Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2003/ 7 Tishrei 5764

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http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Howard Dean has more guts than all his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination combined, although that's not saying much. The problem for Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman (has Edwards dropped out yet?) is that they can attack Dean's semi-weekly gaffes and still not dent his base of activist Democrats who actually vote in the primaries. These people don't care that the Man From Vermont (via Park Ave.) calls Palestinian murderers "soldiers" (actually, most probably agree) or that he's flip-flopped on Medicare and the Social Security retirement age. (Which ought to be raised to 70; when SS was instituted by a former president an eon ago, life expectancy was much lower.) They love his anger, the grenades he throws at President Bush and his rivals, the audacity to mimic Sen. John McCain and, most of all, his unflinching reminders that he never would've invaded Iraq.

Dean stumbled onto the internet fundraising technique, but quickly embraced it and is killing his opponents with cash contributions. More importantly, unlike the Beltway candidates, he's collecting both small and large amounts of dollars, taking a lesson from the GOP. Dean is also leading the attack against Wesley-sorry, General Wesley-Clark for his recent conversion to the Democratic Party. Appearing on Face the Nation last Sunday, Dean said: "[Clark's] a good guy, very qualified, but he was a Republican until 25 days ago, and I think that's going to be hard to swallow for a lot of Democrats." He also noted that the Hero of Kosovo, Mr. Multi-Lateral, voted for both Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

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Dean needn't fear Clark, at least until Hillary Clinton gets into the race, as the man fired by her husband falters and it's necessary for her to "save the party." The biggest tip-off that Clark's is a phantom candidacy is that Bruce Lindsey, who acted as Bill Clinton's G. Gordon Liddy, is involved in the General's nascent campaign. And you have to love that on May 11, 2001, at a speech before a Republican audience in Little Rock, AK, (brought up by the Wall Street Journal last week) Clark praised not only Reagan and former President Bush, but also his son and the men and women in the current administration. Clark now derides Bush's tax cuts as "reckless," but that speech came after the first round of cuts was being debated and harshly criticized by lifelong Democrats, was well known. The Journal's Holman W. Jenkins Jr. was one of the few journalists who put the obscene vilification of ousted New York Stock Exchange's Richard Grasso in perspective. On Sept. 24, Jenkins wrote: "In all the folderol about Dick Grasso's paycheck last week, one question worth pondering is how did it come to be everybody's business what he was paid? The money isn't yours or mine but comes out of the revenues of the New York Stock Exchange, owned by its 1,366 seatholders…

"Whatever you think of the exchange's defenestrated impresario and its goofy board of directors, the spectacle put on by Mr. Grasso's critics was hardly more attractive, full of self-righteousness and the kind of chicken-bleep hostility that isn't even brave enough to find its own target but simply looks around for a socially approved punching bag."

Grasso did make a ton of money, but is anyone asking Alex Rodriguez to give back his $22 million for a season's work that resulted in yet another last-place finish by the Texas Rangers?

Improbably, the man who unwittingly comes to Grasso's defense is none other than Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman, currently on tour hawking his awful book The Great Unraveling.

On page 208, preaching about Medicare, Krugman says: "It's one thing if the rich can afford bigger houses or fancier vacations than ordinary families; Americans accept such differences cheerfully."

To be fair, Krugman adds, "But a society in which rich people get their medical problems solved, while ordinary people die from them, is too harsh even for us."

So it would seem Krugman would "cheerfully" acknowledge Grasso's huge compensation. I do love, however, the wacky "economist" including himself in the ranks of "ordinary people" who can't get decent medical care. I had no idea that Princeton University or the New York Times, Krugman's two employers, had such lousy insurance programs.

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

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