Pentagon brass forever in the position of explaining to a wavering public why we as a nation are at war are now pointing to an essay written by U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Joseph R. Tomczak, titled "Winter Break."
The cadet recently wrote about why he returned to the rigors of the academy after his winter break - exchanging "T-shirts and swim suits for flight suits and camouflage" after "listening to our friends who are home from state or Ivy League schools chock full of wisdom about how our war in Iraq is unjust and unworldly."
"Why would we return?" he asks. "And after watching the news and reading the papers, which only seem to condemn the military's every mistake and shadow every victory, why would we continue to think it is worth the sacrifice?"
He offers numerous reasons, simply put:
- "I come back to the academy because during my freshman year of high school I sat in a geometry class and watched 19 terrorists change the course of history live on television."
- "I come back . . . because I don't want the woman I love to be the one who dials her frantic cell phone call while huddled in the back of an airliner with 100 other people seconds away from slamming into the Capitol building."
- "I come back ... because, if called upon, I want to be the pilot who flies halfway around the world with three midair refuelings to send a bomb from 30,000 feet into a basement housing the enemy - through a ventilation shaft 2 feet wide."
- "I come back to the academy because I want to be the commander who saves lives by negotiating with Arab leaders - in their own language."
- "For becoming an officer in today's modern Air Force is so much more than just command; it is being a diplomat, a strategist, a communicator, a moral compass, but always a warrior first."
The White House on Wednesday said President Bush was unaware until recently of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.
Members of both political parties, meanwhile, have vowed to stop the sale to the Dubai-based company.
It so happens that Bush on Jan. 25 announced his nomination of one of DPW's senior executives, Dave Sanborn, to serve as U.S. maritime administrator, reporting directly to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.
Sanborn was serving as European and Latin American director of operations for Dubai Ports World.
Mohammed Sharaf, CEO of Dubai Ports World, commented after Bush's announcement: "While we are sorry to lose such an experienced and capable executive, it is exactly those qualities that will make Dave an effective (maritime) administrator. We are proud of Dave's selection and pleased that the Bush administration found such a capable executive."
It was during lunch Wednesday with Tim Doyle, economic-affairs officer with the Irish Embassy in Washington, that we learned that a bronze sculpture of former President Bill Clinton in Ballybunion, Ireland - unveiled with much fanfare in 1998 - had been vandalized.
"One of the president's balls is missing!" blared the headline of The Munster Express, serving southeast Ireland since 1859. The newspaper reported several months ago that a bronze golf ball was removed from the base of the statue, which stands more than 7 feet tall and depicts Clinton taking a golf swing.
The likeness of Clinton is a popular tourist attraction, marking the former president's first-ever visit to Ballybunion, where he played a round of golf at its world-famous oceanside course.
This isn't the first time we've reported on Clinton's journeys to Ballybunion, where this columnist's ancestors (a dozen brothers in all) ran a beachside bathhouse that's still in operation today.
Take the day that Clinton's sharp-eyed advance men, scouting the village ahead of one presidential visit, spotted a suspicious sign nailed above a boarded-up hairdresser's shop: "Monica's."
Within minutes, village fathers (no doubt with wide grins on their faces, given the Monica Lewinsky scandal) were scrambling up a ladder to take the sign down.
It was a packed "press night" Tuesday at the National Theatre, and Dame Edna didn't disappoint - flinging a flowering gladiolus into the outstretched hands of an audience member and declaring: "I'm a better shot than Dick Cheney."
(She dared suggest there were reporters in the audience who actually hoped the vice president's hunting pal didn't pull through, which obviously makes for a more scandalous story.)
Direct from Broadway with a hilarious new comedy routine - "Dame Edna: Back With A Vengeance!" - and a splashing wardrobe of never-before-seen gowns, the famed international housewife (actually, Australian Barry Humphries) has landed in Washington for a limited engagement through March 5.
Oh, and her Christmas presents to President Bush last year: a "word-a-day" calendar and world atlas, although he had trouble finding "abroad" in the index.
LIVES THAT MATTER
Amber Hildebrand, former media director of the Family Research Council, has joined Maximum Impact Public Relations as senior publicist. Foremost on her immediate agenda: promoting the new Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, an organization founded by the late woman's family to end the practice of human euthanasia all over the world.
Timed to correspond with the publication of the Schindler family's new book, "A Life That Matters," the foundation will be officially launched in the coming weeks, says Max Pulsinelli, president of the Alexandria-based PR practice.
The nonprofit foundation is dedicated to ensuring rights of the disabled, the elderly and the vulnerable against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing. Last March 31, the 41-year-old Schiavo died of marked dehydration after more than 13 days without nutrition or hydration under court order.
Ed. Note: You may now preorder "A Life That Matters" at Amazon.com for 32% off the cover price.
We pledged to alert readers if and when a Hillary Rodham Clinton thong cropped up - an almost certain signal that the Democratic senator from New York is running for president.
Yes, Virginia, there now is such a monster, in red, white and blue: the "Hillary Clinton for President 2008" classic thong, for only $9.
Men will similarly delight in the "Hillary is My Home Girl" boxer shorts.