Dow's due

Posted: Nov 05, 2003 12:00 AM

Some Missouri mail carriers suddenly work at Walt Disney's.

Congress has approved a long list of U.S. Postal Service facilities to be named after worthy Americans, including the Walt Disney Post Office in Marceline, Mo., the Bob Hope Post Office in Burbank, Calif., and the John G. Dow Post Office in Tappan, N.Y.

Dow, who died this year at age 97, was a staunchly liberal New York Democrat and one of the earliest congressional opponents of the Vietnam War.


A leading congressman has written to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Tom Scully demanding an "immediate and full explanation" for why his agency is spending nearly $1 million on a blimp flying over sporting events to advertise Medicare's new toll-free number.

Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, observes that "most seniors aren't painting their faces, tailgating and screaming at college football games. While Goodyear and Budweiser can spend their endless amounts of money however they choose, our government needs to be held accountable."


In reading Don Oberdorfer's new book, "Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat," we not only learn a great deal more about the late Mike Mansfield, longtime Senate majority leader from Montana, but also the members he inspired who remain on Capitol Hill.

One of the more noteworthy is Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), now serving his sixth term.

"Biden, whose wife and daughter had been killed in an automobile accident six weeks after his election in 1972, would never have sat in the Senate without Mansfield's intercession," Oberdorfer writes in his Smithsonian book.

Shortly after the tragedy, Biden phoned Mansfield in order to resign, explaining to the leader that he couldn't be both senator and "the father I want to be" to his two young sons, both severely injured in the crash.

Mansfield wouldn't hear of it, repeatedly calling the hospital to tell Biden he owed it to his wife, who had worked hard for his election.

"Biden reluctantly agreed but declined to come to Washington to be sworn in on the opening day of Congress," the author notes, so Mansfield sent the secretary of the Senate to Wilmington to administer the oath of office in the hospital room of 4-year-old Beau Biden, who was in a body cast, and 3-year-old Hunter Biden, who had suffered a severe skull fracture.

"He knew that work was the only thing that could save me," Biden recalled. "He was constantly taking my pulse, keeping me engaged and involved."

In addition, the majority leader arranged to meet privately with Biden at least once a week on Capitol Hill.

"I thought it was everyone (who conferred with the leader this way) but after a while I learned I was the only freshman he was talking to like this," Biden said.

Mansfield, said Oberdorfer, was "Biden's unseen sponsor and a caring but businesslike tutor."


The public flap continues to swirl over several grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, with the latest person in the hot seat being Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

Waxman had recently sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson expressing "outrage" about questions raised concerning NIH grants. Now the congressman has received a letter.

"Congressman, if you think you are mad, wait until you see how angry the American people get when they discover that you and your allies at NIH have been using federal tax dollars to study 'lot lizards' - prostitutes who service truckers in parking lots," writes Andrea S. Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition.

One example of NIH-funded "research" brought to Waxman's attention: homosexual and bisexual Mexican immigrants' incorporation into U.S. homosexual life and the study of homosexual jealousy.