Bush-Lieberman

John McCaslin
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Posted: May 07, 2003 12:00 AM

Before a certain Democrat gets the idea, President George W. Bush had better copyright the 2004 campaign slogan, "It's the axis of evil, stupid."

Bush is riding high after orchestrating the ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and one Democratic presidential candidate in the crowded field of nine can honestly say, "I told you so."

"Lieberman Is the Only Democrat Who Consistently Called for Confronting Saddam Hussein," reads the headline of Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's latest campaign release, which all but praises the leadership of his Republican opponent.

"For the last 12 years, Lieberman has remained resolute on dealing with the threat posed by Iraq," the release says, "whether he was one of the few Democrats voting to authorize the use of force against Saddam in 1991, or when he was the lead Democrat on the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, or just this past year when he was the lead Senate sponsor of the resolution authorizing the use force to remove Saddam."

CONGRESSIONAL RACE

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana will run in the 22nd annual SGMA Capital Challenge this Wednesday (May 7) through Washington, D.C. He will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Twenty-seven members of Congress, in fact, will field teams for the three-mile race, including defending champion Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), "the fastest man in Congress." (Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) was last year's fastest senator, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is longtime fastest female lawmaker.)

Scores of presidential appointees, a dozen judges and several representatives of the fourth estate round out the impressive field.

Of course, competition for the prestigious best and worst team name honors remains intense. One of the more noteworthy, honoring John Cornyns, the new senator from Texas: "My Cornyns Are Hurtin!"

PURPLE HEART DAY

A U.S. senator has introduced a resolution to designate Aug. 7, 2003, as "National Purple Heart Recognition Day."

In doing so, the senator requested that President Bush call for appropriate ceremonies to be held to demonstrate support for the Order of the Purple Heart for Military Merit.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world still in use, the senator said, awarded in the name of the president to members of the military who are wounded in conflict with an enemy force, or held by an enemy force as a prisoner of war; and posthumously to next of kin of those who are killed in conflict, or die of their wounds.

The Purple Heart, the senator explained, was established Aug. 7, 1782, when Revolutionary War Gen. George Washington issued an order establishing the Honorary Badge of Distinction, otherwise known as the Badge of Military Merit, or the Decoration of the Purple Heart.

It ceased being awarded after the war, but was revived in 1932 on the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth. Since then, more than 1.5 million Purple Hearts have been awarded, with about 535,000 of the recipients still living.

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

FIRST THINGS FRIST

A new report on Medicare injects what it hopes will be a "good dose of common sense" into the debate over the program's future.

The report, by Partnership for Prevention, says Medicare should do more to keep seniors healthy, not just treat them when they become ill. This means covering services that can extend elders' lives and significantly improve quality of life - cholesterol, vision and hearing screening, as well as depression counseling and stop-smoking efforts.

As for the prognosis?

If the recommendations were adopted, vision screening would prevent 21,000 hip fractures and 4,400 forearm fractures, says the report. Cholesterol screening would prevent about 62,000 heart attacks and about 45,000 strokes, saving $36 million.

The report has won plaudits from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (a doctor in real life when he's not pushing for a bigger tax cut). "We all know that the Medicare program has not kept pace with the best of modern medicine in many areas, including preventive care," Frist says.

IN CLOSING

"My daddy, my hero, I will take care of Mommy for you as you asked. We will be best friends. I will take her to Sea World for my birthday like you planned. I love you. I need you. I miss you." -- 3-year-old Taylor Pokorney, speaking at the funeral of her father, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Frederick Pokorney, killed in action in Iraq. The girl's words to her father were read on the House floor by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.)

NEW TOURIST STOP

Many Washingtonians aren't even aware that a historic home once belonging to Frederick Douglass sits at 14th and W streets SE in Anacostia, one of this city's poorer neighborhoods.

Similarly, leaders of this nation haven't paid the run-down home much mind.

Enter House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and the Republican leadership, set to announce this Thursday (May 8) that they have secured a $2 million commitment to refurbish the dwelling of the father of the modern civil rights movement.

Douglass was a runaway slave and served as an adviser to President Lincoln during the Civil War, later becoming a powerful advocate for desegregating schools, housing and employment, and the right to vote. In 1877, he was appointed U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia.

His home, established as a historical site in 1962, averages nearly 30,000 visitors annually.

"Frederick Douglass rose from slavery to prominence when everything in society was set up to discourage him from even making the attempt. That's what you understand when you walk through his house," conservative commentator Armstrong Williams remarked to this column.

The Republican leadership will be using the Douglass event as a starting point for initiatives geared toward empowering black Americans. They will discuss creating jobs, equal access to a quality education, the D.C. school-choice initiative, investments in college-prep programs, Pell grants and historically black colleges and universities, the charitable-giving initiative, increasing the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000, and health care initiatives.

GODSPEED, GOD

Yes, Americans have been publicly praying for the safe return of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq. And yes, last Thursday was the annual National Day of Prayer, when Americans gathered in town squares and even on the steps of courthouses to pray.

But don't be fooled, one congressman says: God, or at least his name, is slowly disappearing from the public venue.

"Even though the Founding Fathers spoke of 'nature's God' and of the 'Creator' in the Declaration of Independence, the federal courts are increasingly trying to drive every vestige of faith from public life," says Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a Catholic and graduate of Atlantic Christian College.

Jones cites a recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, barring the Virginia Military Institute "from writing and reciting a prayer before cadets eat their evening meals."

Similar story at The Citadel in South Carolina, which in light of the court's ruling is reviewing its own prayer policy. Ditto at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has called on the academy to review its practices of leading cadets in prayer.

All of this, he points out, comes on the heels of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to strike "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It is not just sad," Jones says, "it is completely detestable."