Royal pair

John McCaslin
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Posted: Feb 10, 2004 12:00 AM

Will King George retain his White House throne, or might we have King John?

While there are plenty of primaries left, odds are the president of the United States between 2005 and 2009 will be either George Walker Bush or John Forbes Kerry, both of whom have considerable "royal descents," according to Gary Boyd Roberts' new book, "Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants" (Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore).

Three of Bush's royal forebears were Robert Livingston the Elder of New York, first lord of Livingston Manor; George Elkington of New Jersey; and Col. Walter Ashton of Virginia.

As for Kerry, his mother was a Forbes whose ancestor, the Rev. John Forbes (died 1783), was a noted Anglican clergyman and magistrate in east Florida. Forbes' wife was Dorothy Murray, daughter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's matrilineal immigrant ancestors, James Murray of North Carolina and Massachusetts and Barbara Bennet of North Carolina. Thus, Kerry and Roosevelt are fourth cousins twice removed.

Kerry's mother's mother was Margaret Pyndal Winthrop, of the family that founded Massachusetts Bay, a granddaughter of Robert Charles Winthrop, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a great-grandson himself of Revolutionary statesman James Bowdoin, for whom the college is named.

FRESHMAN LETTUCE

More proof the recession is over: Three "green" congressmen, all Republicans, have broken the all-time freshman fund-raising record.

In 2003, Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia raised more than $1.5 million, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama raised more than $1.1 million and Rep. Bob Beauprez of Colorado more than $1 million. The previous record of slightly more than $1 million was set in 2001 by then-freshman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

In addition, according to National Republican Congressional Committee figures obtained yesterday,. Gingrey set the new cash-on-hand mark for a first-year man - $941,000 - while also paying off $125,000 in debt.

AMISH PRESERVATION

After years of trying to win protection for preserving the way of life of his Amish constituents, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania has finally succeeded.

Rep. Joe Pitts, whose 16th District encompasses Amish-rich Lancaster, has been pushing the Amish Labor bill ever since he first came to Congress eight years ago. Now, President Bush has signed the bill into law.

It allows Amish teenagers to enter apprenticeships after they complete their formal schooling, which is equivalent to eighth grade, exempting them from federal child labor laws that ban anyone under 18 from operating heavy machinery, such as saws used in furniture making.

"This is the way they learn to make a living," says Pitts. "The president's signature on this bill is a victory for the Amish, for religious liberty, and for diversity in America."

The Protestant congressman points out that the Amish came to America to escape persecution, worship and live freely, and their life and customs have remained mostly intact.

"They do not ask for Social Security or unemployment or anything from the government," he says. "They just want to be left alone to raise their children and make a living."

ABSTINENCE ANYONE?

Susan Harrison serves on a Raleigh, N.C.-based task force created to support abstinence sex education in schools. She was "delighted" when President Bush spoke in favor of abstinence in last month's State of the Union address.

"I was dismayed, however, a few days later by what I found on the Health and Human Services Web site (www.hhs.gov)," Harrison says. "Enter 'abstinence education' in the search mode, you will turn up many links to several multimillion-dollar organizations that actively lobby against abstinence education.

"D.C. doublespeak at its best," she says.

We clicked on link No. 6 on the HHS Web site and found a fact sheet presenting the pros and cons of abstinence-only sex education curriculum in the classroom, suggesting that "a comprehensive sexuality curriculum that includes safe sex education is more effective."

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry," says Harrison.

"The president is on the cutting edge in promoting abstinence rather than condoms for combating epidemic levels of sexually transmitted diseases. Let's hope (HHS) will soon catch up."

DISGUISING OSAMA

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kay Bailey Hutchison will host a special screening Thursday night (Feb. 12) of "Osama," the Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language film, at the Motion Picture Association of America office near the White House.

Premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, it is the first entirely Afghan film shot since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime, which banned all movies as contrary to Islam. Inspired by a true story, the film features a 12-year-old girl and her mother who lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work.

Her husband and brother dead, and unable to leave their house without a "legal companion," the mother disguises her daughter as a boy whom she calls Osama.

BUSHWHACKED WITHIN

An Act of Congress signed in 1846 by President Polk established the Smithsonian Institution to be the steward of the national collections.

President Bush and his supporters might be surprised to learn that the souvenir store of the National Museum of American History, the nation's flagship history museum, has been peddling magnets poking fun at the 43rd president and his vocal miscues. And in an election year, no less.

One magnet shows a picture of Bush and schoolchildren with the words: "'Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?' - George W. Bush." Another magnet quotes the president as saying: "'It's your money. You paid for it.' - George W. Bush."

When reached by this column, Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas thought the magnets might be related to a museum exhibition, "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden."

"We have the gavel from Clinton's impeachment proceedings on display, not people's most favorite moment of history," she observed. But hearing the magnets' message, she said: "I'm not sure they are appropriate."

The magnets and two similarly unflattering Bush cards were pulled from the shop early this week.

However, St. Thomas warns, once the museum's separate "American Presidency" exhibition gift shop opens March 15, the Bush items and a "full range of Republican and Democrat political humor" already ordered will go on sale.

Besides the Clinton impeachment gavel, more than 900 historical artifacts are on display, from George Washington's battle sword to the top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night of his assassination.

KERRY'S FAULT

A former aide to President Clinton is suggesting that John Kerry and the anti-Vietnam War organization he once led were the real reasons Republicans broke into Watergate in 1972.

Bob Weiner, the 1971-72 Youth Voter Registration director for the Young Democrats office at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and a White House staffer for six years, told this columnist that he has re-examined Watergate hearing volumes held by the Library of Congress.

He points out that Watergate burglar James McCord testified that the DNC office was broken into because its staff was "working closely with violence groups." Upon further questioning, he repeatedly named the Kerry-led Vietnam Veterans Against the War, which he termed "a violence-oriented group."