Real World’ House,” Catherine Lucey, Philadelphia Daily News.

Slice of Life: New York Streets
Irving Street, Sedgwick Street, Red Hook Lane . . . The streets are gone, but the signs remain.

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