And now the most captivating two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
"You Have Got To Be Kidding"
At the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was stopped in the hallway by a reporter from Reuters, the wire service that refuses to use the word terrorist except in quotes. The reporter asked Rumsfeld, in light of detention of ex-Army Sgt. John Muhammad in the sniper case, if the U.S. military "felt responsible for creating" the alleged killer. Rumsfeld replied, "You have got to be kidding." The reporter said he was not. Rumsfeld said he and the military certainly did not feel responsible.
At the daily briefing later, this exchange ensued:
QUESTION: Could you put that in perspective, in terms of, it's not necessarily a black eye for the military or anything like that?
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: First, I think it's ludicrous to think this is a black eye on the military. We have what, between active duty and reservists today, over 2.2 million serving. They turn over at some rate, so there are tens of millions out there who have served.
Offering Words of Wisdom?
As police were closing in on the two suspects in the sniper investigation, Newsday, the Long Island daily newspaper, was publishing a column by the veteran journalist Jimmy Breslin demanding to know why President Bush had continued to travel the country making "these cheap campaign tours." Breslin said the president should have been "helping to repel the attack on Washington" by taking a walk through the Maryland suburbs. As for Attorney General Ashcroft, Breslin said he should have posted the National Guard around schools. He also said of Ashcroft, a devout Christian, "I think he goes to church to pray against people."
No. 1 Target Is Jeb Bush
Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe says his top priority in November is to defeat Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Speaking to staff at the New York Times, McAuliffe said, "Jeb is gone. There won't be anything as devastating to President Bush as his brother's losing in Florida." The Democratic Party plans to send about 1,000 lawyers to the polls in Florida, part of an army of approximately 10,000 lawyers who have volunteered to work for the Democrats on Election Day. Meanwhile, scandals involving Democratic voter registration efforts have marred their get-out-the vote drives in South Dakota and Wisconsin, and Republicans also claim Democrats have tried to register dead people in Arkansas.