Friday's must-reads

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 28, 2004 3:09PM (EDT)

John Kerry, unplugged
Salon's Tim Grieve spent some time with John Kerry in his SUV, driving through Green Bay, Wis. Kerry, buoyed of late by healthy crowds, lucrative fundraisers and jacked battleground state poll ratings, explains in an interview why he'd do better than Bush in Iraq, and discusses the "craven" politics of his opponents and how some Republicans confide they're voting for him and not Bush. The administration's credibility is so shot, Kerry says, he can't even believe John Ashcroft when he warns al-Qaida is ready to attack.

Here's an excerpt of the interview:

"Kerry: I think it's going to take a new president to clear the air, to turn over a new chapter for America, to renew our relationships with the level of trust that's necessary. I don't think this administration has any credibility left.

Q: What's the administration's credibility with you now? Attorney General John Ashcroft issued warnings this week of possible terrorist attacks over the summer. Did something in the back of your mind say, "Gee, I wonder if this is related to the campaign," or did you assume immediately that the warnings were legitimate?

Kerry: I just have no way to measure it. Instead of feeling absolutely confident, I have no way of measuring it.

Q: And you should feel absolutely confident.

Kerry: I should feel absolutely confident.

Ashcroft surprised Homeland Security
Newsday says the Homeland Security department was shocked earlier this week when John Ashcroft announced al-Qaida was ready to attack the United States. They thought he was just going to discuss what everyone already knew -- that seven suspects, already wanted for arrest or questioning, were at large.

"The news conference, which excluded Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, raised concerns in Washington that his department was not coordinating the domestic fight against terrorism, which was confusing the message for the public and for local authorities. Earlier on Wednesday, Ridge spoke on morning television shows and appeared to downplay the threat that Ashcroft would later trumpet, officials said. He told ABC's Good Morning America that the threats are 'not the most disturbing that I have personally seen during the past couple of years.'"

Kerry targets GOP turf
The AP says John Kerry's $17 million June advertising blitz will venture into Republican territory, targeting Virginia as he has Colorado and Louisiana.

"The presumptive Democratic nominee will be the only presidential candidate on the air in Virginia, making a foray into a state that President Bush solidly won in 2000, and in Louisiana, where Bush no longer is running ads. Kerry's new commercials begin Wednesday in media markets in 20 states and nationally on cable networks. His 60-second biographical ads - in an unprecedented $25 million buy - ended Thursday, and his strategists have said the next wave would flesh out his position on issues."

"The campaign has made good on its promise to try to expand the number of states where the race is contested from the 17 states considered battlegrounds."

Dems rip Bush plan for program cuts
The Palm Beach Post says "congressional Democrats criticized the Bush administration Thursday for reportedly considering a variety of domestic spending cuts in popular programs in 2006. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said budget cuts outlined in a May 19 White House memo would mean 'more hardship for average Americans.''

"'The administration's policy choices have already contributed to the biggest squeeze on the middle class in history, and this memo promises more of the same,' Daschle said. 'The administration should change course and start focusing on America's priorities.' Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., speaking on behalf of Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, said the memo represented 'the end of the hide-the-ball budget strategy of this administration.'"

"'The ball is now out for everyone to see.... The only thing that's left in place is the part of the ball that is labeled, 'Tax cuts for my rich friends,' Graham said."

Krugman: Press now revealing Bush's true character
The New York Times' Paul Krugman says many journalists "seem to be having regrets about the broader context in which Iraq coverage was embedded: a climate in which the press wasn't willing to report negative information about George Bush."

"People who get their news by skimming the front page, or by watching TV, must be feeling confused by the sudden change in Mr. Bush's character. For more than two years after 9/11, he was a straight shooter, all moral clarity and righteousness. But now those people hear about a president who won't tell a straight story about why he took us to war in Iraq or how that war is going, who can't admit to and learn from mistakes, and who won't hold himself or anyone else accountable. What happened?"

"The answer, of course, is that the straight shooter never existed. He was a fictitious character that the press, for various reasons, presented as reality."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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