John McCaslin

So many congressmen and senators have followed President Bush's lead and visited Iraq in recent weeks that the political novelty of such risky journeys has worn off.

So what are we to make of this week's Iraqi sojourn by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and a handful of other members, if not history?

They are among the first lawmakers to "slumber in Baghdad," touts the National Republican Congressional Committee. Once they awaken, the delegation is scheduled to peek inside Saddam Hussein's spider hole.

HEAD COUNT

National security will be "enhanced" by President Bush's proposed changes in U.S. immigration policy that would grant amnesty to millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States.

So argues Cato Institute immigration analyst Daniel T. Griswold, who labels the current immigration system "dysfunctional."

National security would be enhanced, he says, because Bush's proposal "would begin to drain the swamp of smuggling and document fraud that facilitates illegal immigration, and would encourage millions of currently undocumented workers to make themselves known to authorities."

HUNK RETURN

The man who hopes to dethrone Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle by winning his South Dakota seat is no stranger to Capitol Hill.

Republican John Thune, who this week hired as his campaign manager GOP operative Dick Wadhams, is a former South Dakota congressman whom we quoted after Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont abandoned the Republican Party and catapulted Daschle into the majority leader's chair.

"Many people in South Dakota think Daschle is back in D.C. mowing Jim Jeffords' lawn," he quipped.

Another time we disclosed that Thune topped a list of 12 congressmen voted by female lawmakers as the "manliest" men on Capitol Hill. The dozen "hunks" were later pinup boys for a congressional calendar. (Sorry ladies, but Thune, 43, is married.)

Thune was unsuccessful in a 2002 bid against incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.

NONPARTISAN ISSUE

The Catholic Church, specifically its Priests for Life organization, is launching "National Christian Voter Registration Sundays" in advance of the November presidential election.

The effort at Catholic parishes nationwide (registration dates are the Sundays of Jan. 18, March 7, May 2, July 4 and Sept. 5) is part of the church's antiabortion strategy for this election year. As for supporting a particular party or candidate?

"All our activities are totally nonpartisan," answers the Rev. Frank Pavone. "But nonpartisan doesn't mean timid or halfhearted." Priests for Life has a multimillion-dollar budget and staff of 40.


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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