- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Misery loves company
On Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator Sean O'Keefe found himself all but alone when laying an anniversary wreath at the memorial for the Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded upon liftoff Jan. 28, 1986, killing all seven crew members.
Unfortunately for our brave astronauts, space shuttle missions have become all too common, virtually ignored by the media, until something goes terribly wrong.
Had Columbia traveled the final 16 minutes of its 16-day mission, few of us would have ever known about the incredible lives and accomplishments of commander Rick D. Husband, pilot William C. McCool, payload commander Michael P. Anderson, and fellow astronauts David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel B. Clark and Ilan Ramon.
And what wonderful life stories they turned out to be.
For that, we should all feel ashamed.
Still hope
In January 1990, Republican Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama had a rare opportunity to meet for more than an hour with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Specter's take on today's impasse with the Iraqi leader?
"Although he is brutal … and is venal, I think it may be accurate to say he is not suicidal," says the senator. "I believe that if he sees the noose around him, perhaps there is some opportunity he may step aside or that the military or others in Iraq may take action to dislodge him from a leadership position."
Gregory's Law
David Hoppe, most uncommon chief of staff to recently dethroned Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, has stepped down from Capitol Hill after 27 years and myriad milestones.
Among the senators who bid Mr. Hoppe a fond farewell was Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who called Mr. Lott's aide "one of the most remarkable people I have had the pleasure of meeting in my entire life, one of the most decent … without ego, without a desire to go out and seek public office, like many of us have done, devot[ing] himself to improving America and to advancing the causes in which he believed by working through elected officials."
Never better demonstrated than in 1997, when through his disabled son, Gregory, Mr. Hoppe wielded unprecedented influence on lawmakers and the Clinton White House during legislative overhaul of special-education policy for millions of disabled children.
"Dave, raising that son and living with the [Down syndrome] his son had, had a particular awareness of how to adapt that legislation," Mr. McConnell said, "to the needs of not only his son, but a lot of other youngsters who found themselves in the same dilemma."
He recalled Mr. Hoppe saying: "Every night, when I came home and every morning when I got up, I saw who it could help."
It was Mr. Hoppe who brokered the final agreement between Congress and Mr. Clinton. USA Today immediately dubbed it "Gregory's Law," after the legislation's guiding light.
"You had somebody who brought a deep life experience to the whole process," former Sen. Dan Coats, Indiana Republican, told the newspaper, which had opined that without Gregory's disability and his dad's doggedness, Mr. Clinton and Congress would still be embroiled in debate over the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
As it was, the Senate voted 98-1 to send the bill to Mr. Clinton. And three weeks later, the president invited Mr. Hoppe and his family to the White House, where Gregory watched the bill be signed into law.
Drought David
The Senate has passed a $3.1 billion disaster assistance package to aid Midwesterners affected by the worst drought since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.
But Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, says $3.1 billion is not nearly enough to cover the losses of farmers and ranchers in his state.
So Mr. Nelson has given the drought a name, "David," like those attached to other natural disasters, such as hurricanes, which receive immediate emergency federal assistance.
Several senators of late have been seen on Capitol Hill wearing "Drought David" ribbons.
Time to forgive?
Edward R. "Ned" Kimmel, as the sole surviving son of the late Navy Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, his name inexorably attached to December 7, 1941, today will accept a prestigious award from the Foundation for America, citing the Pearl Harbor commander as an extraordinary American.
"There's a touch of irony in all of this," observes Mr. Kimmel, who with his wife, Harriott, has traveled from Wilmington, Del., to accept the award on his father's behalf. "We have for decades now been appealing to the U.S. government to take official action exonerating the admiral and his colleague Army Gen. Walter Short from blame for the Pearl Harbor disaster."

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