Elusive verse

Posted: Dec 13, 2002 12:00 AM
Vice President Richard B. Cheney's whereabouts are generally unknown, as security concerns in the war on terror require him to be at an "undisclosed, secure location." Monday night (Dec. 9), however, Cheney was one of hundreds on hand at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to honor former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The vice president presented Lady Thatcher with the Heritage Foundation's Clare Boothe Luce Award, which prompted England's "Iron Lady" to break out in verse. Cheney, she said, reminded her of another "intrepid warrior," the Scarlet Pimpernel: "We seek him here, we seek him there/Those Frenchies seek him everywhere," she said, quoting author and baroness Emmuska Orczy. Thatcher, herself a baroness, then turned to Cheney and remarked: "Tonight, Mr. Vice President, for once we know exactly where you are." WE'RE LISTENING We've written in recent days that Al Gore is getting more "on air" time of late than the real vice president. Click on the tube, and there's Al Gore. In his most recent prime-time appearance, on CNN's "Inside Politics" Monday night (Dec. 9), Gore became one of the latest Democrats to blast Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for saying at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party last week that "the United States would have been better off had Strom Thurmond won his 1948 presidential campaign." It was a compliment that Gore and his Democrat brothers, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, quickly called racist, given that Thurmond ran in the first half of the last century on the "Dixiecrat" ticket. If Gore is serious in condemning both Lott and Thurmond, in his next television appearance let's hear him attack his own state's allegiance to fellow Tennesseean Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the leading cavalry generals of the Civil War. Has Gore forgotten that Forrest, after the war, not only joined the Ku Klux Klan, he became one of its early leaders? That didn't stop Gore's state of Tennessee, however, from dedicating Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, a popular recreation area. Look around Tennessee and you'll even find a Nathan Bedford Forrest monument or two. Many residents still celebrate Nathan Bedford Forrest Day on July 13, the day he was born. WHERE WAS AL? "Strom Thurmond is a man of character, wisdom, energy and leadership, and he's one big reason America is back on the road to greatness again." -- President Reagan, at a fund-raising dinner for Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) in Columbia, S.C., Sept. 20, 1983. ETERNAL OPTIMIST Statements by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the appointments of President Bush's Securities and Exchange Commission chairmen: July 19, 2001: "At a time when we need excellence in government, Mr. (Harvey) Pitt personifies that excellence. His reputation, deservedly so, has achieved almost godlike proportions. He could well be described as the Zeus of his field." Dec. 11, 2002: "The SEC desperately needs someone who both has a deep knowledge of how the markets function and at the same time possesses a rock-ribbed integrity. Bill Donaldson is such a man. I salute the administration for appointing him and appointing him quickly." Quips House Deputy Majority Whip Mark Foley (R-Fla.): "I can only hope that Mr. Schumer's praise of this rock-solid candidate will last longer this time than an Elizabeth Taylor marriage." ENGLISH ENGINEERING One of our readers was perusing the Fairfax County (Va.) Park Authority's Web site for details on the Christmas candlelight tours at Sully Plantation in Chantilly, Va., northwest of Washington. "Imagine how surprised I was to learn that Sully Plantation is no longer a plantation at all, but a 'Historic Site,'" the reader writes. "In fact, the entire Web site has been scrubbed clean of the word 'plantation.' This results in some rather tortured phrasing: 'plantation slaves' become 'the enslaved African-American community,' and Sully Plantation itself becomes just plain 'Sully,' making the Sully site look just plain silly." Sully, as it's now called, was home of Richard Bland and Elizabeth Collins Lee. It was built in 1794 on land inherited by his father, Henry Lee II. In 1789, Lee was elected to represent Northern Virginia in the first U.S. Congress. Noreen C. McCann, Sully's assistant site manager, tells our reader that use of the word plantation "is something that has come up numerous times in discussions here, and has become quite a research project over the years." The name "Sully Historic Site" was chosen, she says, for several reasons, including that "visitors trying to locate us in the phone book would look for us under the 'S' section and not confuse us with all of the other businesses named Sully in our area. For a brief period, we were called Historic Sully, but were listed under the 'H' section in the phone book."