Beltway Beat: War story

John McCaslin
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Posted: Aug 09, 2002 12:00 AM
Word that Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle landed a $500,000 book advance to reflect on his two "turbulent" years as majority leader has led a few helpful Senate Republican aides to develop some appropriate chapter titles: Chapter One: Constant Disappointment Can Get You Down; Chapter Two: 12 Senate Democrats Between Me and My Tax Increase; Chapter Three: I'll Have Syrup on My War Waffle; Chapter Four: Homeland Security in "The Byrd Cage"; and Chapter Five: Class Warfare is a Positive Agenda. PRETTIER RIDE In seeking the Kentucky governor's office, Democrat Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and his wife, former Miss America Heather French, are seemingly following the path of another governor and first lady who was a former Miss America - John Y. Brown and the famous Phyllis George. "A lot of people have been elected on a coattail, but he's the first candidate I ever saw, instead of riding in on a coattail, he's riding in on a petticoat tail," joked former Republican Gov. Louie Nunn, speaking at the 122nd annual Fancy Farm Picnic on behalf of his son, State Rep. Steve Nunn, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. RICE RECIPE Our recent column item about George W. Bush, unlike past Republican presidents, being in the pivotal position to attract blacks into the conservative fold, drew considerable response. Political author Jeremy D. Mayer, we wrote, suggests in his upcoming book, "Running on Race," that the only hope for Bush to steal a sizable - and for him, much-needed - fraction of the black vote from Democrats in 2004 would be by running with a black vice presidential nominee, namely Colin L. Powell. "It seems to me, Colin Powell made it clear before he does not wish to be president or vice president," writes Jim Mowrey, of South Windsor, Conn. "If the GOP thinks they need a black on the ticket in 2004, who better than National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice? Miss Rice is eminently qualified, and her candidacy would also help win the female vote." Dr. David P. Schwarz, of Picayune, Miss., adds: "I think Condoleezza Rice is the better choice for vice president in 2004. Not only is she brilliant and knowledgeable, but, being a lady, kills two birds with one stone. I would not hesitate to vote for her as president in 2008, unless she has some truly awful secret that has not been dredged up by the opposition." Her fans say this is highly doubtful, doctor, given Rice's background: senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; provost of Stanford University; nuclear strategic planner for the Joint Chiefs of Staff; director of Soviet and East European affairs at the White House National Security Council; White House policy director for democratic reform in Poland and the former Soviet Union; co-founder of the Center for a New Generation; corporate board member for Chevron, the Hewlett Foundation and Charles Schwab; member of J.P. Morgan's international advisory council; Council on Foreign Relations member; National Endowment for the Humanities trustee; and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Rice enrolled at the University of Denver at the tender age of 15, graduating cum laude at 19 with a degree in political science. She got her master's at the University of Notre Dame and doctorate from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. No doubt George W., the only man whose opinion will count, knows all this. CITIZEN SHIPS During a recent hearing of the House Armed Services Committee's Merchant Marine Panel, Chairman Duncan L. Hunter, California Republican and Vietnam veteran, made the following point: "When Americans were being killed on the battlefield in Vietnam, and British shipping companies were moving supplies to our adversaries - the North Vietnamese communists, who were killing those Americans on the battlefield - there were undoubtedly, in those corporate memberships, retired admirals and generals who had fought side by side with GIs in World War II who, nonetheless, found themselves bound by circumstance in what I'm sure, for them, was a very uncomfortable situation." Hunter today doesn't want America put back in the uncomfortable position of having its allies support its adversaries - Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan, to name four state sponsors of terrorism - in the event of war. Could it actually happen? The Maritime Security Program (MSP) is a national defense sea-lift project providing monetary assistance to American ocean shipping companies in exchange for guarantees that the Pentagon will have access to the ships in the event of a national defense emergency, like Sept. 11. The program, in addition, saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year by relieving the Defense Department from maintaining a fleet of expensive transport vehicles. There are currently 47 ships in the program, limited to companies that comply with U.S. citizenship requirements. A shipping company, therefore, even if foreign-owned, must be in the operating hands of American citizens. That's where today's problem surfaces. In 1999, AP Moller/Maersk of Denmark purchased the international division of Sea-Land Service Inc., which had 15 ships enrolled in the MSP. In order to meet the citizenship requirement, Maersk entered into contracts with U.S. Ship Management. However, Maersk now contends that the American "middle man" substantially increases its costs, so it is requesting an exception to the citizenship rule, in effect a change in U.S. law. John Clancy, chairman of Maersk Inc., recently reminded Congress that his company is the largest operator of American flagships, 53 ships based in Norfolk alone. "We have operated ships for over 20 years for the U.S. government," Clancy said. "We have participated in Desert Storm, and today, in Afghanistan, (are) playing a significant role. I think history has demonstrated that we can be quote, unquote, 'trusted.' I think if you ask the Marine Corps, they would give you an affirmative response." But Jay Keegan, president and CEO of U.S. Ship Management, told the same congressional panel that in light of the recent terrorist attacks, "citizenship policy has become even more critical." He noted that Maersk continues to conduct business with terrorist states such as Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan. "Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that Maersk has violated U.S. law, because, after all, Maersk is not a U.S. citizen," Keegan said. "But Maersk is appearing before this panel and claiming they should be considered the equivalent of a [U.S.] citizen." In today's times, he said, "it is not enough to be 'like' a citizen." AMEN God isn't totally shunned in this 21st-century version of a school prayer for America. The author is unknown, but it was forwarded to me by reader Mary Jo Garreis: Now I sit me down in school Where praying is against the rule. For this great nation under God Finds mention of Him very odd. If Scripture now the class recites, It violates the Bill of Rights. And anytime my head I bow Becomes a federal matter now. We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks. They've outlawed guns, but first the Bible. To quote the Good Book makes me liable. We can elect a pregnant senior queen, And the unwed daddy our senior king. We get our condoms and birth controls, Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles. But the Ten Commandments are not allowed, No word of God must reach this crowd. It's scary here, I must confess; When chaos reigns, the schools a mess. So Lord, this silent plea I make: Should I be shot, my soul please take.