- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2005

Half-empty

“Unfortunately, some Democratic leaders have been more interested in simply saying what they’re against than talking about what they’re for.”

Or so White House spokesman Scott McClellan opines when discussion turns to Congress and the White House needing to work in a “bipartisan” way to rescue Social Security. And while not referring specifically to retirement funds, Democratic strategist James Carville agrees Democrats don’t offer much with their rhetoric.

“The Republicans’ clarity of definition and strength in key areas — such as keeping America safe, respect for moral values, optimism, and looking to the future — has always allowed them to build a growing gap in standing with the public,” Mr. Carville writes in a memo with fellow Democracy Corps strategist Stanley Greenberg.

“While the gap is a function of what the Republicans are offering, it is mostly a function of what the Democrats are not.”

Clinton dynasty?

Unable to retake the White House, and deeply entrenched in the minority of Congress, Democrats are entertaining themselves with hypothetical races pitting the Bush family against the Clinton family.

(No, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.)

“As a start, the Clinton family defeats the Bush family on who should lead the country in the years ahead,” a Democracy Corps survey says.

As for individual family members, a race between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president in 2008 shows the Democrat winning by three points, 50 percent to 47 percent (Mrs. Clinton is said to be strong with young voters, white women and unmarried women.)

“We also invited people to imagine a constitutional amendment allowing both President Bush and former President Clinton to run, unfettered by term limits. In that race, Bill Clinton defeats George Bush by five points, 51 to 46 percent,” the survey says.

Licking Arnold

Inside the Beltway appreciates the Austrian reader who snail-mailed us word that Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat and president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), appointed the president of the Belgian Senate, Anne Marie Lizin, as his special representative to investigate the fate of prisoners being detained by the United States at Guantanamo.

The OSCE, at a previous annual session, adopted a resolution deploring “the fate and the treatment of the persons, including minors, being held … as ‘unlawful combatants’ and not as either ‘prisoners of war’ in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention and with the right of such persons or as criminals with the rights pertaining to that status.”

But back to the correspondence from our reader in Austria, what intrigues us is the colorful Austrian postage stamp affixed to the envelope — featuring the likeness of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a naturalized U.S. citizen who emigrated from Austria in 1968 to pursue acting and bodybuilding.

Shortly after it went on sale last year, requests for the $1.20 stamp flooded the nation’s postal headquarters in Vienna. So, as many as 75,000 of the stamps were set aside for collectors around the world and within days they were trading on EBay for as much as $9.99 each.

The stamp features Mr. Schwarzenegger in a suit and tie, with American and Austrian flags in the background.

April Fools’

Will Rogers once said: “We are all here for a spell; get all the laughs you can.”

So what better day than today for the National Press Club and the Hotline to present “Fear and Loathing at the Press Club: April Fools’ Day in the Nation’s Capital,” featuring among the funny folks political satirist Will Durst, Vanity Fair’s Christopher Hitchens, David Corn of the Nation, and Fox News White House correspondent James Rosen.

The evening organized by the Will Rogers Washington Comedy Foundation also features a special tribute by friends, peers, colleagues and “troublemakers” to the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson.

Rhubarb fool

That’s our own David Guas, executive pastry chef of DC Coast and Ceiba restaurants, scheduled for a repeat performance this April Fools’ morning on NBC’s “The Today Show.”

The chef’s desserts feature rhubarb as their main ingredient in celebration of the arrival of spring, and this being April 1 we’re told Mr. Guas will teach viewers how to make a traditional “rhubarb fool.”

In memory

Our community’s pillars once stood

Tall and proud when they did what they should!

Doctors strive now to kill,

Judges do what they will,

And police are arresting the good.

F.R. Duplantier

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

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