The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Lecture About the Lectern?
While some New Yorkers are blasting the Republican Convention's policies, others are condemning, of all things, its lectern, claiming the structure is a subliminal promotion of Christianity.
The main lectern, and a smaller one beside it, appear to have designs in the shape of a cross. The senior minister of Manhattan's Riverside Church, where Bill Clinton spoke on Sunday, says the lectern design is, "an unusual and inappropriate use of religious symbols in a political campaign."
The president of the Zionist Organization of America calls it, "upsetting." And a DNC spokesman, quoted by the New York Sun, insists, "The Republicans are very good at stagecraft." A Bush campaign spokesman, however, dismisses the idea, saying, "What will they come up with next?"
Personal Attacks Permitted
Just days after Amazon.com announced that, despite a policy against it, it would let the public write personal attacks in their online book reviews of the anti-Kerry book "Unfit for Command," and only that book, scores of Amazon customers are now calling for a boycott and threatening to cancel their accounts.
One customer says, "the hypocrisy and blatant liberal bias Amazon has shown is irritating and insulting." Another says, "Can't wait to see the stock plummet."
But at least one customer has had the opposite reaction, saying, "See ya, crybaby Republicans! ... I'm buying from [Amazon] forever."
Letter to Leader of House GOP
Billionaire and Moveon.org financier George Soros (search) has written a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (search), accusing Hastert of implying on this week's Fox News Sunday that Soros receives funds from drug cartels.
In the letter, Soros says, "you should be ashamed" and, "your dishonest smear tactics" are "deeply offensive." Soros then demands Hastert, "publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation."
But Hastert never said Soros was receiving funds from drug cartels, he said, "I don't know where George Soros gets his money, if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from."
And in a response to Soros' letter, Hastert says that by "drug groups" he meant groups trying to decriminalize drugs. He insists, "I never implied that you were a criminal and I never would."
Panel's Reviews Prompt Reaction
Our panel's reviews of last night's speeches by the Bush daughters and Mrs. Bush got even worse reviews than the panelists gave the speeches. Dolores Wilson of Columbia, Md wrote, "you came across like grumpy old men who need a good night's sleep."
Fred and Bill particularly annoyed Harry Pollard of Sisters, Oregon, who said, "Couldn't they find one nice thing to say about Laura Bush's speech? I thought it was great. Laura will draw in a lot more women's votes than those two pseudo manly girly men."
Sally Miller of Mobile, Alabama had no use for any of us: "What a bunch of dreary, gray, long-faced babblers. Our family loved the twins."
Added, David Studebaker, "I think they did a better job than Britney Spears or Madonna. Unlike the Kerry daughters, as Cyndi Lauper would say, 'Girls just want to have fun."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report