In need of a throne

John McCaslin
|
Posted: Jun 04, 2003 12:00 AM

Ever since the historic day outgoing President Clinton handed him the keys to the White House, a polite and appreciative President Bush has declined to tell the world how he really feels about the man he replaced in the White House pantry.

Now, Clinton has made it known that he wishes he were back in command of the myriad nooks and crannies of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. - suggesting the 22nd Amendment be modified to allow a president to serve more than an entire decade and more in office.

In Clintonspeak, Bubba is saying he wishes he were still president and Dubya wasn't.

And while Dubya isn't responding, his little brother is.

"President Clinton wouldn't view himself being critical of anybody because he's always thinking about himself. It's all about Bill," Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told syndicated radio host Sean Hannity, his text provided by NewsMax.com. "Bill Clinton," said the president's sibling, "is the most self-absorbed person living in America."

COURAGE UNDER FIRE

She's coming to Washington this month to tell us about the Winston Churchill most of us never knew: the real man behind all the famous quotes.

In fact, Celia Sandys spends a great amount of time giving lectures around the world about things we didn't know about her grandfather. But now she's put her lectures into print, publishing We Shall Not Fail (Portfolio/Penguin Group).

The new book examines the leadership strategies that made Churchill a powerful role model, not only in his own time but half a century later. Particularly since Sept. 11, given everyone from President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have taken to quoting Churchill.

The author, who spent many hours with her grandfather while growing up, says Churchill's staying power has something to do with courage under fire, eloquence, magnanimity, creativity and other attributes of inspiring leadership.

She says Churchill was never destined for greatness, and was actually frail and sickly as a young man. But he pushed himself to become a fiercely brave soldier on the outposts of the British Empire, long before his triumphant leadership during World War II.

HONORING HENRY

A number of distinguished Yale professors gathered last Friday (May 30) at the Library of Congress and with a unique daylong series of lectures honored a Harvard man.

The occasion was the 80th birthday of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and the title of the lectures was "History and Practice."

Speakers included Paul Kennedy, John Gaddis, Charles Hill, Samuel Huntington and Sir Michael Howard. And yes, Kissinger was allowed to interject his thoughts into the lectures from time to time.

FAN OF THE U.N.

A U.S. congressman has no plans to remove the blue-and-white flag of the United Nations he proudly flies above the entrance to his Capitol Hill office.

"It is still flying," says the chief of staff to Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.).

"We've been getting a lot of calls, and people have a right to express themselves," Rochelle Dornatt tells this column. "But the congressman values American participation in the United Nations, especially at this time when there is a worldwide effort toward peace.

"I think the congressman would tell you that the only forum toward that end right now is the U.N., and we need to make it work," she adds. "Failure is not an option. The U.N. holds the key to that."

The San Francisco Chronicle quoted the 61-year-old lawmaker as saying that his interest in the global body dates to his boyhood, when his parents took him to a U.N. commemoration in his hometown of San Francisco.

"I fell in love with all the flags flying in San Francisco from all the nations," Farr said. "We've got to do everything in our power to make the U.N. the leadership body it was intended to be. ... This president has no respect for the United Nations."

The Bush administration and many Americans grew increasingly frustrated with the United Nations in the weeks leading up to the war to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-led military effort drew sharp opposition from U.N. Security Council members France, Germany and Russia.

Farr's chief of staff, meanwhile, said that contrary to popular thinking, the congressman also flies the U.S., California state and U.S. Peace Corps flags in his office.

'60s DIGRESSION

Singer Pat Boone turned 69 on Sunday (June 1), and to celebrate the milestone, he's signed up as national spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, a rapidly growing senior citizen lobby entering its 11th year.

Apart from being the No. 10 recording artist of all time (he's recently back on the Billboard charts with his album "American Glory" and the single "Under God"), Boone serves as spokesman for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; helped found the American Basketball Association (he owned the Oakland Oaks team); and works with the March of Dimes, National Association of the Blind, and national Easter Seals telethon.

As for the Arlington-based 60 Plus Association, its president is Jim Martin, who it's worth repeating gave George W. Bush his first political job in 1967. Martin was the top aide to Rep. Edward J. Gurney, a Florida Republican running for the Senate, and "we were looking for someone to get the media on and off the plane, into their hotel rooms, and back up again at 6 a.m.," he told this column.

Jimmy Allison, who had just finished managing the winning campaign of a freshman congressman from Texas by the name of George Bush, informed Martin: "I've got somebody in mind, the congressman's oldest son. He's getting out of Yale, just like his father. He's getting his license to be a pilot, just like his dad."

"Gosh," Martin replied, "how much will we have to pay him and how soon can he start?"

Soon, the young Bush was riding with a handful of reporters aboard a propeller-driven press plane occupied by the congressman and Martin.

"I remember him as a very handsome 21-year-old," Martin said, "a clean-cut guy, very articulate, extremely bright, very gregarious, a hale fellow well met, in that everybody likes him instantly. You shake hands with him, you like him, too. And he was very cordial with the press, too."

And yes, Gurney, with the able assistance of the future president, won the Senate seat, capturing 59 percent of the vote.

AT HOME IN NEBRASKA

Fifty-seven years after the fact, as far as the two Nebraska senators are concerned, isn't too late to recognize the outstanding efforts of the people who volunteered or donated items to the North Platte Canteen during World War II.

So Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson have introduced a resolution to do just that, referring their proposal to the Judiciary Committee and to President Bush for proclamation. And what an intriguing tale the senators tell.

At the start of World War II, residents of North Platte, Neb., got word that members of the Nebraska National Guard would be traveling through the city on a troop train en route to the West Coast. They decided to meet the train with food and other gifts when it arrived at the Union Pacific railroad station on Dec. 17, 1941.

But instead of Nebraskans, residents discovered that the train was full of Kansans on their way to fight in the war. Despite the friendly rivalry between the two bordering states, the residents of Nebraska donated the items anyway.

That prompted Rae Wilson, of North Platte, to propose establishing the North Platte Canteen, so residents could greet every troop train traveling through the city "with comforts from home." On Christmas Day, 1941, the canteen began serving meals and other items to U.S. troops traveling east and west across the country before being shipped overseas. They covered the costs through benefit dances, scrap-metal drives, school victory clubs, and the donation of cans to local businesses.

From the first Christmas through April 1, 1946, the canteen greeted and served food to 6 million men and women from every state in the Union.