Jewish World Review June 25, 2004/ 6 Tamuz, 5764


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B&W road movie: Kerry and Sharpton are making beautiful music together | Born-again NASCAR aficionado (hello swing-voter Hispanics!) John Kerry inflicts enough damage on his presidential campaign all by his lonesome without Barry Bonds, who may one day break Hank Aaron's home run record, stirring up the pot. Last Friday, Bonds told Boston Globe sportswriter Gordon Edes, in San Francisco to cover the Sox-Giants series, that he'd never but never consider finishing his career in New England.

"Boston is way too racist for me," Bonds said. Informed that the city, site of Kerry's coronation next month and nationally known for the violence that ensued over forced bussing 30 years ago, had changed, the surly National Leaguer wasn't buying. "It ain't changing. It ain't changing nowhere." Told that a tunnel was built to honor Ted Williams in Boston, the reporter asked Bonds what monument might be constructed to celebrate his career one day. "Nothing, man. I'm black. They don't build stuff for blacks." Pressed more about racism in sports, and America, Bonds said, "I live in the real world, brother. That's all. I do the best I can in the real world. I ain't mad at it, but it's still the real world."

Other non-white superstars also live in the real world but aren't obsessed with slavery and making sure brothers know that Babe Ruth was a fat drunk who couldn't carry Bonds' jockstrap. When floods ravaged the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz (who play in racist Boston) donated money to their home country and organized fans to also chip in. Likewise, players like Alex Rodriguez, probably the most articulate man to don pinstripes in years, doesn't take his enormous salary for granted, freely giving money to any number of charities.

Bonds borders on the paranoid, since spectators both black and white fill stadiums to watch him hit. Earlier in June, I was at a Giants-Orioles game at Camden Yards and when he came to bat, the O's pitcher was booed upon giving Bonds an intentional walk. And when the BALCO poptart did hit a monster home run the man got a standing ovation. But maybe one of Kerry's new best friends, rat-oil salesman Al Sharpton, could have a word with Bonds before he bashes Boston again.

The Disgrace of New York City campaigned with Kerry in Detroit on June 17, claiming his party's leader (not counting Bill Clinton) has been tarred and feathered with a bum rap by critics who don't see anything but white faces in the Senator's inner circle. Sharpton, who probably received a deluxe suite at an area hotel in return for his blessing, said "I've seen as much diversity or more around Kerry than I did around Clinton in '92. And they say he was the first black president. So, I mean, what are we talking about?"

Yes indeed, what are we talking about, black man? Maybe that Kerry's so desperate to squelch this mini-storm over racial inclusion that he's stooping to let Sharpton warm up rallies in "diverse" parts of the country. Sharpton's a fraud, and it suits me if Kerry wants to pander to black voters by making absurd statements like the following:

"Al Sharpton is traveling with me today because he's a friend [they're polo partners, didn't you know?], because he proved during the course of this presidential race that he has a great understanding of what's happening in the country and a great ability to communicate it to Americans."

Kerry didn't say whether in subsequent appearances by Sharpton—should Bob Shrum not veto the rev—if Tawana Brawley will be included in the entourage.

Kerry's dumb to make statements on the record about Sharpton's "great ability" when it's clear that he's best for gaming the system to stay out of jail and demagogue citizens about the Man. Surely, Rep. Harold Ford, an extraordinary politician from Tennessee would be a far smarter choice of black campaign companion for Kerry. Then again, even though the Mondale/Dukakis-like Democrat mouths his party's platitudes about race, gender and taxes, you get the feeling, if his embrace of Sharpton is any indication, that Kerry is of the "some of my best friends are colored, I mean black" camp.

Sharpton just leads to trouble. Now, for what it's worth, Jesse Jackson's pissed and has secured Kerry's cameo at the June 29 Rainbow Coalition/PUSH conference. According to a June 21 American Spectator online posting, a Kerry aide said, "Doing Jackson a favor on behalf of our labor friends is easy enough to do. Maybe it gives us some breathing room in other decisions, like veep."

Then again, as the Boston Globe reports (June 18), Kerry doesn't have a lot of time for his aides; much less secret service personnel who get rewarded for protecting the candidate by being treated like dirt. On the subject of Kerry's meeting with Dick Gephardt (Big Labor's pick for veep) last week, the Globe's Glen Johnson wrote: "Kerry chuckled when asked if he was angry over leaks that threaten his intention to keep the [running mate] process secret. Aides have said they expect an announcement the second or third week of July."

Consistent with the well-bred candidate's habit of disparaging the hired help, Kerry said, "I read with amusement about aides who don't know what they're talking about with respect to my schedule, because I haven't made a decision about my schedule."

Who knows if Kerry's stepson, Chris Heinz, is in hot water with his mother's husband for denigrating (with good reason) Sen. John Edwards as a possible vice-presidential choice. Heinz, who's looking at political career in his native Pennsylvania, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, "I was very pro-Edwards in the spring. But now I think we may need someone with stronger credentials on foreign policy."

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And did the Massachusetts junior senator's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have to sleep on the couch after making some silly remarks at a DC fundraiser last Friday? Reported by the Boston Herald's Noelle Straub, THK regaled her most female audience of 2500, picking up $1.3 million for the campaign, with stories about nice the second JFK is.

"He actually does feel at ease in the world," she said. "He likes people, in spite of whatever people [perhaps voters?] might think. He'd make the best nursery school teacher in the world, bar none."

Done deal. Kerry can become a teacher, or even headmaster, at some prestigious pre-school and Bush will continue to wage war against terrorists who want to kill Americans, children included.

Teresa also said that Kerry would get the U.S. back in good with the United Nations [swell] and "will never, ever, ever send any children, or men—as he was with young men in Vietnam—into harm's way without being the first one to go out on the boat." So, let me get this straight: In the event Kerry becomes commander-in-chief, he's going to re-enlist in the Navy and lead the battle against the bad guys in the Middle East, or maybe Korea or South Carolina, and leave the trifling duties in Washington to whomever he chooses for vice president? Bully for him and his 21st-century rough riders!

His wife added, at the same appearance, "We're not going to fight terrorism with missiles, we're going to fight terrorism with ideas. And I think that John knows that, deep down." All the "we're" lingo sounds unfortunately familiar to the Clintons' claim that voters in '92 were getting "two for the price of one," an idea that went down the toilet once Hillary bombed with her health care plan, forcing her to bake cookies until Bill got involved with that intern.

Back on the subject of black voters, National Public Radio's Juan Williams, who's certainly liberal but doesn't take orders from Tim Robbins or Leonardo DiCaprio, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times on June 16 claiming that Bush has an opportunity to attract more minority voters than in 2000. (He could hardly do worse.) He writes: "Compared with previous Democratic campaigns, Mr. Kerry's has done a poor job of reaching out to black voters. As Donna Brazile [every conservative's favorite outspoken Democrat] said recently, 'Don't expect me to go out and say John Kerry is a great man and a visionary if you're not running ads on African-American or Hispanic cable networks. Fair is fair. So send my dad a postcard, send my sisters a bumpersticker.'"

It's no secret that Democrats, prevailing assumptions notwithstanding, take the black vote for granted. But Williams' most valid point in the essay notes that younger blacks are more open to subjects like school vouchers. Citing a Newsweek poll, Williams says, "Despite strong opposition from civil rights leaders (and Democrats), 66 percent of blacks and 67 percent of Hispanics favor vouchers. That is higher than the 54 percent of whites who say they want to see vouchers used to give students access to better schools."

It'd be a colossal mistake for Bush not to make vouchers (and Social Security reform) a key part of his domestic platform in this year's election. Especially since Kerry isn't likely to take the word of Juan Williams (despite his recent Times pedigree) seriously, since in addition to his taxpayer-funded NPR duties, the former Washington Post journalist on occasion moonlights as an analyst for Fox News.

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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