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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of the editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]

Terry McAuliffe: The Manchurian Chairman?
The Clinton's enforcer is burying the Democratic Party. Don't stop now...
[Hugh Hewitt] 2/4/04

Terry McAuliffe, whom we ought to call the Manchurian Chairman, hit a new low Sunday, saying on ABC's "This Week": "George Bush never served in our military in our country. He didn't show up when he should have showed up. And there's John Kerry on the stage with a chest full of medals that he earned by saving the lives of American soldiers. So, as John Kerry says, 'Bring it on!'"

McAuliffe is to politics what MTV is to Superbowl halftime shows: Low, tacky, and a failure. He is also increasingly unstable to the point that Democratic Party pros have to worry about what he'll say next. Yesterday's pratfall was a perfect example of an attention-starved ego diverting the press from the themes that the candidates are trying to develop onto a stupid comment and the clean-up that follows.

McAuliffe has long been a candidate message-killer – so much so that the anti-Clinton wing of the Dems suspects he's programmed to take down anyone who gets in the way of Hillary's potential run in '08. Crackpot allegations from the Begala school of broadcasting sure don't help the Kerry campaign, so you have to wonder about the Manchurian Chairman theory, though I think the evidence supports the much more simple proposition that McAuliffe is a world-class fool with too much money and powerful friends who didn't think about the Peter Principle until it was too late.

The Dems are stuck with McAuliffe through the convention, for which the Republican Party should be thankful. Having a buffoon in charge of the opposition is the sort of gift that keeps giving, as anyone who can recall McAuliffe's '02 prediction about the Florida governor's race or his '03 prediction about the California recall will attest.

McAuliffe's decision to deny that service in the national guard is service in the military – even as thousands of national guard have served in Iraq – is a blunder larger than any of his others, and trafficking in discredited urban myths gives you a glimpse of McAuliffe's desperation to turn the conversation to anything except Kerry's way-left voting record, or his role in the Dean meltdown, or the failure of Wes Clark to capture any significant support outside the loon caucus.

For the record: President Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard from May of 1968 to October of 1973. The long-ago discredited allegations that the president was AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave) are a feature of the Michael Moore crowd who point to a period of months when Bush was working on a campaign in Alabama, from May to November 1972, and did not fly. As the New York Times has reported in the past: "A National Guard official and Mr. Bush's spokesmen have said that he made up the missed dates, as Guard regulations allow."

Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie labeled McAuliffe's lies "slanderous," "despicable," and "reprehensible" – which they are – but not even the dimwits in the national press corps are going to chase that rabbit, so only McAuliffe and the party he leads look bad as a result.

I hope the RNC provides a 24x7 cable show for McAuliffe and, in the interim, invites all those outraged with yet another clownish moment from the Alfred E. Neuman of American politics to skip the getting mad and go straight to the getting even via a donation at

§ Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. He blogs regularly at and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly Standard.

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