- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Irrationally attached

Comedian/liberal activist Al Franken’s new article for Mother Jones about his recent eight-day USO tour of Iraq and Afghanistan “is not going to be what you might expect from me or this magazine.”

After all, Mr. Franken became “irrationally attached” to U.S. Army officers.

“As I said to every soldier who thanked me for coming, ‘It’s my honor,’” begins Mr. Franken, who took off from Andrews Air Force Base with his antiwar brother, Owen, a troupe of country music performers, and “The Taliban Cheerleaders,” aka Washington Redskins cheerleaders Katie and Kelley Cornwell, whose skit hid them behind black burkas.

“My brother Owen is an expatriate who lives in Paris,” the comedian writes. “You probably couldn’t find someone more against the war in Iraq than Owen. But during the trip, he was moved to tears on a number of occasions, and when we dropped him in Germany on the way home, he asked the whole group to sing ‘God Bless America’ one last time. We ended each show with it.”

In fact, Mr. Franken says, “That first night I got all teary-eyed when we ended with ‘God Bless America.’ In the front row I saw a black male soldier linking arms with a white male soldier and a woman soldier, swaying back and forth and really meaning it.”

This happened to be the same military unit that had just captured Saddam Hussein. They cheered when the comedian, sporting a fake mustache, borrowed a Saddam uniform and beret and allowed himself to be handcuffed and led off stage by two M.P.s.

After his tour, Mr. Franken was presented with a Distinguished Civilian Service medal from the secretary of the Army — “which I plan to wear whenever I debate a conservative on TV.”

‘Crooked’ Scout

Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, was confused after receiving an official request that he support the Boy Scouts of America.

After all, the liberal congressman said, according to that organization, he isn’t “morally straight.”

Let’s begin with a letter sent to Mr. Frank by Roy L. Williams, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America’s national office in Irving, Texas. It reads, in part:

“For 94 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been preparing young people to make better choices over their lifetimes. We would be honored if you would lend your support to this important effort … I look forward to hearing from you.”

Hear he did.

“Dear Mr. Williams,” Mr. Frank wrote back. “I was very surprised … that you wish me to sign … my support for the Boy Scouts of America. Where there is much about what the Boy Scouts do that I admire and I am a former Scout myself, I was under the impression that you considered people like myself to be unworthy of association with the Boy Scouts.

“I am a gay man, which according to your policy as I read it in various court decisions, means that I am neither ‘morally straight’ nor ‘clean.’ Why do you want a person you so characterize to be signing a tribute to you?

“So,” he concludes, “I will not be agreeing to any of the three drafts you sent me, because it seems to me hypocritical of you to ask me to sign it, and even more hypocritical for me to do so.”

Frank issue

The question of homosexuality has been far from private in the public life of Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who is currently seeking a 13th term in Congress. And never before has it played such a controversial role in the congressman’s re-election.

His Republican opponent, Chuck Morse, not surprisingly announced yesterday that, if elected, he will support legislation under consideration in Congress stating:

“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

Mr. Morse’s pledge follows anguished debate in the Massachusetts legislature over a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage,” and diverse amendments to create civil unions conferring select benefits on same-sex couples.

His state’s constitutional convention reconvenes March 11.

“The need for a federal law governing all of America has never been so clear,” says Mr. Morse. “Protecting marriage as a heterosexual institution is the key issue, and one which the vast majority of Americans regard as absolutely fundamental to their beliefs.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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