- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2000

'Mr. Dingellman'

The most successful, if not cleverly planned, infiltration during the recent Democratic National Convention undocumented, we believe, until now occurred at a reception honoring Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat.

The event took place at the House of Blues and was hosted by America's energy industry: the American Gas Association, Edison Electric Institute, National Mining Association and Nuclear Energy Institute.

Following a welcome videotaped by Mr. Dingell (his recent ankle surgery kept him from attending in person), a well-dressed woman assumed the stage spotlight and greeted everybody on behalf of "Congressman Dingellman."

"We did not understand how she could get his name wrong," recalls one gentleman in attendance who requests anonymity.

"Then she asked us to thank the event sponsors, such as the National Mining Association: 'I wonder how many billions of dollars they bilked from the government while stripping our lands?' she asked.

"And the Nuclear Energy Institute, 'who used dangerous radiation instead of pursuing safer means of production like solar and wind power.'

"She went on, 'Perhaps this is why there are protesters both outside and inside this event.'

"Only then did it become obvious to most watching that she was a protester who had infiltrated this private event," the man says.

"Most of the people in the audience began to boo and hiss at her," he says, "and even throw ice at her from their drinks."

At this point, the lights were turned down, the sound shut off, and another woman grabbed the microphone from the protester's hand. It seemed she was going to apologize for the interruption, so the spotlight came back on, as did the microphone. But as soon as everything was up and running again, she too began to berate the crowd and sponsors.

"Another protester," explains the gentleman. But wait, there's more.

"As security escorted the two away, a group of people on the floor of the event began chanting against the congressman and sponsors. More protesters. All professionally dressed. They were also escorted away," he says.

Eventually, a genuine Dingell staff member took the stage to say she was happy that people living in America are allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Rose's grandson

Another grandson of Rose Kennedy is running for Congress.

"No one will work harder than me to use this time of prosperity to tackle the big issues of the day and keep the American dream alive," says Mark Kennedy, 43.

"My background is … business," says Mr. Kennedy, who's held leadership posts with four of the country's most respected companies, including Pillsbury and Shopko Stores, serving as chief financial officer for the latter.

OK, Mark Kennedy isn't the son or nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. Actually, he's a Republican, running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd District.

But like the other Kennedys, Mark's grandmother's name was Rose. And the similarities don't stop there, the candidate informs this column in a telephone interview.

"You're probably familiar with Patrick Kennedy," Mr. Kennedy says, referring to the Rhode Island Democratic congressman and son of the Massachusetts senator. "Well, we're both the third child of the youngest of four sons of Rose Kennedy.

"And Rose's father was not the mayor of Boston [like the other Rose], but he was county commissioner of Swift County, Minnesota, and his name is on the courthouse in Benson, Minnesota, and that is where I was born," he says.

"But Charles Kennedy, husband of Rose and my grandfather, was mayor of Murdock, Minnesota, and I began my life in the home they built. And my father, Eugene, was on the school board for 27 years."

Still, Mr. Kennedy wishes to stress: "We're the country conservative Kennedys, not the liberal town Kennedys."

Awful Jesse

Finally, regarding our item yesterday on Washingtonian magazine's surprising everybody, including one senator in particular, by voting North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms as No. 1 in the "Just Plain Nice" category, reader John Keohane writes:

"It is not a big surprise that Jesse Helms might truthfully be described as a nice guy. Years ago, I was in the Senate building on business when a family of tourists, obviously lost, were roaming around until they were joined by a courtly older gentleman who answered their questions and gave them directions and suggestions.

"The gentleman never gave his name and I do not think the family realized that they were talking to the awful Jesse Helms."

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