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Memo from Cheney: Do not write this down

One of the major concerns of historians and academics, as society moved into the electronic age, was that many of the written documents -- letters, diaries, messages and memos -- so important in reconstructing events later would be deleted over time and not left for archivists to pore over as in previous centuries.

Well, historians need not worry about memo deletions as far as Vice President Dick Cheney’s files are concerned.

He doesn’t write memos. He leaves no paper trail. On purpose.

Speaking last week at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Ford’s one-time White House chief of staff said: “Researchers like to come and dig through my files to see if anything interesting turns up.”

“I want to wish them luck,” the vice president said to a laughing audience. “But the files are pretty thin. I learned early on that if you don’t want your memos to get you in trouble someday, just don’t write any.”

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Something about Kerry

Maybe John Kerry should have stayed underground.

The Massachusetts senator’s appearance Monday at the University of Florida led to the controversial -- and videotaped -- arrest of a student who was giving him a hard time. As the tape vividly captured, and as was reported in the local newspaper, school police sought to remove Andrew Meyer, 21, as he harangued Kerry from a microphone set up for audience questions. Meyer protested and struggled with the officers. Then, as he howled in protest, they Tasered him.

The incident led to a small student protest, the suspension of two officers involved in the arrest, pending a probe, and a news conference by University of Florida President Bernie Machen.

Kerry felt compelled to issue the following statement:

“In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention. I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody. I was not aware that a Taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured. I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted.”

As he watched the melee unfold, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee unleashed his not-so-well-honed wit. In an attempt to defuse the situation, he says of Meyer: “Unfortunately, he’s not available to come up here and swear me in as president.”

John Kerry and humor . . . a lethal combination.

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Thank you, sort of

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson got a good review from a top Iowa political reporter for his speech last week at Tom Harkin’s steak fry, which is really a steak grill.

Although some other observers had a different opinion, the Des Moines Register’s David Yepsen said Richardson “gave the best overall speech of the day” in front of the 12,000 Democratic activists. “He was forceful,” Yepsen continued. “He was specific. He gave good sound bites.”

Richardson has remained mired in the second tier of candidates with Sens Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, so Yepsen’s respected view was welcome, touted by the governor’s campaign in a mass e-mail.

But then came the harsh light of the next day. Richardson appeared in Washington to speak to a union conference, whose endorsement is keenly coveted by any Democratic candidate.

Richardson concluded his remarks by saying, “Thank you, AFSCME.”

Thanking the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees would have been fine, but Richardson was addressing the Service Employees International Union.

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First lunch, then . . . ?

Joe Trippi, a senior advisor to former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, is in a bit of a tizzy over a Hillary Rodham Clinton luncheon fundraiser in Washington. The Edwards campaign says people donating $1,000, or bundlers bringing in $25,000, get to sit down with Clinton supporters -- who also happen to be Democratic congressional members of a Homeland Security-related committee -- and talk about, well, homeland security.

In an e-mail to supporters, Trippi launches a pretty good condemnation of the perception that the New York senator is selling access -- conjuring images of some of her husband’s fundraising activities and the renting out of the Lincoln Bedroom. All this while the Norman Hsu case is still echoing.

But then Trippi goes on to suggest supporters counter that purchased access with $25 to $100 donations to the Edwards campaign, which of course carries its own unseemly baggage. Have the Edwards folks ever encountered any events around which they couldn’t build a pitch?

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Thompson debates

If you’ve been wondering how Fred Thompson, the Republicans’ newest candidate, will do in a debate against the other GOP competitors, mark your calendar for Oct. 9.

The Thompson campaign announced he will participate in the Michigan Republican Party debate in Dearborn on MSNBC and CNBC, plus two other debates in October -- a WMUR-TV debate in Manchester, N.H., on Oct. 14, and a Fox News debate in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 21.

The former Tennessee senator will be closely watched in those debates by voters and the other campaigns, which have had numerous chances to hone their skills, for how quickly he can think on his feet and handle the issues.

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Sen. Craig’s new friend

The American Civil Liberties Union has often been on the opposite side of issues with members of Congress, including Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho). But that matters not a bit to the ACLU now that Craig wants to withdraw his guilty plea to a disorderly conduct charge after his arrest in a sting operation in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport. ACLU lawyers have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Minnesota on behalf of Craig, arguing that the method used to arrest him “was likely unconstitutional.”

Anthony Romero, the group’s executive director, says in a news release: “The real motive behind the type of sting operations like the one that resulted in Sen. Craig’s arrest is not to stop people from inappropriate activity. It is to make as many arrests as possible -- arrests that sometimes unconstitutionally trap innocent people. If the police really want to stop people from having sex in public bathrooms, they should put up a sign banning sex in the restroom and send in a uniformed officer to patrol periodically. That works.”

Taking note of the obvious, Romero added: “Sen. Craig has not always been a great friend of civil liberties, but you shouldn’t have to endorse the civil liberties of others to keep your own.”

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Times staff writer Scott Martelle contributed to this report.

Excerpted from The Times’ political blog, Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/topoftheticket.


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