Saving Private Daschle

John McCaslin
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Posted: Mar 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's untimely criticism of President Bush on failed diplomacy with Iraq - coming on the brink of U.S. soldiers entering battle with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - generated more than 100 angry letters from readers of this column.

One of the more sympathetic is Robert McCaffrey: "One can't help but look upon the current Senate minority leader with both pity and scorn. He immediately brings to mind a little wimp private telling everyone in the barracks on the eve of battle how the general has gone nuts and if they don't go AWOL they're all going to die.

"George Patton had a way to solve Private Tom's psychosis, paranoia and cowardice," says McCaffrey. "Let's hope George Bush does as well."

IRAQI ROAD

A trio of Washington politicos has closed the conservative-liberal ice cream gap with the debut of Star Spangled Ice Cream. "And yes, it's for real," says Ralph Benko of Capital City Partners.

The gimmick being that Americans who love Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but hate Ben & Jerry's politics, have an alternative, created by three guys "who previously knew absolutely nothing about making ice cream."

Consumers can lick four politically incorrect flavors: "I Hate the French Vanilla," "Iraqi Road," "Smaller Govern-mint, " and "Nutty Environmentalist."

"We offer conservatives guilt-free ice cream," Star Spangled Vice President Richard Lessner says. "Plus, a portion of every purchase of Star Spangled Ice Cream goes to charities that support the great men and women in America's armed forces."

Find out more at www.starspangledicecream.com.

NOTHING TO IT

CNN founder Ted Turner said during a question-and-answer session Tuesday with Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Journalism that he recently volunteered to go to Baghdad as a CNN reporter but was rebuffed by his former network.

"Nobody's supposed to know that. Honest to God, I did," Turner said in a transcript we obtained from the New Yorker. "It was a spur of the moment thing. I knew that they were having discussions about whether to stay in Baghdad this time. ...

"I think it would be a sad day if CNN wasn't there. Apparently, some people wanted to pull out. And I did say, 'If nobody else will do it, I'll do it.' They said, 'no.' I'm 64, and I've been pretty well wiped out anyway. Here I am going down in flames. It would be a dramatic way to exit the world," he said.

"They turned me down. They said, 'You're not really qualified to do it.' I said, 'All you have to do is hold the microphone up and say, the bombs are falling all around me.'"

REAL AMERICANS

A patriotic group of "real Americans" has launched War.us, a Web site devoted to supporting U.S. troops in time of battle.

The site is described as a "counterbalance to the multitude of well-funded, anti-American, anti-war efforts now permeating the Internet. War.us offers citizens a place to sign petitions and polls, read breaking news and commentary, andfind like-minded citizens through interactive links - all in support of our troops."

SHOW YOUR COLORS

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson is applauding state Rep. Catherine Ceips' resolution calling on the Dixie Chicks to play a free concert for U.S. troops and their families when they visit the Palmetto State May 1.

The band's concert in Greenville is the first in the United States during the group's current world tour.

"If they are really serious about apologizing to the president and our troops, I can't think of a better way than to perform for our troops and their families here in South Carolina," says Ceips. "These men and women of the military are the backbone of our country, and it's time our stars realize that."

Dawson adds: "After what they said over there, the Dixie Chicks' owe it to our troops over here to do more than just apologize."

Band singer Natalie Maines told a concert crowd in London last week that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The Chicks apologized after country radio stations across the United States stopped playing their music.

TURNING DOWN DUBYA

Steps from the White House on 15th Street is the landmark Old Ebbitt Grill, so close it's practically a White House wing.

In fact, the stately establishment, which dates to 1856, reeks of presidential history and was a favorite watering hole for presidents such as Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt.

Apart from the regular White House crowd, political insiders and journalists alike belly up to the Old Ebbitt's bars. Nine such scribes, who toil in the nearby National Press Club, were seated there St. Patrick's night when the bartender turned up the TV volume for President Bush's address on Iraq.

"The whole room stopped what they were doing; it was real quiet in there," one of the reporters tells this column. "Then all of a sudden (a night manager) comes in and turns the volume all the way down. We all said, 'What's going on here?'

"He replied that it was corporate policy. ... You can't have the television to the point where you can hear it."

At that point, the reporter continues, the crowd grew "pretty angry," so the manager "told everybody they could leave. And a lot of people left. All nine in our group closed our tabs. It became a ghost town in there."

"Bad decision," Old Ebbitt General Manager David Moran agrees. "Our policy is not to have the TV turned up for sporting events, but common sense dictates over policy."

Asked whether that point was made to his night manager, Moran said, "absolutely."

BELATED TOAST

Numerous obituaries were published following this past weekend's passing of Joseph Coors, yet none mentioned the connection between the Colorado beer baron and the federal adoption tax credit for families.

"The obituary writers can be forgiven the omission, given the fact that Joseph Coors' charity is responsible for start-up funding for the Heritage Foundation and (his) ideas included 'Star Wars' missile defense - higher-profile matters," writes William Pierce, president and executive director of the U.S.A. Committee for IAVAAN, the International Association of Voluntary Adoption Agencies and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations).

Then again, adds Pierce, without Coors' funding, "there would be no Heritage Foundation and without Heritage, there would have been no expert to pick up on an idea promoted by the National Council For Adoption - adoption tax credits."

Heritage, in fact, discussed adoption tax credits in one of its policy papers, which influenced then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to add the credits to his "Contract With America" legislative agenda. In the end, the tax credits was one of the items in the Contract that became federal law.