John McCaslin

 It's apparently not too early to audition for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential inauguration - at least as far as the organizer for the "Obama Inaugural Glee Club" is concerned.

The Illinois senator's official 2008 presidential campaign Web site says the tryout schedule to join the glee club is soon to be announced. Auditions will be hosted by Sharon McSweeney of Charlottesville, Va., who plans to enlist four singers from each of the 50 states "in our beautiful union."

One fewer fan

Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten knew Tim Russert "not as well as everyone else in this city, but as little as I knew him, I felt like we were great friends."

In an interview with Inside the Beltway on Monday in his new Nationals Park office overlooking the Anacostia River, Mr. Kasten said, "I gather that's how he made everyone feel."

When former chief NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw interrupted his network's regularly scheduled programming last Friday to inform the nation of his colleague's sudden passing, he closed by pointing out that Mr. Russert was a major sports enthusiast, including a huge fan of the fledgling Washington Nationals baseball team.

"I think the [Buffalo] Bills got higher billing than we did, but we're still proud to be on that list," Mr. Kasten said. "It was great looking over there seeing he and James Carville at a game, seated next to Bob Schieffer, right across the aisle, because that's the kind of friendship he had with everyone, even with competitors.

"And when we were starting to go to market with our stadium last summer, we went to Tim and said would you 'voice over' the pitch in this new ballpark? He couldn't say 'yes' fast enough. He was just a great guy, a great fan, and like everyone else we certainly miss him."

Shrunken shoes

On the heels of Scott McClellan's blistering denunciation of the Bush administration, which he once served as spokesman, comes conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan's most unflattering assessment of George W. Bush beneath the headline, "The Incredible Shrinking President." Writing in Monday's edition of the American Conservative, of which he is a founding editor, Mr. Buchanan says the "synchronized savagery of the attacks on McClellan as turncoat suggests he drew blood," and now in its wake events "suggest that history is passing Bush by."

"The world seems to be waiting for Bush to depart and for the next American president," Mr. Buchanan notes. "It is hard to give the Bush foreign- policy passing grades. We pushed NATO eastward and alienated Russia. We have 140,000 Army and Marine Corps troops tied down in Iraq in a war now in its sixth year, from which our NATO allies have all extricated themselves. We have another war going in Afghanistan, where the situation is as grave as it has been since we went in."

And then this: "America remains the first economic and military power on earth. But after seven years of Bush, we no longer inspire the awe or hopes we once did. ... Of Bush, it may be said he was a far better politician and candidate than his father, but as a statesman and world leader, he could not carry the old man's loafers."

Don't try this

Speaking to the recent Chartered Financial Analysts Institute Conference here in Washington, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Christopher Cox recalled an incident that "reportedly really happened once at a well-known capital management firm."

A young analyst, he said, was walking by an office and saw an investment consultant hanging upside down from the ceiling, and "she asked, 'What are you doing? What if the boss walks by and sees you?' "

"The consultant told her, 'I need a few weeks off. So I'm pretending to be nuts.' And sure enough, just then the CEO walked by and saw the man dangling from the ceiling. Naturally, he looked up at him and said, 'What are you doing?'

"'I'm a light bulb,' answered the consultant. 'You're going crazy,' replied the CEO. 'Take a vacation.' The man jumped down to leave, but then the young analyst started to follow him out the door. 'Where do you think you're going, young lady?' the CEO asked. 'Home,' she replied. 'I can't very well work in the dark.' "


John McCaslin

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

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