Wednesday's must-reads

By Geraldine Sealey

Published August 25, 2004 2:02PM (EDT)

President Bush's re-election campaign claims not to be coordinating with a smear campaign against John Kerry. But the New York Times today reports that a top lawyer for Bush-Cheney '04 admits giving legal advice to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the outside 527 group devoted to spreading bogus information about Kerry's war record.

"The lawyer, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, said that the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him last month to ask for his help and that he agreed. Mr. Ginsberg said that he had yet to work out payment details with the group and that he might consider doing the work pro bono."

"Mr. Ginsberg, the chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, agreed to an interview after several telephone calls to him and the campaign's asking that he explain his role. He said that he was helping the group comply with campaign finance rules and that his work was entirely separate from his work for the president. President Bush has called for an end to advertising by all groups like that of the Swift boat veterans, called 527's for the section of the tax code that created them."

This comes on the heels of the Dallas Morning News reporting yesterday that Bob Perry, the single largest donor to the Swift Boat group, "is listed as the co-host of a New York City fund-raiser next week for the Harris County GOP, whose guest list includes President Bush's top political adviser."

The AP dug up another Navy record to back up the many other military documents that contradict the claims of the Swift Boat group. "The Navy task force overseeing John Kerry's swift boat squadron in Vietnam reported that his group of boats came under enemy fire during a March 13, 1969, incident that three decades later is being challenged by the Democratic presidential nominee's critics. The March 18, 1969, weekly report from Task Force 115, which was located by The Associated Press during a search of Navy archives, is the latest document to surface that supports Kerry's description of an event for which he won a Bronze Star and a third Purple Heart."

The Washington Post wins the award for best headline on the front page of a major newspaper today: "Rumsfeld's Status Taken Down a Notch."

"A report by a blue-ribbon panel [Rumsfeld] appointed to review the military establishment's role in creating and handling detainee abuse problems at Abu Ghraib prison said that the Iraq war plan he played a key role in shaping helped create the conditions that led to the scandal."

"In addition, the four-member panel, which was led by one former defense secretary, James R. Schlesinger, and included another, Harold Brown, found that Rumsfeld's slow response when the Iraqi insurgency flared last summer worsened the situation."

"But the report does not appear to threaten Rumsfeld's position as defense secretary, especially because all four panel members emphatically rejected the idea of calling for his resignation yesterday at a Pentagon news conference to release their conclusions."

The Los Angeles Times looks at Dick Cheney's surprising announcement that "freedom means freedom for everyone." Cheney admitted he has a gay daughter and said same-sex marriage should be handled by the states, a position that differs from President Bush's support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

"Religious conservatives, a key part of the Republican coalition, strongly support a federal ban on same-sex marriage. But recent Senate debate on the issue showed that it was a divisive subject among GOP lawmakers. And Cheney's view represents a rare break by him with the party's conservative base."

" ... On Tuesday, the vice president said he could understand why Bush pushed for the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made such unions legal in that state. 'I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change, without allowing the people to be involved,' Cheney said. 'The courts  were making the judgment for the entire country.'"

Dick Cheney may not support a constitutional ban on gay marriage (along with a majority of Americans), but GOP leaders want one in the party's platform, the AP reports.

"A draft of the platform, shown to delegates on the eve of platform hearings Wednesday, set up a noisy debate just days before the Republican National Convention, highlighting divisions over gay rights, abortion rights and President Bush's restrictions on stem cell research."

"If the marriage plank is approved as expected, it would mark the first time the GOP has gone on record in its platform as supporting an amendment against those unions. The last platform settled for a more general statement supporting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman."

A race for county elections supervisor usually doesn't attract campaign appearances by the big guns of national parties. Unless the county is Palm Beach County, Fla. The Miami Herald reports on Howard Dean's stumping for Arthur Anderson, the candidate who's running against Theresa LePore.

'''People believe now their vote may not count,' Dean told about 50 Anderson supporters in Lake Worth. 'That is the single biggest disadvantage that this president has done to America. Far worse than the wars we're fighting based on things that weren't true. Far worse than the half-trillion-dollar debt. Even far worse than the millions of jobs this president has lost is what he's done to undermine democracy.'"

"Dean was invited by U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, who has also lined up Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore's 2000 running mate, to campaign for Anderson this weekend. Wexler was already at odds with LePore, whose shortcomings he has long blamed for Florida coming up 537 votes short in 2000."

" ... Anderson wasn't the only candidate Dean stumped for Monday. He also campaigned for U.S. Senate contender Betty Castor, who along with Anderson made one of the 'Dean Dozen' lists of local candidates the former Vermont governor is urging his one-time supporters to back on Election Day."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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