John McCaslin

For several years now, conservative actor Arnold Schwarzenegger has considered following Ronald Reagan's path from Hollywood to the California governor's mansion (and we all know where that can lead).

Also interested in California's top job, it turns out, is President Bush's trusted national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

We don't find any "Rice for Governor" in 2006 buttons while visiting with the Republican Party's official vendor for both the 2000 Republican National Convention and the 2001 presidential inaugural, but just released are "Arnold for Governor" buttons, warning: "Hasta La Vista Gray Davis."

The GOP Shoppe's (gopshoppe.com) Button Factory is offering the yet-to-be-announced Schwarzenegger campaign buttons for $3 each - half of which goes to the actor's Special Olympics charity.

If any Rice buttons appear, we'll be the first to let you know.

IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he's proven his critics wrong - including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Republican Rep. Jack Kemp of New York - who had "taken me to task" for arguing that the State Department was engaging in a "deliberate and systematic effort" to undermine President Bush's foreign policy.

Writing in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Gingrich observes: "Only six days following my remarks, Bush made the following statement to a group of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Michigan: 'The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government.' ...

"Contrast that vision with a recent classified report by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, titled 'Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes,'" says Gingrich.

The report, first obtained by the Los Angeles Times, states that "liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve" in Iraq, while "electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements."

One intelligence official told the newspaper the thrust of the report argues that "this idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible."

History will ultimately determine what side of the argument is correct. In the meantime, to nobody's liking except "anti-American elements," more and more U.S. soldiers are being killed by hostile fire in Iraq - more than two dozen since major combat ended on May 1.

OBESITY LIFESTYLE

Americans who don't appreciate an increasing number of food nannies telling them what - and what not - to stick in their mouths will be happy to know that the Free Congress Foundation has opened a new policy center: "Americans for Obesity."


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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