John McCaslin

Playwright and television journalist Janet Langhart Cohen, wife of former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, confirms that she is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president.

As for Mr. Cohen, a former moderate Republican senator from Maine who was appointed by Democratic President Clinton to head the Pentagon, Inside the Beltway is told that he "remains neutral."

Timely forum

Speaking of William S. Cohen and Janet Langhart Cohen, the interracial couple will host their third Dialogue on Race and Reconciliation in the District in July.

The first such forum on race, religion and tolerance was held in Israel in January, bringing together Israeli and Arab college students, and the second took place last month in Boston after the American premiere of Mrs. Cohen's one-act play, "Anne and Emmett."

The performance consists of a fictional conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, teenagers who were murdered, one because she was Jewish, and the other because he was black.

Mrs. Cohen says given the current national political scene, the upcoming forum is both timely and necessary.

"We want to heighten awareness and focus attention on tolerance and reconciliation," she said. "We as Americans can become the world's teacher on pluralism, diversity, tolerance and inclusion."

Dating himself

That was Chris Matthews delivering the recent commencement address to graduates of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, saying, "I'm not dumb enough to try" to predict who will win the 2008 presidential election.

However, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" spoke highly of all three leading presidential contenders, calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "one of the gutsiest politicians I have ever seen."

"Life is different than school," Mr. Matthews concluded. "Here's my big advice, and it comes from experience. It comes down to a single word — a single action word — 'ask.' A-S-K, exclamation point.

"If you want something, you've got to go out and ask for it," he explained. "It's about getting where you want to get ... It's sort of like dating. Isn't it? You 'hook up' now, right? Nobody dates anymore."

Kaine poll

While we're handing out diplomas, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was the commencement speaker Sunday at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and if audience response was any indication when Mr. Kaine brought up Sens. John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the latter is the preferred candidate.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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