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Looks Like a Duck

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Dialogue between Republican Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Todd Akin of Missouri.

Mr. Broun: "President Obama has promised the American people that he would veto any bill that had earmarks in it. I call upon the president to veto this [economic stimulus] bill that we passed today. It has over 9,000 earmarks in it."

Mr. Akin: "I heard it was 7,500 earmarks."

Mr. Broun: "Well, whatever."

Mr. Akin: "He said if it has earmarks in it he's going to veto it, but what do you think [he'll] say - that those really aren't earmarks? Those things that look like earmarks and that smell like earmarks aren't earmarks? Is that what we're going to hear?"


The nation's economic crisis aside, President Obama has the entire planet to worry about.

Perhaps Francis Ford Coppola's epic story "The Godfather" will provide clues to the challenges the new president faces when it comes to foreign policy.

"The Godfather Doctrine: A Foreign Policy Parable," due out next month, and co-authored by John C. Hulsman and A. Wess Mitchell (the latter co-founder of the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington), recalls New York crime family boss Don Vito Corleone being gunned down in broad daylight, leaving sons Sonny and Michael, and adopted son Tom Hagen, to chart a new course for the family.

The aging and wounded don, explains one summary, is emblematic of Cold War American power on the decline in a new world where U.S. enemies play by unfamiliar rules. The don's heirs, meanwhile, uncannily exemplify the three leading schools of U.S. foreign policy today.

Tom, the left-of-center liberal institutionalist, thinks the old rules still apply and negotiations are the answer. Sonny is the Bush-era neocon: shoot first, ask questions later, while providing an easy target for your enemies. Only Michael, the realist, detects the changing scene, recognizing the need for flexible combinations of soft and hard power to keep the family strong and maintain its influence and security in a dangerous and rapidly changing world.


Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, has been appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Joining him are Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, and Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, albeit the latter has just announced he's giving up his House seat to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond.


So, President and Mrs. Obama have decided on a Portuguese Water Dog, the yet-named "first pooch" due to arrive at the White House once daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, return from their spring holiday.

When she was the same age as Malia, my daughter Kerry got her own Portuguese Water Dog. Henceforth, Ernest T. Bass (and to think Mrs. Obama turned down her daughters' choices of Moose and Frank as fitting names) was at her side for every adventure a girl and her dog can experience.

"Loyalty was definitely one of his attributes," recalls Kerry's mother, travel and food writer Katie McElveen, who wept with the rest of the family this past Christmas when the curly, jet-black Ernest T. (E.T. for short) juggled his last squeaky duck.

"He'd stand outside my office with a toy and stare balefully. If that didn't get me away from the computer, he'd assume he'd chosen the wrong toy and get another one. He entertained us every night with his toys - one glance away from the television or conversation and he'd launch into his performance, rolling onto his back, tossing his toy into the air, catching it in his paws or mouth, the whole time squeaking it loudly.

"We never failed to laugh and he never seemed to stop loving the sound of it. Some Portuguese bark a lot, but E.T. never did, relying instead on 'fake barks' - proper mouth movement but no sound - and positioning himself near a surface that would allow his tail to make noise when he wagged. E.T. knew what he wanted and how to get it.

"A snack? Stand by the treat cupboard and refuse to move. When called: look at the treat cupboard, back to whomever is calling you, then back to the treat cupboard. We could never outwait E.T. He had the patience of Job."

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