Amnesty, stupid

John McCaslin
|
Posted: Jun 27, 2006 10:01 PM

Washington political pollster Frank Luntz, who in an earlier private memo told Congress that Americans are not only ready for an overhaul of illegal alien policy, "they are demanding it," is now warning members that the competing House and Senate solutions must contain one consensus: "No amnesty."

"Any Republican who votes for legislation on illegal immigration that walks, talks, looks or smells like amnesty will reap the wrath of a Republican electorate who see more and more reasons to stay home in November with each passing day," Luntz says in a memo we obtained. "For Republican members of the Senate and House there will be no election amnesty in November for a miscast vote now."

Reached Monday, Luntz told The Beltway Beat that the amnesty argument is significant "because it is stepping right in the middle of the House and Senate fight, which is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. . . . And since the Republicans control both houses, they are shooting themselves not in the foot, but in the head."

His research paper concludes "conclusively that any association with amnesty will turn the so-called Senate heroes of this summer into the martyrs of November."


POWER SPOT

Washington's "Power Spot Of The Year," as announced at the Rammy Restaurant Awards Gala on Sunday night at the Marriott Wardman Park: The Capital Grille (strategically situated between the White House and Capitol Hill on Pennsylvania Avenue).

HILLARY SUPPORTER

Virginia license plate spotted by Bryan Devereaux of Springfield: 08CLNTN.

TARNISHED IMAGES

Leon E. Panetta, who was President Clinton's chief of staff and is now director of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, says recent ethics scandals on Capitol Hill have taken a toll on college students' perceptions of elected members.

A paltry 31 percent find members honest and trustworthy, according to a nationwide survey of students. An overwhelming 71 percent, meanwhile, say they personally are not interested in running for national office.

"In a nation that depends on the desire of young people to become leaders and help govern our democracy, these poll results are a discouraging reminder that we are failing to inspire our youth to lives of public service," says Panetta. "The paradox is that while there are young men and women willing to fight and die to establish a democracy in Iraq, a growing majority . . . have little interest in participating in our democracy here at home."

WHO'S THE MASTER?

We saved an encounter with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's pair of Portuguese water dogs, Splash and Sunny, for a rainy day. Given this week's monsoon, here you go.

The two dogs were out for a walk one recent sunny day with one of Kennedy's aides, who led them to a grassy park near the Russell Senate Office Building. Enjoying their lunch at the park were two congressional reporters, who watched as the dogs caught scent of their sandwiches and bounded over for some offerings.

At which point Sunny "lies down and won't get up," one of the reporters tells this column. "The aide says this happens often. I don't know whether it's because the dog is old or stubborn or what. But try as he might, the aide cannot get the dog to stand up again.

"He's gently tugging the leash, calling to her, snapping, etc., to no avail. Finally, I suggest to the aide that he take a scrap of my sandwich and lure the dog to stand up. But he says he's not allowed to feed them anything other than their own food.

"I tell the aide that he doesn't have to feed her the sandwich, just lure her with it. So, he agrees that's a good plan, takes the sandwich scrap, and after a few minutes of waving it around and coaxing, the dog finally stands up. The aide hands me back the scrap, thanks me, and they went on their way."

FAST POLITICIANS

It turns out this year's ACLI (American Council of Life Insurers) 25th Anniversary Capital Challenge 3-miler raised a record $16,800-plus for Special Olympics DC.

Fastest senators by sex: Sen. John E. Sununu, New Hampshire Republican (20:10), and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican (38:58). Fastest representatives: Rep. Bart Gordon, Tennessee Democrat (18:05), and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (25:55), West Virginia Republican.

PASS THE KUGEL

Gen. Richard B. Myers, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, thinks highly enough of Jeffrey Ross that he will appear on stage in Georgetown this evening with the comedian-turned-filmmaker for an exclusive VIP screening of the film "Patriot Act."

"He's taken me all over the world," Ross tells The Beltway Beat of the retired Air Force general.

Inspired by USO perennial Bob Hope, Ross joined the likes of Drew Carey and other comedians who have traveled to Iraq to perform for U.S. troops. Except he thought it would be fun to bring along a camcorder to videotape candid moments and other interactions with the men and women in uniform.

Never in the comedian's wildest dreams, he says in an interview, did he expect the home video would become a documentary - or for that matter win the recent Best Feature Film award at the Montreal Comedy Festival.

"I made this video for my friends and I to watch together," he says of "Patriot Act." "The fact that regular Americans are now seeing it is unbelievable. Everybody who sees the movie will get what I got: a backstage pass to the world."

He adds: "And to think this was done with my own little camera, basically proving that any schmuck with a $600 video camera can be a film director."

Highlights of the movie range from his on- and offstage antics, to the comedian's hotel being struck by mortar fire, to him sitting on Saddam Hussein's throne at the former leader's birthday palace sharing a holiday meal with Jewish soldiers celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

MONEY AND ACCESS

Their close working relationship is nothing new. But what is new is the surfacing of e-mails that were exchanged between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist, the latter seeking donations for his tax-exempt group Americans for Tax Reform from the lobbyist's clients in exchange for face time with senior Bush White House officials.

One such July 2002 e-mail Norquist sent to Abramoff, obtained by the Associated Press from federal and congressional investigators, reads: "Can the tribes contribute $100,000 for the effort to bring state legislatures and those tribal leaders who have passed Bush resolutions to Washington?"

"When I have funding," Norquist continued, "I will ask (senior Bush adviser) Karl Rove for a date with the president. Karl has already said 'yes' in principle and knows you organized this last time and hope to this year."

PUT IT IN PRINT

We see where Alexandria has reached its limit with unwanted "free" newspapers being thrown onto sidewalks, lawns and driveways of the historic city, to the extent that it is weighing passage of a "do not deliver" ordinance.

The No. 1 violator, according to city officials, is the Washington Examiner.

Council member Paul Smedberg says 100-plus complaints received by City Hall about the newspaper are "only the tip of the iceberg."

"I have come home and found three copies of the Examiner on my lawn and more just thrown at the end of my street," he told a public hearing. "I know people who have called the circulation department repeatedly and asked that the paper not be delivered to their homes and there has been no response."

According to the Alexandria Times, another free newspaper that is mailed to residents, the Examiner's Chief Executive Officer Herb Maloney actually showed up at the hearing and pledged that delivery of all unwanted newspapers would now stop within 72 hours of a complaint.

At which point council member Rob Krupicka requested of the CEO: "I would like you to put all of these commitments in writing and send them to us."

THE FINE PRINT

President Bush on Friday signed an executive order to protect the private-property rights of the American people. Or did he?

"It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the federal government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public," the order reads.

But reading further down to the "Specific Exclusions" in Section 3, it states that nothing in the order prohibits the taking of private property by Uncle Sam for use by the public for roadways, parks, forests, governmental office buildings, military reservations, medical facilities, public transportation and public utilities.