Separated at birth

John McCaslin
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Posted: Feb 14, 2006 9:05 PM

Anybody who's ever bumped into 60 Plus Association President Jim Martin, a longtime Republican activist and personal friend of George W. Bush, knows he bears a striking resemblance to CNN founder Ted Turner.

Even a reporter or two over the years mistakenly has written that the left-leaning Turner, for whatever odd reason this time, was spotted among a crowd of GOP bigwigs.

The other day, Martin showed up at the White House for a briefing with senior Bush aide Karl Rove. As sometimes happens, guards minding the gate didn't get advance notice of Martin's impending arrival. It was while he was standing off to the side awaiting access that an unidentified woman politely approached Martin and asked perchance if he was the real Ted Turner.

Without missing a beat, Martin replied: "Yeah, lady, why do you think I can't get into this joint."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I'm still very much alive." - Embattled former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, addressing a friendly crowd over the weekend in Washington.

ROOM FOR IRAN

On second thought, says U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, there is room in the world for Iran's nuclear-weapons program - albeit it's where Libya has agreed to store its secret nuclear materials: the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge is mainly off-limits, although President Bush once toured the storage facility to inspect its large stash of deadly material - including uranium surrendered by Libya two years ago.

KEENE ON ALGERIA

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, will manage a $300,000 contract to improve the image of the North Africa Muslim state of Algeria.

A one-time adviser to Republican presidential campaigns, Keene is managing associate of the Carmen Group, which got the contract. He's also a contributing writer to the Hill newspaper, which covers congressional proceedings.

The contract states that Keene will work with Congress to create an "Algerian Caucus," asks him to be available for "regular telephone consultation" with Algeria's ambassador to the U.S., and has him traveling to Algeria when requested - "business class," of course, with hotel accommodations fitting for "high government officials and dignitaries."

BOOMER ITCH

Most first-time authors are excited for their moms and dads to read their just-completed books. Not Brooke Lea Foster, a staff writer for Washingtonian magazine.

"I put off giving the book to my parents," she tells The Beltway Beat. "I finally mailed my mother a copy of the book a few weeks ago. Then I held my breath."

And for good reason. Consider the title of the book now hitting bookstores: "The Way They Were: Dealing With Your Parents' Divorce After A Lifetime of Marriage" (Ed. note: The book is also available from Amazon.com for 32% off the shelf price).

"She e-mailed me and said she read the book three times and each time she cried for a different reason," says Foster, who provides readers intimate details of her parents' divorce and its impact on her as an adult. "At first, she felt defensive. By the third time, she was crying for me and how much I went through."

The divorce rate among aging baby boomers, if you didn't notice, is soaring - although years beyond the traditional seven-year itch.

"(T)he twenty-five-year itch is a growing trend among baby boomers," writes Foster, who discovered 20 percent of today's divorces occur among couples married more than 15 years. And get this: the percentage of Americans aged 65 or older who were divorced or separated jumped a whopping 34 percent from 1990 to 2000.

The author hopes this first-of-its-kind book on how a divorce affects grown children will give an often-overlooked group of grievers "a name."

"We are the lost-nest generation: adult kids who age out of the house only to see our parents decide they've grown apart," says Foster, a 2005 finalist for the Livingston Award, the highest honor given to a journalist under the age of 35. "We go home to new places where we cannot find the silverware. Our nests are dismantled, blown apart by an unexpected gale."

A FEW GOOD MEN

Richard Sargeant Hodgson, a former Marine Corps press officer who was posted at ground zero during four major atomic bomb testings, including Bikini Atoll in 1946 and Nevada in 1951, died recently of myelodysplasia, a rare bone-marrow disease linked to excessive radiation.

At Nevada's 21-kiloton "Operation Buster," it was the voice of Hodgson, the radio-television chief at Marine Corps Headquarters, that broadcast the first nuclear field exercise conducted on land involving U.S. troops. Earlier, in the South Pacific, he sailed through contaminated air and water to inspect radioactive test ships.

One of life's amazing coincidences brought 80-year-old Hodgson and this columnist together just under a year ago. He traveled to Washington from his 18th-century farmhouse in Chester County, Pa., where he was receiving blood transfusions almost weekly.

Accompanied by his wife of 54 years, Lois, and his daughter, Sue Rolfing, we agreed to meet for brunch. And for reasons that will become apparent, I brought along as my guest Maria O'Leary, widow of legendary Washington newspaperman Jeremiah A. O'Leary, my close friend and colleague, who died in 1993.

I first met Mrs. Rolfing in Montana 26 years ago, interviewing her and her husband, Steve, at the kick-off for the Great Northern Llama Co., America's oldest llama outfitter and guide service. Today, their 200-acre Great Northern Ranch in the shadow of Glacier National Park supplies llamas and alpacas to the country's top breeders.

It so happened that for Christmas 2004, Mrs. Rolfing had given her father a copy of my new book, "Inside the Beltway," its chapters segueing from the wilds of Montana into the hallowed halls of Congress. But it was the chapter recalling the extraordinary career of Mr. O'Leary that caught Mr. Hodgson's eye.

After all, he couldn't wait to tell his daughter that the two were Marine buddies during World War II and Korea, including stints as combat correspondents. (Both retired decades later as officers in the Reserves.) As life would have it, one of the last times he'd seen Mr. O'Leary was in 1952 at the Hodgsons' wedding.

Mr. Hodgson and Mrs. O'Leary never knew each other - that is, until brunch last March 19. He brought to the table a thick folder of wartime memories, including one particular photograph he'd snapped more than a half-century earlier of Mr. O'Leary, clad in his military uniform, flashing his contagious smile.

Mr. Hodgson greatly impressed his native Minnesota community by becoming district manager of a national publishing company at age 12, rising to become one of the world's foremost authorities on catalogs and marketing. An author of more than a dozen books, multimedia programs he created are curricula today at more than 200 colleges and universities. His 1,500-page Direct Mail & Mail Order Handbook remains a top reference guide for the industry.

He was once president of American Marketing Services, graphics director of printing giant R.R. Donnelley & Sons, creative director of the Franklin Mint, and, until shortly before his death, the founder and president of the marketing firm Sargeant House.

(Ed. note: You may purchase Mr. McCaslin's new book from Amazon.com for only $15.74.)

HANG YOUR HEAD

Comedian Brad Stine has found himself a niche. Not that it took much effort. He is his niche.

"I'm probably one of only two conservative comedians in the country," he told The Beltway Beat after a Friday night performance at the Omni Shoreham, the crowd including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (if anybody in the country was in need of a good laugh, it was the embattled Republican), National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre, and ABC newsman Sam Donaldson.

The thrust of the comedian's routine: "Liberals have created a nation of wusses."

"In the South, there's none of this politically correct nonsense like, 'Don't shoot the animals,'" he says. "These people see a bunny, and they say, 'Shoot it, eat it and make a hat out of the rest.'"

And never discard an animal's head: "Hang it on the wall," he shouts.

"The cool thing about being a comic is you get a pass," Stine explained later. "It is accepted by the audience that you are a modern-day jester, so you can say the truth and nobody cuts your head off."

His thought-provoking "rant," as he calls it, compares the America he grew up in to today's, now that the "baby-soft hands" of the politically correct crowd have inflicted "self-esteem" and dangerously "oversanitized" our children.

Take the anti-bacterial wipe used by a soccer mom today to cleanse a skinned knee, and compare it to what his mother used: "A tissue that she spit into."

"God's way of healing," he calls it.

Stine has a new book to be released next month, "Live From Middle America: Rants From A Red-State Comedian." (Ed. note: You may pre-order "Live from Middle America" now at Amazon.com for only $13.57.)