Hillary's guns

John McCaslin
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Posted: Apr 23, 2003 12:00 AM

Hoping to bank on the successful campaign style of Hillary Rodham Clinton, two of the leading 2004 Democratic presidential contenders have hired two of the nation's top media consultants for their campaigns.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut has snagged Democratic strategist Mandy Grunwald, who was not only media adviser and director of advertising for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, but later designed strategy and ads for Clinton's New York Senate campaign in 2000.

We recall Grunwald commenting in advance of the 1996 presidential campaign that it would be a difficult chore for Republicans to unseat President Clinton because "Bob Dole has been Newt Gingrich's Siamese twin" for too long.

(Today, there's a long caravan of Democratic candidates on a tough road to recapture the White House, given President Bush's impressive victory in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, his strides in fighting terrorism, and high popularity numbers among Republicans and Democrats alike).

Meanwhile, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has hired David Axelrod and Associates to be his lead media consultant. Chicago-based Axelrod similarly handled media for Clinton's Senate campaign.

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

One day you might see Dean A. Heyl on the Republican presidential ballot.

In fact, the chairman of the D.C. Young Republicans was one of the speakers this week at the National Press Club, where Americans for Tax Reform held its annual rally in support of lower taxes and less government.

"As a Republican in the District, I appreciate any chance I get to speak," the young man told a boisterous crowd. "I wish (D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes) Norton would support lower taxes.

"Unfortunately, she is more preoccupied with such things as denying D.C. residents their Second Amendment rights and promoting the dreaded 'commuter tax.' This ill-conceived plan would unfairly increase the tax burdens of Maryland and Virginia citizens, whose only crime is living too close to the District."

HANGING ALLIES

One of the highlights of any visit to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington is strolling through the Hall of Nations, where in the Grand Foyer flags are hung of countries with which the U.S. maintains diplomatic relations.

As visitors stand with their backs to the entrance from the plaza, the sequence begins on the left with the U.S. flag, eventually crossing alphabetically over to the right side, concluding with the flag of the United Nations.

But given this ever-changing world in which we live, the Kennedy Center, for the first time since 1971, is replacing and updating its original display, unfurling 22 new flags - Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, to name a few - bringing the total number of flags now displayed to 186.

All 186 of the new flags are a gift from the president of the World Bank, Kennedy Center Chairman Emeritus James D. Wolfensohn, and his wife. The original 164 flags, somewhat faded and dusty, will be returned to representatives of their countries.

To complement the new flags in the Hall of Nations, the center is also replacing the 56 flags in the Hall of States. They represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas.

CHEAPER TO SIN

Fathers weighing a walk down the aisle would have reason to get married under proposed legislation to eliminate the marriage-tax penalty for low-income couples in the 15 percent tax bracket.

The nonpartisan Alliance for Marriage supports ending the tax because few fathers in the low tax bracket are permanent fixtures in their families.

"Under the current tax code, working poor and low-income couples will be taxed significantly less if they cohabit," notes the alliance's president, Matt Daniels. "However, if they choose to marry - and to raise any children they may have in the context of marriage - the government slaps them with a tax penalty.

"Marriage is what makes fatherhood more than a biological event," he says.

Daniels points to social science research establishing that children in fatherless families are five times more likely to be poor, three times more likely to do poorly in school, and twice as likely to engage in criminal activity.

STANDS ALONE

We received a great deal of correspondence regarding our item on confusion surrounding duplicate surnames in this 108th Congress: seven congressmen Davises, five Millers, four Browns, four Johnsons, three Bishops, even two congressmen named Michael Rogers.

"Wouldn't be any name confusion if I were in Congress," writes Paul Wittpenn, of Ocala, Fla. "Send me to Congress."

FORCE FED

Americans certainly have been fed sufficient pork with the congressionally passed $78.5 billion War Supplemental Appropriations bill.

"Although President Bush had requested the legislation to finance the war in Iraq and other anti-terrorism provisions, lawmakers shamefully seized the opportunity to tack on funds for 29 unrelated projects, which cost more than $348 million," Citizens Against Government Waste reports.

Samples of pork: $110 million for the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa; $5.5 million for a Library of Congress public address system; $5 million for state and tribal wildlife grants; $3.3 million for something called "the European Communities music listening dispute"; $513,000 for wastewater improvements in Princeton, W.Va.; $500,000 for the St. Louis Children's Museum; $437,000 for the sanitary board of Huntington, W.Va.; $231,000 for Lutheran church abstinence education in Allentown, Pa.; $225,000 for the mental health association of Tarrant County, Texas; and $200,000 for infrastructure improvements of a homeless service center on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh.

STREETWALKERS

The way Neil Alpert sees it, Young Republicans for 72 years "have been the farm team of Republican politics."

And given the YR's new team of coaches, the finance director says the future is bright.

The YR coaching staff - er, advisory board - is now led by former President Gerald Ford, along with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., former Ambassador Margaret M. Heckler, former Louisiana Rep. Robert Livingston, Montana Gov. Judy Martz, former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, and former New York Rep. Susan Molinari and her husband, former New York Rep. Bill Paxon, among others.

Alpert says the YR prides itself on being an "organization of walkers," helping to elect officeholders from town council to the U.S. Senate. In the previous midterm elections, they deployed 156,000 YR members on the streets in the 72 hours before the election.