Ol’ Mr. 5 Percent
Ralph Nader is about as popular in Boston this week as Bill Buckner, who cost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series. Nader, who made a brief appearance in Boston last week, has been shut out and shut down at every turn by Democrats still disgusted with him for costing Al Gore the presidential election in 2000.
In the hallways, on the streets, at parties and news conferences around the convention, Democrats desperately seeking the White House have been openly critical of Nader. Here are just a few examples:
“I didn’t understand 2000,” said former
Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. “And I don’t understand what he’s doing now. … Of course he ought to get out of the race. I’ve already told him. He did a terrible disservice to the country in 2000. And I think he oughta quit it.”
“I pummeled him,” said filmmaker Michael Moore, recounting a recent meeting he had with Nader. “I said, ‘What are you, crazy? Are you nuts?’… Nader could have been a really great man. But he destroyed his legacy.”
“I don’t like Nader,” threw in James Carville. “I don’t like anything about him.”
“He’s a former friend, a former mentor,” opined People for the American Way President Ralph Neas, very much a former Nader protégé.
Told about these biting comments, Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said, “It’s the same old story. These people are acting out of fear.”
Hastert Aide Having Blast in Boston. John Feehery, press secretary to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), is having a rip-roaring time at the Democratic National Convention. Feehery came to Boston to help lead the Republicans’ “truth squad,” but every time HOH has seen him he’s seemed rather relaxed. Earlier this week worried Democrats went so far as to have two volunteers tracking Feehery whereabouts, but called off the dogs when they figured out he was mostly hitting the party circuit.
Feehery’s has made the scene at many hot-ticket parties this week, including Roll Call’s jazz-and-single-malt party with The Economist, The New Republic and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States on Monday night. He tells HOH other highlights this week have included: taking his cuts at Fenway Park and enjoying the free hot dogs and beer; going to MTV’s Rock the Vote party featuring the Black-Eyed Peas on Tuesday; partying with Blue Dog Democrats Sunday night at the Roxy, where the Neville Brothers performed; and attending liberal Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) party Sunday night at J.J. Foley’s Irish pub.
“The parties have been a lot of fun,” Feehery said. “But it’s also been fun poking fun at the Democrats.”
Feehery isn’t the only Republican who’s been enjoying a free ride off the Democrats (and the news media) this week. Others who have been spotted include GOP pollster Frank Luntz (although it’s unclear whether the Republican Party still claims him) and oodles of GOP lobbyists.
“I’ve seen a lot of Republican lobbyists at the parties I’ve been to,” Feehery said, laughing. “They say, ‘Hey! What are you doing here?’ And I say, ‘Yeah, what are you doing here?’”
Stiller’s Dad Cooler Than Ben? The joint Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee/Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee late-night bash at Felt nightclub was such a sizzler of a ticket that one of the biggest Hollywood actors couldn’t even get in. DSCC flak Brad Woodhouse bragged that people were waiting forever behind the red felt ropes. “It was so hot,” Woodhouse bragged of his party that actor Ben Stiller got turned away — even though Stiller’s actor dad Jerry got in.
Calling 007. Tuesday night, shortly before Teresa Heinz Kerry addressed the convention, a knot of humanity was clogging the entrance to the floor. A look past the klieg lights revealed Moore holding court, as he has been all week.
One attendee trying to get past was not amused when a security officer told him politely but firmly that he had to wait until the commotion was over.
Irritated, he fired back, “We all have to wait because of Roger Moore?”
Alas, James Bond was not in the building but security was just as tight. The guard refused to answer when the man asked, repeatedly, whether she was a Fleet Center guard or the personal bodyguard of Michael Moore. Indeed, Moore has been traveling with several burly guards with earpieces.
Taken for a Ride. A Boston cabbie alleged to HOH that he was stiffed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) after what sounded like a routine cabbie-passenger chitchat. Maybe the Boss was cranking on the radio — we’re not sure — but somehow the subject of Bruce Springsteen and Asbury Park came up. “Well, I’m the Senator from New Jersey,” Lautenberg, a millionaire several times over, told his cab driver. When they arrived at the Senator’s destination, the fare was $4.85. Lautenberg gave the driver a $5 bill and a single and asked for 50 cents back. The offended cabbie gave back the dollar bill and told Lautenberg he didn’t do change.
Paging Dr. Rice. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has his own Dr. Rice. When Kerry’s national security team held a press conference Wednesday, reporters questioned how Kerry would fight the war on terrorism differently.
While informal advisers such as retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Vice Admiral Lee Gunn listed a litany of ways in which Kerry would stand apart from President Bush, one thing seemed certain — a Dr. Rice would still be on call in the Kerry White House.
This one, Dr. Susan Rice — no relation to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice — was named two weeks ago as the Kerry campaign’s senior adviser on national security.
Like Bush’s Dr. Rice, Kerry’s Dr. Rice brings extensive experience to the job. Most recently a senior fellow for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, Rice served under then-President Bill Clinton as assistant secretary of State for African affairs and as a special assistant to the president and senior director of African affairs at the National Security Council.
Country Cousin Comes to Town. Newbie Rep. Stephanie Herseth (S.D.) has, unsurprisingly, been the toast of the town this week, a symbol of Democratic hopes that they can compete this fall in traditionally Republican states.
Still, it was still rather surprising to see Herseth with a guest speaker’s slot at the New York delegation breakfast Tuesday, introduced by former state Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hope as “a really stunning young woman from South Dakota.”
Herseth is one of those Democrats who must forever walk a line between her party’s liberal tendencies at the national level and her constituents’ bedrock conservative values.
First, she sounded like a small town girl visiting the big city.
“It sure is a treat for someone from South Dakota, one of the country’s smallest delegations to address one of the country’s biggest delegations,” she said.
But then she sounded more like a true believer. Speaking of her own special election victory two months ago, she said, “A true blue Democrat was elected in a red-blood red state.”
She also bragged that South Dakota is now one of four “progressive” states in the union. “Massachusetts, Hawaii and North Dakota are the others” with all-Democratic Congressional delegations. And she singled out Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), one of the most liberal Members around, as a mentor.
So how will South Dakota voters feel about Herseth consorting with all those New Yorkers? “They already know I consort with New Yorkers,” she laughed.
John Bresnahan, Josh Kurtz, Emily Pierce, Louis Jacobson and Amy Keller contributed to this report.
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