Enemy of the Week

A Boxer’s Dozen

They’re not the only ones competing in the most contested race since the Kentucky Derby.

By 1.30.05

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Another election, another smashing setback for the Democratic insurgency. How long will it take for the party of George McGovern, Sidney Blumenthal and Edward Kennedy to recover from bloody Sunday? Ol' George and young Sid have long been fla-fla, but for Ted the huge turnout yesterday was particularly devastating. Last week he thought he'd be hailed as the new Chamberlain, the next Benedict Arnold, the white Jesse Jackson, the Irish Jacques Chirac, the trans-gendered Jane Fonda. Alas, he remains the Crown Prince of Chappaquiddick, a perennial bottom feeder and all-purpose lout. "Johnny, we hardly knew ye," a hanger-on once said of JFK. "Teddy, wish we didn't know ye," everyone and his sister now says of the great one.

At E.C. we've made our choice, and that is to go with the other magnificent solon from the rocky shores of Massachusetts. Forget his oratorio on yesterday's Meet the Press. John Kerry had already won our hearts and minds when he voted against Condoleezza Rice before voting against her. Talk about your classic flip-flop.

Kerry's profile in courage earned him an honorary spot among a yeasty collection knows as "The Boxer's Dozen." Thirteen foolhardy Democratic and independent senators summoned the strength to vote no on Dr. Rice's confirmation. Heading the list was the mighty-mouthed Barbara Boxer, its only woman, which is kind of how she likes things. The group included a Klansman, a Hawaiian, a Hoosier who is not a Klansman, a Dayton who is not from Ohio, and a Kennedy, but no Schumer, darn, for fear of what Hillary might do.

It was a useful Democratic exercise in voting, regardless. For all their staunch opposition and smearing, Democrats lost on Rice, 85-13, a losing margin actuaries foresee as increasingly more likely as Democrats age. The experience also polished the résumé of rising star Evan Bayh. Heretofore regarded as a sensible hawkish sort, in coming out against Rice he demonstrated all the requisite wimp credentials he'll need to qualify for the next Democratic ticket. He could be Hillary's Quayle. Just no touching.

Ms. Hillary's gone through a lot of ups and downs herself of late. One day she's Randall Terry, the next Comrade Krupskaya (that's Lenin's wife, for those of you with blissful memory loss). Emphatically she came out against "rugged individualists," which might explain why Bill Clinton has never seemed to be particularly muscular. She added she doesn't want to live in a country of such people. Then she joked that she could hear "some of my friends on radio and in the blog world" cheering the possibility of her emigration. Who taught her to tease like that?

In other welcome news, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather continue to serve with their National Guard units in Bush's Babylon. As we speak, Special Ops efforts are under way to keep them there for the duration. That's why Dan is doing his darnedest to qualify for stateside return. "But no one should be mistaken: the guerrilla war fighters suffered substantial loss in the election, both in fact and in perception," he reported last night. "The momentum shifted in favor of the U.S. military and Iraqi forces a few months ago, and has accelerated in their direction with the election." He's praying Bush can pull some strings with Rumsfeld to win him an early discharge.

It may be a case of too little, too late. Cold-staring readers of the Washington Post will recall its famed TV critic Tom Shales's Inauguration Day effort to rehabilitate Dan on Bush Air Guard Gate. It was more fun than a new sitcom: "Rather, busy with other news duties, basically just served as on-air correspondent. He did not do the reporting." Shales shilled.

"It's common knowledge that Bush was a spoiled little rich boy who did not serve with any great distinction," Shales wrote. Anyway, it was all Mary Mapes' fault. Every great news organization "has its blots." Viacom chief Les Moonves is a pig. "He has failed to come to Rather's defense even after Rather's 30 years of unquestioned loyalty to the company."

But save your tears. At least until you've read Shales's coup de grâce: "Rather is such a team player that he apparently felt that standing by the controversial report, even as it was being condemned left and right (mostly right, of course), was the equivalent of standing by his colleagues and being supportive of people he had worked with and grown to trust."

Shales, Dan, Hillary, Evan, Barbara, Teddy, John -- so many fine candidates on our EOW ballot. At the risk of alienating Sunni readers, let's pick a safe winner and go with the tallest guy in the bunch. For security reasons, we'll not repeat his name. But everyone except maybe Dan knows who he is. Having done the reporting, though, we're confident we can slip his name to Dan so he can dutifully announce it in his next broadcast from Baghdad. We'll be watching.

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