Dog Not Included

John McCaslin

12/5/2008 11:52:36 AM - John McCaslin

"Fantastic Find for Inauguration," reads Thursday's ad posted on Craigslist, offering three bedrooms on the top two floors a rowhouse on Capitol Hill for $12,000.

"Located 8 blocks from the Capitol Building," the ad states. "There is a dog that lives in this house, which will not be present during your stay."

CHISEL TYLER

Thought you knew the nation's best and worst U.S. presidents?

Of the four presidents exalted glory on Mount Rushmore, only George Washington deserves the honor, writes Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute, whose intriguing new book is appropriately titled, "Recarving Rushmore."

The author argues that Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was overrated by historians and scholars; Thomas Jefferson hypocritically violated his lofty rhetoric of liberty; and Abraham Lincoln provoked a civil war that achieved far less than believed.

Mr. Eland's book profiles and ranks every U.S. president on the merits, including his oath to uphold the Constitution. Surprisingly, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter are anointed the two best modern presidents, and Bill Clinton is declared in some respects more conservative than George W. Bush.

It might come as a surprise that John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, earns the No. 1 ranking of all commanders in chief. Tyler, we read, exhibited "restraint in dealing with an internal rebellion, a bloody Indian war, and a boundary dispute with Canada. He supported a sound policy of limiting the money supply, and he generally opposed high tariffs, a national bank and federal welfare to the states.

"In sum, John Tyler gets the number one ranking here not only because he favored limited government, but because he fought members of his own party (Whig and Democrat) to preserve it - thereby torpedoing his chances for a second term."

As for the worst president (President Bush, if you wondered, ranks 36th), Woodrow Wilson's "abominable track record" earns him the bottom ranking of 40th. (William Henry Harrison and James Garfield weren't ranked because of the short amount of time they were in office).

LETTER OF THE WEEK

Liz Perraud of Columbia, Md., writes: "After reading your entry 'No Comment' from Inside the Beltway on Wednesday in reference to the runaway costs for the completion of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), I thought you might like to take a look at this letter that my grandfather, David Lynn, received from Charles E. Hughes, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

"The letter was sent upon completion of the Supreme Court building in June of 1939. My grandfather was the Architect of the Capitol who oversaw the project (among many other projects for the federal government). Please note that he came under budget allowing an 'unexpended balance to be returned to the Treasury.' Where can we find public servants like that today?"

Chief Justice Hughes wrote to Mr. Lynn: "I have esteemed it a high privilege to be associated with ... your ability and marked efficiency in handling the many problems of administration to the end that the public interest should at all times be adequately safeguarded."

Whereas Mr. Lynn returned money to the U.S. Treasury, the newly opened CVC, which was projected in the early 1990s to cost $71 million upon completion, carried a final price tag of $621 million and was three years behind schedule.

Reacted Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: "I've never seen a bigger boondoggle in my life. It's like they're playing with Monopoly money."

PRESSURE MOUNTS

"After one of the briefest honeymoons in history, developing nations at U.N. climate change talks in Poland are saying that President-elect Barack Obama's goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions don't go far enough."

- Reuters, Dec. 3, 2008