Parochial attire

John McCaslin
|
Posted: Jun 03, 2004 12:00 AM

White House correspondents planning to cover the upcoming meeting between President Bush and Pope John Paul II are being told to sport their Sunday best.

"Men should wear dark suits and dark shoes," says a White House memo. "Women should wear dark skirts - below the knee - covered legs, and closed-toe shoes. Women meeting the Pope are required to wear a veil."

If lady scribes don't own a veil, one will be provided by a White House advance team.

KERRY'S 'POTATOE'

"I enjoyed your alluding to some of John Kerry's slippery use of the language," Jonathan Pitts of Baltimore writes of our recent list of "Kerryisms."

"However, when it comes to pure malapropos, George Bush has nothing on the senator. I found it especially funny when (Kerry) called something or other the Bush team did as 'the most unprecedented (attack) in the history of politics.'

"Being 'the most unprecedented' is like being 'the most pregnant' or 'the most dead.' That's not nuance, it's malapropism. If Bush had said it, they'd be all over him."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Give 'em hell, George."
- George X. Ferguson, 84, of Salinas, Calif. - a retired U.S. Army major who was a battle-patrol commander and mortar-platoon leader and who served in Tunisia, Libya, Italy, France, Germany and Austria - shouting to President Bush as he took the stage at the National World War II Memorial dedication.

WALKING WEAPONS

The most dangerous weapons of mass destruction threatening this country today are suicide bombers.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, points out that no matter the weapon or delivery system - hijacked airliners, shipping containers, suitcase nukes or anthrax spores - operatives have to "enter and work in the United States" to carry out the attacks.

"In a very real sense, the primary weapons of our enemies are not inanimate objects at all, but rather the terrorists themselves - especially in the case of suicide attackers," he says. "Thus keeping the terrorists out or apprehending them after they get in is indispensable to victory."

As Krikorian quotes President Bush as saying, "Our country is a battlefield in the first war of the 21st century."

CRITICAL OF KIN

There are so many critics of George W. Bush these days that after the critics grow weary of criticizing the president they criticize each other. Case in point:

"One of the central charges made by left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore in his upcoming Bush-bashing film ('Fahrenheit 911') is being undermined by another critic of the president - former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke," says Marc Morano of CNSNews.com.

He notes that the film points to Bush's rumored relationship with Saudi Arabia's elite as the motivating factor in the president supposedly allowing relatives of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden to fly out of the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"But Clarke recently admitted that he alone approved the exit of the bin Laden kin - damaging the key premise of Moore's film," says Morano.

ONE MAN'S CAUSE

President Bush was in Nashville recently attending a hospital technology seminar at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and fund-raising dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Clay Jackson.

At the latter event, there were three tiers of contributors: $2,000 to hear Bush speak, $10,000 for a photo opportunity and $25,000 to dine with the president.

"Tight-fisted conservative that I am, I chose the lowest-priced option," Paul H. Kuhn Jr. tells this column.

"The president was terrific," he adds. "He spoke for about 30 minutes and was both humorous - 'I want every American to have a home like the Jacksons' - ... and serious when he touched on Iraq and other global issues."

After the remarks, Kuhn found an opportunity to engage the president in a brief (Bush said exactly three words), but direct conversation.

"As he passed by, I hailed, 'Mr. President. Medical marijuana.' He paused, looked directly at me, and asked, 'For or against?' I responded, 'My late wife never would have made it through (chemotherapy) without it.'

"He continued eye contact and gave a quick nod, which indicated clearly (to me, at least), 'I got it.' Not, 'I agree,' but, 'What you said registered,'" Kuhn says. "I believe the president is a compassionate man - he mentioned several times the importance of helping those who suffer - so I hope my brief interchange was another small step in moving the administration to a new policy on medical marijuana."

A recent endorsement by the Texas Medical Association can't hurt.

DIXIE STRAINS

No offense to the Confederate Memorial Committee of the District of Columbia, but we always chuckle when reading our annual invitation to the Confederate Memorial Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, site of the 90-year-old Arlington Confederate Monument.

"This year we have expanded our program ... and we will now increase the number of verses of 'Dixie' to five!" reads the invitation.

"If you cannot hold up while singing five verses of 'Dixie,' then just take a few seconds to listen to the strains of this Confederate anthem as it floats across the countryside once belonging to Robert E. Lee."

Lee wrote that his affections and attachments to his 1,100-acre estate and mansion overlooking the Potomac River - atop what is now Arlington National Cemetery - "are more strongly placed than at any other place in the world."

On April 17, 1861, Virginia adopted an Ordinance of Secession. Five days later, Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and left for Richmond. The next time he saw his confiscated estate it had become a military cemetery.

Sunday's ceremonies (June 6) begin at 3 p.m. at the Confederate Monument. This year's speaker is James Robertson Jr., great-grandson of a Confederate soldier and alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech. Today his Civil War Era class, with 250 students each semester, is the largest of its kind in the nation.

STALWART SUPPORTERS

No wonder John Kerry decided recently that he won't delay acceptance of his party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention, a tactic that would have allowed him to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash from private donors until such time as he did accept.

An unnamed group of "leading Democrats," we've learned, has agreed to match - dollar for dollar - every contribution received by the Democratic National Committee in its current fund-raising drive on behalf of Kerry.

BAD SECRET?

Republicans say Democrats are trying to get out in front of the "worst-kept secret" in Washington - the latter party's actual prospects for retaking the Senate this fall.

"The Senate Democrats are realizing it's a lot easier to talk about winning than actually doing it," says Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

As they say in Las Vegas, it's a matter of odds.

"To win a clear majority, Senate Democrats would have us believe they are going to win eight out of the 10 competitive races, even though a majority of those states are solid Republican states (in which) President Bush will run very strong," says Allen.

Because the Republican Party seems to be betting its candidates will ride Bush's coattails into office, Democrats are quick to cite polls showing public support for the president is "eroding" on a daily basis.

MICHELIN MUZZLE

Realizing that thousands of sportsmen need dependable tires to get them where they're going, leading tire manufacturer Michelin has decided to end its support of a national anti-hunting group.

Michelin has informed the congressional lobby group U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance that its sponsorship of a division of the American Humane Association would end with a current bobble-head promotion.

Michelin is giving a $5 donation to the AHA for every Michelin Man bobble head distributed between May 1 and June 25. The toys sell online and are free with the purchase of new tires.

"Businesses are often uninformed about the actual agenda of animal-rights organizations," says alliance president Bud Pidgeon, who notes that the AHA uses donations to oppose "all hunting."