President Bush, the Father, Sticks Up for His Son

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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I've Liberated the City!
John Simpson, the World Affairs editor of the BBC doesn't think much of President Bush, or of the way U.S. TV networks, and particularly FOX News, have covered the war on terrorism. At a literary festival in Cheltenham, England, Simpson said President Bush is a "glove puppet of his Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." And he described FOX's coverage of the Afghanistan conflict as "dysfunctional, grotesquely patriotic and embarrassing." Simpson, by the way, got into Afghanistan last year by dressing up in a woman's burka. And later, as the Taliban fled Kabul, Simpson got there ahead of the advancing Northern Alliance. He said, "It's an exhilarating feeling to be liberating a city."

That Was Then, This Is Now
President Bush, the father, says his son is facing the most difficult issues of any president since the Civil War. Speaking at a fund-raising dinner in Iowa for Senate candidate Greg Ganske, the senior Bush said, "he is wrestling with problems probably as tough as any president has wrestled with since Lincoln...Roosevelt, of course, faced World War II, but there we knew who the enemy was. The enemies we face in this country today are very, very different. They are shadowy -- cowardly you might say. They can strike anywhere." The Des Moines Register said the elder Bush said nothing about his own war against Saddam Hussein.

On Second Thought...
New Jersey substitute Senate candidate Frank Lautenberg, who earlier appeared to agree to debate his Republican opponent 21 times, now apparently will not debate at all. With the election now two weeks off, Lautenberg, who retired from the Senate in 2000,  said, "I've been out of circulation for two years. I think it's important that I touch base with people in the flesh, before they see me on TV in a debate." Republican candidate Doug Forrester, who was well ahead in the race until the scandal plagued incumbent Senator Robert Torricelli quit the race last month, now trails late-entry Lautenberg in polls, and says Lautenberg is "hiding."

Free at Last, Free at Last
You have to read all the way to the last paragraph to find it, but the New York Times reports that the mood in one of those Iraqi prisons emptied by Saddam Hussein over the weekend changed dramatically when those inside realized the amnesty was for real. The usual anti-American and anti-Israel chants faded, and "in one cell block, a guard smiled broadly at an American photographer, raised his thumb and said 'Bush, Bush.'"