John McCaslin

Who in the National Cathedral's pews, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton included, wasn't stirred by Wednesday's National Prayer Service rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Wintley Augustus Phipps?

The Trinidad and Tobago native, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, has performed at one function or another for every modern U.S. president since Jimmy Carter.

RECESS FOR MOLLY

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't take kindly to members of Congress missing crucial floor votes. But if anybody had a good excuse to be absent from the House in recent days it was Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat.

“Madam Speaker,” explained the 54-year-old congressman, “yesterday I was unable to make a number of votes because I was at the hospital with my wife for the delivery of our first child. I am pleased to announce that we had a healthy, beautiful baby girl named Molly Hannah.”

When she learns how to read, young Molly will learn that one vote her dad was unable to cast would have been a “yea” in support of H.R. 2, the bill to improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, of which he was an original co-sponsor.

THREADS THEY WEAVE

Given the historic inauguration this week of Barack Obama, Political Base Managing Editor Mark Nickolas has us wondering whether it's worth listening to the endless drivel of political pundits who appear round-the-clock on the cable TV news channels.

“Pundits Who Had Not A Clue Two Years Ago,” is headline of his posting, and while we don't have space for all the pontifications certainly among the most controversial (given Mr. Obama is now firmly seated in the Oval Office) is compliments of CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield:

“Ask yourself, is there any other major public figure who dresses the way [Mr. Obama] does? Why, yes. It is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, unlike most of his predecessors, seems to have skipped through enough copies of 'GQ' to find the jacket-and-no-tie look agreeable. And maybe that's not the comparison a possible presidential contender really wants to evoke ...

“Now, it is one thing to have a last name that sounds like Osama and a middle name, Hussein, that is probably less than helpful. But an outfit that reminds people of a charter member of the axis of evil, why, this could leave his presidential hopes hanging by a thread. Or is that threads?”

HISTORIC FIRST

Patrick Donohue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and new president of the National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan, says he sent President Obama his first official letter - arriving at the White House at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday, one minute after Mr. Obama officially became the commander in chief.

“It is very appropriate that the first letter sent to our nation's new president addresses one of the most critical issues facing his new administration: catastrophic health care reform,” said Mr. Donohue, whose 3-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, was violently shaken when she was five days old and sustained massive brain injury.

His mission now is to help all children with such acquired brain injury, called the No. 1 killer and disabler of more than 3 million children in the United States every year.

JABBERWOCKY

Listeners of News Talk 630-WMAL flooded the Washington radio station with requests for an encore Wednesday after morning co-host Andy Parks suggested that President Obama's handpicked Inauguration Day poet, Elizabeth Alexander, scribbled her 14 unrhymed, three-line “Presidential Inauguration” stanzas while riding in her limo to the swearing-in.


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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