Go ahead, caller

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jul 18, 2006 5:01 PM

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger made a surprise appearance Monday on C-SPAN, weighing in on the precarious state of world affairs during the open-phone segment of “Washington Journal.”

“You’re on the air. Go ahead, Republican,” said the program host.

“Yes, I was in the first Bush administration . . .”

“Is that Lawrence Eagleburger?” the surprised host asked.

“Yes, sir. I’d like to make three quick comments,” Eagleburger continued.

One of the comments was to caution those who are quick to criticize the Israeli military response in Lebanon. Eagleburger said Israel is “surrounded by states who say they want to destroy” it.

And he warned that if the United States and its allies “don’t do something about Iran and its building of nuclear weapons, and North Korea and its building of nuclear weapons, there’s going to come a time about 10 years from now when Americans are going to look back and say, ‘What in the devil were we doing sitting there watching this develop?’”

As soon as the former secretary hung up the phone, the C-SPAN host stated for the record: “That was not set up. He called on his own.”

FIGHTING WORDS

“To all the Republicans who sit in their air-conditioned offices and talk of the courage it takes for them to keep young kids in harm’s way, I say enough. (And White House aide) Karl Rove talking about ‘cutting and running’ while he sits on his big, fat backside saying ‘stay the course,’ I say enough. That’s not a plan.” — Or so Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, wrote in a Democratic Party fund-raising letter this week.

PASS THE WORM

Building a massive fence along the U.S.-Mexican border will be the subject of a hearing Thursday in the House, which passed a bill last year calling for the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the porous border.

President Bush, who once said better fences make bitter neighbors, came around this spring to say he would support 370 miles of fencing, but no more.

“We don’t think you fence off the entire border,” White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

Meanwhile, we learned Monday that as more and more Mexicans — illegal or otherwise — continue to flood into the United States, the demand for indigenous Mexican food and beverages is increasing to the point that it has become a “booming” industry, both for suppliers in Mexico and distributors in this country.

According to the firm Market Research, the Mexican food industry in the United States is estimated at $52 billion and growing, with seven in 10 surveyed households using Mexican food and ingredients.

SUPPORTING J.D.

One of the biggest proponents of fencing out illegal aliens is Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, who reported yesterday that his re-election campaign war chest has surpassed $1 million in contributions.

Hayworth says his state and constituents are tired of being “ground zero” in the illegal-alien crisis. In Arizona, he says, there are 6,000 to 6,500 attempted border crossings every night, of which 4,000 to 4,500 are successful.

The congressman was driven to write a book on illegal border crossing, which he presented earlier this year to President Bush after his visit to the state. It proposes not only building a massive fence along the border, but also halting the U.S. practice of granting citizenship to American-born children of illegal aliens.

JUMPING SHIP

The number of black Republican candidates seeking major national or statewide offices in the United States in 2006, according to the National Black Republican Association: 43.

WISE GUY

Out for a stroll in Old Town Alexandria over the weekend, this columnist encountered a Cunningham Funeral Home director as he was washing a hearse in the driveway.

“How’s business been?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Dead,” he replied, without missing a beat.

CALL TO ARMS

When it comes to combating our crime epidemic, the nation’s capital might learn something from the state of Florida, where it’s just been reported that the crime rate has dropped for the 14th straight year, to its lowest mark since 1971.

“This report shows that staying tough on crime works,” Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told the Associated Press. “Law-abiding citizens that have guns for protection actually probably are part of the reason we have a lower crime rate.”

RUDY RUN?

As for one politician whose popularity skyrocketed after he got tough on crime, we are told this week that former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani most likely will enter the 2008 Republican presidential sweepstakes.

“At this stage, it’s more likely that he will run than not,” a top adviser to Giuliani tells The Beltway Beat.

GOD TURNS 50

It made little news given all the week’s turmoil, but the Senate has just agreed to a resolution reaffirming the 50th anniversary of the formal adoption of the national motto of the United States — “In God We Trust.”

This week’s approval reaffirms, in writing, that “from the colonial beginnings of the United States, citizens of the nation have officially acknowledged their dependence on God.”

It was on July 30, 1956, that President Eisenhower signed a congressional resolution passed by the 84th Congress making “In God We Trust” the official motto of the United States.

‘DIRECTOR OF IRONY’

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, is questioning why President Bush has surrounded himself with two highly paid ethics advisers and a director of fact checking.

“We actually have a ‘director of lessons learned’ at the White House, who is paid over $100,000,” says the congressman, a former aide to President Clinton, who considers rephrasing the White House title.

“They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the president,” Emanuel mused recently on the House floor. “Maybe the White House can consolidate these positions into a ‘director of irony.’”

TWO NATIONS

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan is calling attention to an escalating culture war in America where traditionalists are now “seceding from institutions, communities, even cities where counterculture is in power.”

“Falling attendance at movie theaters, home-schooling of kids, right-wing talk-radio and TV, Christian schools, the religious divide at the ballot box, all testify that, on issues of morality, we have become two peoples and two nations.

“We do not even talk to each other. We shout at each other,” Buchanan notes in his American Conservative magazine.