Beltway Beat: Saluting Nancy

Posted: Jul 12, 2002 12:00 AM
Former first lady Nancy Reagan, one of a dozen distinguished Americans to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday, was feted that night at the Potomac home of Frederick J. Ryan Jr., chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation. And talk about a "who's who" on hand to salute Mrs. Reagan, who seldom leaves the side of her ailing husband, who is fighting Alzheimer's disease. Among a few of the faces spotted in the admiring crowd: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels, former Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Reagan White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding, former U.S. Information Agency chief Charlie Wick, former Nevada Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt, longtime presidential writer Hugh Sidey, banker and communications giant Joe L. Allbritton and, last but certainly not least, their better halves. DRILLING GRILLING A "confounded and disturbed" Bush administration is coming down hard on NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, a veteran Washington TV reporter who is the wife of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. "Over and over again, I repeated that we don't want new energy development off the coast of California and that the Bush administration wants to cooperate with the state to protect its coastline. Considering that I stated that policy at least a half a dozen times during my interview with NBC, I have to conclude the misrepresentation was intentional," Rejane "Johnnie" Burton, director of the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, wrote to Mitchell after the "NBC Nightly News" story in question aired this week. "Please look at the tape. Repeatedly, I said on camera that the Bush administration opposes new energy development off the coast of California," said Burton. "My staff told you the same thing. Instead of quoting me on that point you chose to show a snippet that reversed the meaning of the sentence from which it was excerpted." Mitchell began her report by stating: "California's spectacular coastline, home to rare wildlife and oil rigs. Since a disastrous oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, a huge political issue. Now the Bush administration supports drilling in 36 additional areas off those same shores." Burton told Mitchell her reporting was "dishonest" and "designed to make it look like I was saying the opposite of what I clearly stated over and over again." VOTING 101 Scant proof has been forthcoming, yet NAACP President Kweisi Mfume continues to draw attention to a "callous, deliberate and clearly unconstitutional effort to suppress" the black vote in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. Still, Mfume is the first to acknowledge that more blacks voted in Florida in 2000 than in any previous election. But even more blacks would have voted, the former Democratic congressman says, were it not for "racially driven purges of voter rolls, selective distribution of updated voting technology, poorly designed ballots (by a Democrat) and even police roadblocks." Apparently owing in part to the confusing ballots, blacks in Florida were 10 times more likely than whites to have their votes disqualified (and, come to think of it, more likely than certain other groups to unintentionally cast votes for conservative presidential candidate Pat Buchanan). As a result, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recently started a massive "voter education" program for blacks and other minorities in preparation for the mid-term elections this November. FARM FEAT Soon after passage of the $190 billion farm-subsidy bill, the House Agriculture Committee rushed out an "audacious defense" of the bill in the form of a glossy and full-color booklet titled "The Facts on U.S. Farm Policy," say the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven. This "propaganda piece" dispels seven supposed myths "of those who dared question the new law," they say. "Under Myth No. 5, the committee has the nerve to equate Ronald Reagan's victory over communism to enactment of the farm bill." Sure enough, the new farm bill is compared to President Reagan's policy of "Peace Through Strength that brought down communism." The rest of the piece is littered with pictures and quotes of famous Americans, from Thomas Jefferson to President John F. Kennedy, as if they endorsed such wasteful government spending. BORN IN THE U.S.A There was considerable reaction from around the country to our item this week on birthright citizenship and its related phenomenon that has been dubbed "anchor babies." The United States, we reported, grants automatic citizenship to babies "born" in this country to illegal aliens, temporary workers, even tourists. The babies can eventually "anchor" their extended families in the United States, thus precipitating an unlimited number of "chain immigrants" with the right to immigrate. In other words, a pregnant foreign national can request a U.S. visa to coincide with the birth of her child. She comes to the United States to visit Disneyland, her water breaks, and - presto! - an American is born. Of the dozens of readers to write, Bob Emmrich, of Cincinnati, might have the answer to the problem: "We could solve the 'anchor baby' problem with a simple re-wording of the 'Citizen Reform Act of 1999.' Grant citizenship to babies 'conceived' on U.S. soil," he explains. "This would eliminate all of the three- and six-month visa visitors, along with tourists." WORSE THAN ANTHRAX During a recent trip to Aspen, Colo., Elliot Gosko, a 14-year-old East Coast resident, bottled up some of that legendary Rocky Mountain spring water, according to an article in the Trout Wrapper, the leading newspaper in Pony, Mont. "His plan was to take it to his school and analyze the stuff, thus earning extra credit in biology class," writes editor and publisher Ron W. Marr. "Upon preparing to board his flight, however, Elliot was stopped by airline security guards and made to drink the creek swill. He was told that such was part of the 'homeland security' measures being instituted at most airports around the country. "Elliot, of course, contracted giardia from the impure water."