Daily Archives: February 26, 2010

Senator John McCain Faces Difficult GOP Primary Battle by Gregory Hilton

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, faces a difficult battle this year in the Republican primary in his home state. The Senator has been in the forefront of conservative ranks for the past year, but his role as the co-author of the McCain-Feingold legislation (campaign finance reform), the McCain-Lieberman bill (climate change), and the McCain-Kennedy act (immigration reform) has come back to haunt him. The biggest liability in Arizona is the later. The immigration-reform package would not have relax enforcement at the borders. What it would have done, instead, is to provide an opportunity for citizenship to undocumented immigrants who’ve been here for many years, who’ve raised their children here, and who’ve worked hard and who’ve obeyed our laws. McCain’s support of this legislation nearly cost him the GOP’s presidential nomination.
McCain is moving to his right and his first 2010 TV commercial says: “Obama is leading an extreme left-wing crusade to bankrupt America. I stand in his way every day. If I get a bruise or two knocking some sense into heads in Washington, so be it.” Narrator: “Perhaps no battle in our lifetime is more vital than the one McCain fights now – a battle to save America, and save our jobs. Re-elect Senator McCain.”
McCain’s primary opponent is former Rep. J.D. Hayworth who has made many controversial statements. He had a completely safe GOP district but was defeated for re-election in 2006. Since then he has been a weatherman and has had a conservative Phoenix-based talk radio program. It has featured prominent spokesmen who are challenging President Obama’s birth certificate, and Hayworth has been cynically playing to the worst elements of the conservative base to gain wide support.
Hayworth keeps saying Obama must produce his birth certificate, “All I’m saying is, for every race across the country, especially with identity theft in the news, it would be great that people can confirm who they say they are,” Hayworth said. CNN host Campbell Brown reacted by saying, “Identity theft? I mean, come on. Is that honestly what this is about?”
Once again, Hayworth is also effectively using the immigration issue. McCain deserves tremendous credit for the border fence, enhanced security and quadrupling the the enforcement budget. Hayworth’s response is that McCain supported Bush’s plan, and his rhetoric sounds anti-Hispanic. There are very legitimate concerns regarding illegal immigration, but the former Congressman’s rhetoric will set us back with Hispanics.
A reporter for Spy magazine once played a trick on Hayworth. He asked him about U.S. relations with a fake country. It was from a Groucho Marx movie. Hayworth fell for it and spoke about how concerned he was about the situation in that nation. There will be other Hayworth stories in the weeks ahead.
McCain moved to the center from 1998 to 2008 when he was engaged in presidential politics. Now that his White House ambitions are behind him, McCain’s focus is on his conservative constituency back in Arizona. He no longer has to try to win praise from network anchors and The New York Times editorial board. His years of being a national reform candidate are over, and he is finally on the right course.

BOOK REVIEW: Happy Times by Princess Lee Bouvier Radziwill (168 pages) by Gregory Hilton

The author is the younger sister of the late First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and she witnessed many key events during JFK’s presidency and his rise to power. The Bouvier sisters were the epitome of taste, style and elegance in the 1960s and ’70s. Despite reports of a rivalry, they were each others most trusted confidants.
They were beautiful, smart, superbly dressed, and lived privileged lives in beautiful places. They also encountered tragic and unbelievably sad events, but you will not read about them in this book. It is a brief and pleasant memoir and is primarily about the 1960s.
“Happy Times” is a coffee table scrapbook which reveals a limited amount about her life story. The author acknowledges this is not a definitive biography and many important chapters in her life have been omitted. The Princess focuses on good times and vacations, and does not mention the assassination of her famous brother-in-law, the untimely death of her son, the strained relationship with her mother, or the divorce of her parents.
She first wed at the age of 20 and the marriage lasted for six years before being annulled. Her second marriage to Prince Stanisław Radziwiłł lasted 15 years. He was from a Polish noble family, and his mother died in a Soviet labor camp during WW II.
In 1979, Radziwill became engaged to Newton Cope, the owner of the Huntington Hotel on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. The marriage was called off five minutes before the wedding ceremony was to begin. The groom would not sign a prenuptial agreement which stipulated a $15,000/month payment to the bride. Her third marriage to director Herbert Ross in 1988 ended in divorce shortly before he died in 2001.
In the summer of 1999, her nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr, 38, was killed in a plane crash and three weeks later, her son Tony, 40, died of testicular cancer. The story of that painful summer is best told by her daughter in law, Carole Radziwill, in the New York Times best seller, “What Remains.”
The tragedies are known to all, but she reveals the love and compassion behind the scenes. Radziwill has a remarkable ability to be positive in the face of adversity. Her message is to focus on the good, not the sad. She believes it is best to move on and keep going.
There are no political statements or negative feelings in this book. Her ex-husbands and famous boyfriends would all approve of the text. A typical example is when she describes a fun filled friendship with author Truman Capote. They attended dozens of parties as a couple, but she omits their major falling out in his final years.
This is an easy read, and it is full of pictures of smiling celebrities from her remarkable life. They include Diana Vreeland, Rudolf Nureyev, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Leslie Caron, Peter Beard, Richard Meier and Aristotle Onassis. The photos from her private collection alone are worth the book’s price. You will understand why the sisters were regarded as American royalty, and you note many of the people in their circle were taken prematurely.
Both sisters were incredibly thin, and to curb her appetite, Jackie was a secret chain smoker. She died at the age of 64 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was probably related to smoking. The sisters were especially close to Jean Kennedy Smith and her husband Stephen Smith. She was JFK’s youngest sister, and he was a longtime smoker who died after a brief battle with lung cancer at the age of 62. Prince Radziwiłł also died of lung cancer at the age of 62.
“Happy Times” is the complete opposite of the many derogatory comments found in Diana Dubois’ “In Her Sister’s Shadow: An Intimate Biography of Lee Radziwill.” If you like Lee Radziwill, then this book will be enjoyable. If you want to read about extramarital affairs that happened 50 years ago and harsh criticism of her, than the Dubois book is for you.

Patriot Act is Reauthorized by Gregory Hilton

Despite all the rhetoric of the 2008 campaign, the House and Senate have both voted to reauthorize key provisions of the Patriot Act for another year without changes. The Senate passed it by voice vote and the House voted for it today by a 315 to 97 margin. In 2006, several organizations mounted a campaign to impeach George Bush because of the Patriot Act. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) noted, “The PATRIOT Act is a bipartisan bill that has helped save countless lives by equipping our national security community with the tools it needs to keep America safe. Recent terror attacks, such as those at Ft. Hood and on Christmas Day, demonstrate just how severe of a threat we are facing. There is simply no reason to weaken the PATRIOT Act—and every reason not to.”