- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

Thousands strong

There was hardly a dry eye in the large platoon of aging troops who deployed one last time to dedicate a long-overdue National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington.

Standing tall and proud among this “greatest generation,” as these surviving soldiers have come to be called — his late father’s military dog-tags around his neck — was Washington columnist Cal Thomas.

“He couldn’t be here, so I came to honor him,” explained Mr. Thomas, whose syndicated column appears in The Washington Times. “My Dad, Clinton S. Thomas, was a tech sergeant in the Army. He was one of five brothers who fought in World War II — three in Europe, two in the Pacific. All survived and came home.”

Sgt. Thomas died in 1983.

Still chiseling

Vietnam-era veterans and their families will be on hand for today’s annual Memorial Day observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge will deliver the keynote address — including a few words about this country’s latest war on terrorism.

Meanwhile, the names of 10 servicemen recently inscribed on the Wall will become “official” war casualties when their names are read aloud at the 1 p.m. ceremony. The new inscriptions bring the number of names on the Wall to 58,245.

Also speaking today will be retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Catholic archbishop of Washington.

All gas

“While I did not hold high hopes for the Bush administration in general, I certainly thought that with two former oil executives running the country, the one thing they could get right would be the supply of affordable gasoline.”

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, referring to former Texas oil men GeorgeW. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Bad secret?

Republicans say Democrats are trying to get out in front of the “worst-kept secret” in Washington — the latter party’s actual prospects for retaking the Senate this fall.

“The Senate Democrats are realizing it’s a lot easier to talk about winning than actually doing it,” says Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

As they say in Las Vegas, it’s a matter of odds.

“To win a clear majority, Senate Democrats would have us believe they are going to win eight out of the 10 competitive races, even though a majority of those states are solid Republican states [in which] President Bush will run very strong,” says Mr. Allen.

Because the Republican Party seems to be betting its candidates will ride Mr. Bush’s coattails into office, Democrats are quick to cite polls showing public support for the president is “eroding” on a daily basis.

Kerryisms

Ever since 2000, Slate has poked fun at George W. Bush for his “torture” of the English language, saying its “Bushisms” collection “captures the president’s ignorance, incuriosity, laziness and thoughtlessness expressed in frequent gaffes.”

Democrats, meanwhile, say they have a candidate who speaks more clearly than Mr. Bush.

Does he?

“Now that Democrats have settled on a presumptive presidential nominee,” Slate’s editors write, “it’s time to cast a cold eye on the pomposity and evasiveness of John Kerry.”

They even explain “how to read a Kerryism,” presenting one new caveat each day (or until such time the likely Democratic presidential nominee stops trying to explain his policies).

A few of our favorite Kerryisms:

• “I would never reduce the happiness of any two people. I’ve been to a commitment ceremony.” (when asked whether he would attend a homosexual “wedding” if invited by someone close to him).

• “Even the generals in Iraq said the money in that bill had no impact on their ability to continue to fight. We had money all the way, and you know that we would have sat down at a table, we [would] have worked out exactly how we were going to do this intelligently, and we would have had a better bill.” (when asked by NBC’s Tim Russert if he would vote a second time against a bill to provide additional money for U.S. troops).

• “I would be against that. I don’t think we need it. [The president ought to] reduce the overexposure of America’s commitments. A proper approach to the Korean Peninsula, for instance, should include the deployment of troops, the unresolved issues of the 1950s, and could result in a reduction of American presence.” (when asked whether the overextension of U.S. troops around the world will ultimately lead to the reinstitution of the draft).

• “I will not appoint somebody who’s about to undo Roe v. Wade. I’ve said that before. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be prepared to appoint somebody who has a different point of view. I’ve already voted for people like that. I voted for Judge [Antonin] Scalia.” (Self-explanatory, we think.)

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

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