John McCaslin

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.) learned a hard lesson about the pursuit of justice in the time of war.

First, the congressman met for 2½ hours with an unnamed soldier from a military unit assigned to the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The congressman vowed after the meeting that those Americans responsible for abusive acts against Iraqi prisoners, no matter how high up in rank, would receive due punishment in the court of law.

Then, a short time later, Weldon received tragic news that one of his neighbors, Nick Berg, who lived less than 15 minutes from the congressman's home, was, as he put it, "brutalized in the most unbelievable way imaginable by those same people over in Iraq who expect us to treat those perpetrators of crimes in the prison with justice."

COURTING HISPANICS

Both major political parties anxiously await Hispanic voter projections for the 2004 presidential election, to be showcased next week in Washington by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Hispanics are the second-largest population group in the country, making up 5.4 percent of the total electorate in the 2000 presidential election. The association says they are poised to play a "critical role" in determining the next U.S. president.

The group, we're told, will release a national projection, as well as Hispanic voting preferences in key states with significant populations of that community, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and New Mexico. Both parties continue to work overtime to attract the vote.

It's no irony that the Hispanic governor of New Mexico, Clinton administration Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, is among the frequently named contenders to become the running mate of likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

President Bush, meanwhile, enjoys strong Hispanic support in his home state, Texas, as well as among Cuban Americans in Florida, where brother Jeb Bush is governor.

NO NOSE FOR NEWS

President Bush is no news junkie, or so he informs Washington Times senior White House correspondent Bill Sammon.

"I don't watch the nightly newscasts on TV, nor do I watch the endless hours of people giving their opinion about things," Bush says in one of several intriguing chapters of Sammon's new book, "Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry and the Bush Haters."


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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