All Dressed Up

Nowhere To Go

Clinton is talking tough and raising more money for the Democrats this week as the struggling Gore preps to debate the fast-closing Bradley at Dartmouth on October 27. But behind the president's upbeat facade, he reportedly is feeling glum about being abandoned by both Hillary and Gore.

After Al said he just might ask Clinton to stay away from his campaign, the president— who is said to wake up in a "foul humor" these days— left the White House late on a rainy Sunday afternoon and, with only a few minutes' notice to Secret Service agents, played golf by himself at the deserted Army Navy Country Club across the Potomac in Virginia. According to Matt Drudge, quoting a White House press pool reporter: "He was playing in the pitch dark . . . swinging and wildly hitting balls everywhere."

On Monday, on the other hand, a report in The Washington Post portrayed the president as seeming more relaxed these days. According to the Post, the upshot is that Clinton is more likely to make embarassing comments— such as his characterizing the two sides in Northern Ireland as brawling drunks or his statement, while commenting on hate crimes, that the neo-Nazi who gunned down a postal worker after shooting up a Jewish center in Los Angeles scored a "two-fer" (killing a federal employee who also was a Philippine immigrant).

Meanwhile, on the third-party front, Ralph Nader is reportedly getting geared up to run for president on the Green ticket. Nader says he will make up his mind early next year and promised a "more extensive" campaign this time around. In the past, Nader's campaigns have been so spasmodic and understated that people scarcely knew he was running.

Pat Buchanan has scheduled an October 25 press conference in Virginia, with some media reports speculating he will jump ship and seek the Reform Party nomination against the Perot faction. However, reporters who know Buchanan think he may bow out of the race altogether.

Late Monday, the campaign took another weird turn when Bush HQ dismissed as "junk" Matt Drudge's account of a new book, Fortunate Son by J.H. Hatfield. According to Drudge, the book alleges that young Dubya was busted for possession in 1972 and later had his record expunged by a Houston judge after he worked as a youth counselor at a project for which his father was a big contributor and honorary chairman.

Cross Town
Klan Slime Hits City

Jeff Berry's American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is seeking to demonstrate in downtown Manhattan on October 23, is the most aggressive Klan in the nation, and one whose members may very well carry guns. It is not only the fastest-growing Klan in the country (now with 27 state chapters), but its members are hardass street brawlers who talk on one hand about being a white-pride civic group while also attacking blacks as "primitive, ugly jungle savages."

Berry's PR is clever. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Knights promote themselves by holding demos in unlikely places. After a rally announcement and the resulting civic uproar, a few Knights turn out in full regalia, protected by lines of cops. Anti-Klan crowds can be counted on to get out of control, perhaps pelting cops and coneheads with rocks. The Knights reap free publicity— and in one case have even sued a municipality for damages. When they hit town, they grab stacks of free newspapers, stick their leaflets inside, and redistribute them. As in New York, they fight anti-masking laws, with demos strategically timed close to Halloween.

Many of the American Knights have extensive rap sheets. A few highlights:

  • Ed Foster, Berry's former Pennsylvania leader, was convicted of leading the gang rape of a 19-year-old college student in 1969. After the attack he allegedly ran a pool cue through the woman's dog and torched her car. He served two years for the assault. When a slaughterhouse that Foster wanted to turn into a Klan church burned down in 1997, he was quoted as saying: "Who burned this down, I'm gonna kill. . . . They're dead. . . . They're murdered. . . . Their families are dead. . . . We are going to burn their houses down."

  • Michael McQueeney, until recently Berry's Wisconsin leader, went to prison in 1988 for six years after being convicted of conspiring to murder his ex-wife. McQueeney allegedly paid co-conspirators who first attempted to break the woman's legs with baseball bats. When that didn't work, they shot her in the face. She lived.

  • Ricky Linville, a North Carolina Knights leader, and his wife Linda were found guilty in 1997 of threatening an interracial couple who lived next door. Both were sentenced to a year on probation.

  • Jimmy Ray Shelton, Berry's national security chief, received a suspended sentence and five years' probation after police discovered a 9mm handgun and a shotgun in his car following a 1998 Klan rally in North Carolina.

  • In 1994, Berry himself was charged with taking $1000 from an elderly neighbor for roof work that he never did (he received a three-year suspended sentence and three years' probation). He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic at a June 1996 rally in New Castle, Indiana. He also has been accused by a former member of misappropriating Klan dues— a charge the imperial wizard denies.
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