Risky affairs

John McCaslin
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Posted: Sep 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Uncle Sam is advertising for a Washington-area public relations firm to initiate outreach to disgruntled Iraqi citizens because "anti-coalition forces have sown doubt, fear and distrust in a significant portion of the Iraqi population."

"The U.S. government is soliciting proposals for an 'aggressive' and comprehensive PR and advertising push in Iraq to convey military and diplomatic goals to Iraqis and gain their support," reports odwyerpr.com, the online version of Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter.

The contract is through the Baghdad-based Multi National Corps-Iraq, or MNC-I, as the U.S. military entity is known. MNC-I is charged jointly with offensive operations against insurgents and economic development and stability efforts.

According to O'Dwyer's Newsletter, a PR firm is needed because "recent polls suggest support for the (U.S.-led) coalition is falling and more and more Iraqis are questioning coalition resolve, intentions and effectiveness."

The unprecedented contract, which could be awarded by Oct. 1, says PR tasks include outreach to warring segments of Iraqi society, including Kurds, Sunnis, Shia, and former Iraqi military - by no means a walk in the park.

MNC-I goes so far as to state that "the remains of PR people will be handled the same as U.S. soldiers, and shipped to Kuwait," O'Dwyer writes. "The PR firm must coordinate the movement of the remains back to the U.S., and is responsible for notification of next of kin."

Uncle Sam will provide office space, supplies and e-mail service, along with living space, health care and dining facilities for the firm's employees.

MORRIS VS. MOORE

Former Clinton aide Dick Morris will take center stage at the National Press Club on Thursday to help launch "FahrenHype 9/11," a patriotic version of the controversial film "Fahrenheit 9/11" produced by liberal activist Michael Moore.

"The producers of 'FahrenHype 9/11' decided to make a film that challenges Moore's assertions and gives the viewer a true, nonpartisan look at the war in Iraq and the very real dangers we face in a post-9/11 world," a film insider tells The Beltway Beat.

"The film also examines the explosive charge that France, one of the countries leading the charge against the war in the United Nations, was to receive drilling rights in some of Iraq's oil fields if the situation could be resolved peacefully," he says.

The film also provides a voice to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, whom Moore chose to ignore.

BENNETT BOUNCE

Former education secretary and best-selling author Bill Bennett has talked his way into a successful new broadcast career. We're told his talk-radio show, "Morning in America," has just been signed by its 100th station, making it the nation's fastest-growing morning program.

The show airs for three hours each morning on top radio stations in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Atlanta, among other markets, including XM Satellite Radio at Channel 166.

DEMOCRATIC TWIST

A group calling itself "Democrats for Lisa Marie" held a fund-raiser aboard a Potomac River boat Sunday, throwing their support behind Republican congressional candidate Lisa Marie Cheney in her bid to unseat seven-term Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat.

"Basically, we are a group of disgruntled Democrats who are no longer willing to support Jim Moran," said Jonathan Marks, the group's organizer. Cheney is not related to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"By no means are we abandoning the Democratic Party," he said of the 50 or so attendees. "We are simply following our good consciences by withdrawing our support for Jim Moran. His public record of reckless behavior is not only an embarrassment to the voters in Virginia's 8th Congressional District, it is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party. That is why the Democratic House leadership stripped him of his leadership post."

Most recently, Moran stated: "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."

He added that "the leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."

BUSH SUPPORTERS

"Most uneventful bus ride," reads the official White House pool report surrounding President Bush's campaign swing through Minnesota. "Only notes of interest along way were the smiling guys waving outside Jake's Exotic Dancers, just outside St. Paul."

RATHER EMBARRASSING

The truth of the matter, of course, is
We rely on anonymous sources,
On political hacks,
Certifiable quacks,
And extraterrestrial forces."

- F.R. Duplantier

BUSH STUNTS

Former President George H.W. Bush is living proof why the Federal Aviation Administration rule requiring pilots to retire on their 60th birthday is outdated and should be scrapped.

"Just look at our 41st president, George Bush," Capt. Joseph "Ike" Eichelkraut, president of the Southwest Airline Pilots' Association, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "At 80 years young, he not only wants to fly in airplanes, he's jumping out of them."

Sen. Larry Craig, Idaho Republican, who chaired the hearing on mandatory retirement policies, agrees that the age restriction was arbitrary and based on "medical facts" of a previous era.

"The mandatory retirement rules for pilots were established in 1959 - 45 years ago," he said, noting that Americans are now living healthier and, subsequently, longer lives.

SOPHIA'S POSTER

Three-year-old Sophia Parlock has a new Bush-Cheney campaign poster, courtesy of President Bush himself.

Sophia became famous Thursday when Associated Press photographer Randy Snyder captured a shot of the toddler crying after her Bush-Cheney sign was torn to pieces at a Huntington, W.Va., rally for Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards.

Sophia's father, Republican activist Phil Parlock, charges that Edwards' supporters "pounced" on him and two of his children, equating it to a "feeding frenzy."

The photo of Sophia crying made her a cause celebre in newspapers around the country. Parlock said on Friday that he'd already given more than 20 interviews.

U.S. News & World Report writer Paul Bedard was the first to report Friday that the White House sent Sophia a new poster, with a personal inscription from the president: "Dear Sophia, Thank you for supporting my campaign. I understand someone tore up your sign. So I am sending you a new sign and a signed picture."

HUMMER RIDES

The LUKE Foundation in Prince George's County says it will provide limousine service to and from the polls on Election Day, Nov. 2, to help those who "felt disenfranchised" after the 2000 presidential election.

Voters in historically low-turnout areas of the county will be chauffeured to the polls in "Hummers and other luxury limousines."

Says the foundation's president, Charles G. Davis: "It does not matter which candidate you vote for, but in order to be acknowledged in our system, you must vote."

IT'S TRUST, DUMMY

John Kerry's "informal" adviser James Carville concedes in his latest political memo of President Bush's re-election chances: "His lead is real, and there is no doubt that Kerry has lost ground on a range of issues."

Still, Carville insists in his Democracy Corps missive that the 2004 presidential election not only remains close and competitive, voters "still want change. They are upset with Bush's direction on Iraq and the economy, and have serious doubts about him."

Les T. Csorba, a former senior White House adviser to Bush, disagrees such doubt exists: "To borrow a Carvillian turn of phrase: 'It's trust, stupid.'"

"The election of 2004 remains a battle for trust," he explains further. "While pundits point to the president's recent ascendancy as the front-runner, they note how much he has widened the gap of who is perceived to be the more resilient commander in chief and who can better wage the war on terror."

Bush "knows that as his trust goes, so goes the election," adds Csorba, who is author of the new book "Trust: The One Thing That Makes or Breaks a Leader."

NO EGGS TO FIRE

What do you do if you are the owner of a tiny sandwich shop and the president of the United States drops in for lunch and orders something that's not on the menu?

Angel Howell experienced that unsettling feeling the other day when President Bush paid a visit to her Brick House Deli on Main Street in Anoka, Minn. The president ordered an egg-salad sandwich.

"Fire one up," Bush said.

"Unfortunately," records the official White House pool report, "that was not among the selections offered on the menu, as displayed on plates on the wall behind the counter. He was told he could have tuna salad or chicken salad, and he chose the chicken salad sandwich, which he complemented with a bag of Doritos and a Diet Coke."

Words of the week

"It's less than a 1 percent reduction - only 729 words - but it's a good first step."

- Alan Korwin, author of "Gun Laws of America," celebrating the fact that for the first time in years a federal gun law (a ban on certain "military-style assault weapons") has come off the books. Since the Gun Control Act in 1968, 74,426 words of gun law have been added by Congress.

ROTUNDA RITES

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and former senior adviser to President Clinton, has proposed that a Troop Memorial be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda recognizing U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We haven't heard back from Hastert's office yet," Cecelia J. Prewett, the congressman's communications director, says of a proposal Emanuel sent to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. "Outside our office here in Longworth, we've set up a display similar to what can be done in the Rotunda."

The congressman says the memorial would be a fitting tribute to the fallen troops and their families, pointing out that "throughout its history the Rotunda has been used for public viewing of our fallen heroes, bestowing upon them one of our nation's highest honors."

SECOND TERM?

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was meeting with editors of The Washington Times yesterday when he mentioned an annual review of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia and said "we'll measure to see if there has been progress or not."

Foreign editor David Jones saw an opening: "You just implied you'll be here next year - are you contemplating a second term? There have been reports to that effect."

"Oh, God," Mr. Powell said, and jokingly turned to an assistant: "I thought I told you, Emily, to call over and tell them . . . ." The secretary then recited his standard response to such inquiries: "I serve at the pleasure of the president."

The next question: "If the president is re-elected and asks you to serve again, will you serve again?"

"Ah . . .. come on," Powell said, his future in a possible second Bush term having been the subject of rampant speculation.

"I don't have a term, as I have to remind people," he said, but added: "That doesn't usually get me out of the question."