Going Home

John McCaslin
|
Posted: Nov 09, 2007 8:53 AM
Going Home

One thing is for certain about the post-presidency of George W. Bush: "Under no circumstances" will first lady Laura Bush spend her retirement years living at the much-ballyhooed Texas ranch that she and the president have been "escaping" to for the past seven years.

Or so one gentleman in the know tells Inside the Beltway, explaining that the Bush family will settle down in Dallas and visit the Crawford ranch for weekend getaways.

Once writing about the ranch in the publication Cowboys & Indians, Eric O'Keefe recalled that, in 1999, when Gov. Bush gave architect David Heymann a list of design priorities for the new ranch house, his "top three requests were anything but extravagant: a king-sized bed, a good shower and some comfortable chairs on the porch."

The new Bush home, our source assures us, will be far more extravagant and certainly less dusty. In fact, Mrs. Bush yesterday commented three times in one sentence about the infamous Texas dust during a visit to Amarillo and Midland, both in western Texas.

Texans, meanwhile, are said to be following what Ken Herman of the Austin American-Statesman describes as Mr. Bush's "last roundup," "final rodeo," "last stampede," to gauge what impact his low approval ratings might have on the image of Texas.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson complained that Mr. Bush "has fed into that sort of image of Texas as shooting from the hip and proceeding on the basis of your own sense rather than consulting more broadly and looking for common ground."

But that's a good thing, countered Rep. Michael McCaul, Austin Republican, who told Mr. Herman that "Texans have a way of talking straight and sticking to our guns, and I don't think anyone can argue that the president, for better or worse, hasn't done that."

Furthermore, he argued, no lone person — not even a president — defines the Lone Star State.

Take Harry S. Truman, who left office with the lowest approval rating of any modern president, which "did not impact the way the nation or world viewed Missouri," the lawmaker said.

Buckles, et al.

The last living veteran of World War I to serve in Europe, Frank Woodruff Buckles — one of only three living World War I veterans in the U.S. — has arrived in Washington for the American Veteran Center's 10th annual conference at the Renaissance Washington Hotel.

The 106-year-old Mr. Buckles, who can still drive his tractor around his 330-acre farm in Charles Town, W.Va., enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917, when he was only 16 years old. He claimed that birth certificates weren't issued in the Missouri town where he was born. He was sent to England and France, where he was assigned to the Army Ambulance Service. When the war ended, he helped escort German prisoners back home.

During World War II, he fared much worse, captured by the Japanese while working for an American shipping interest in the Philippines. He was imprisoned for nearly four years, and was finally freed with 2,147 other prisoners during a daring raid by the 11th Airborne Division.

The annual gathering of decorated military combat veterans, said to be among the largest in the country, also is saluting several of the greatest heroes of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tough snorting

The Drug Enforcement Administration says our nation's capital is one of several major cities across the country experiencing a "cocaine shortage."

The announcement singling out Washington was made yesterday from Bogota, Colombia, where DEA Administrator Karen Tandy and John Walters, director of national drug control policy, joined high-level Colombian and Mexican officials to release an analysis showing a disruption of the cocaine market in the U.S.

It so happens the average price per pure gram of cocaine in the U.S. has increased by 44 percent between January and September. The average price per pure gram of cocaine now is $136.93, compared with $95.35 in January. The increase in price has been accompanied by a 15 percent reduction in the average purity of cocaine.

'Perfect storm'

Speaking of rising costs: What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California won't tell you, Republican Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio will. And it ain't good.

He warns Americans of a pending "blizzard" of skyrocketing energy costs this winter, and, not surprisingly, he's blaming Democrats for having obstructed energy production efforts over the past several decades. Now, energy shortages and rising costs are "converging to form a perfect storm of financial devastation for American families."