John McCaslin

Dialogue between Republican Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Todd Akin of Missouri.

Mr. Broun: "President Obama has promised the American people that he would veto any bill that had earmarks in it. I call upon the president to veto this [economic stimulus] bill that we passed today. It has over 9,000 earmarks in it."

Mr. Akin: "I heard it was 7,500 earmarks."

Mr. Broun: "Well, whatever."

Mr. Akin: "He said if it has earmarks in it he's going to veto it, but what do you think [he'll] say - that those really aren't earmarks? Those things that look like earmarks and that smell like earmarks aren't earmarks? Is that what we're going to hear?"


The nation's economic crisis aside, President Obama has the entire planet to worry about.

Perhaps Francis Ford Coppola's epic story "The Godfather" will provide clues to the challenges the new president faces when it comes to foreign policy.

"The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable," due out next month, and co-authored by John C. Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell (the latter co-founder of the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington), recalls New York crime family boss Don Vito Corleone being gunned down in broad daylight, leaving sons Sonny and Michael, and adopted son Tom Hagen, to chart a new course for the family.

The aging and wounded don, explains one summary, is emblematic of Cold War American power on the decline in a new world where U.S. enemies play by unfamiliar rules. The don's heirs, meanwhile, uncannily exemplify the three leading schools of U.S. foreign policy today.

Tom, the left-of-center liberal institutionalist, thinks the old rules still apply and negotiations are the answer. Sonny is the Bush-era neocon: shoot first, ask questions later, while providing an easy target for your enemies. Only Michael, the realist, detects the changing scene, recognizing the need for flexible combinations of soft and hard power to keep the family strong and maintain its influence and security in a dangerous and rapidly changing world.


Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, has been appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Joining him are Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, and Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, albeit the latter has just announced he's giving up his House seat to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond.


So, President and Mrs. Obama have decided on a Portuguese Water Dog, the yet-named "first pooch" due to arrive at the White House once daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, return from their spring holiday.

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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