- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Shooing horses

Despite effectively handling crowd management, lost children and threats of terrorism in a way officers in squad cars and on foot could not have, Congress has given the U.S. Capitol Police Mounted Unit — in existence for barely 14 months — the boot.

“I recall on the day of the London bombing, there was a suspicious package in front of Union Station and our mounted officer was the first one to arrive and take charge of the incident. From atop her horse, she had a complete vista of the area,” says Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who created the mounted unit.

“I’m disappointed,” he tells Inside the Beltway. “I wish I could have convinced Congress of their value. But the debate is over, and the barn door is open.”

Congressmen with enough clout argued that the force’s five horses are too expensive to feed during a time when the federal debt surpasses $7.8 trillion. Still, the entire unit’s operating costs in 2004 — horses and officers alike — stood at only $114,000. There had been a request of $145,000 in the 2006 budget.

Now, unlike canine officers, who are given the option of keeping their dogs when they are retired, six mounted officers on Capitol Hill were told to say goodbye to their horses.

“You bet they’re upset,” one police insider said yesterday. “You become close to a horse when it’s your partner, and it takes care of you — and you, it — on a daily basis. Now, suddenly, they are told they have 60 days to give these horses to the Park Police. How would you feel?”

“I told [U.S. Park Police] Chief Dwight Pettiford that our loss is his gain,” Chief Gainer agreed.

“You know something else,” the chief says. “In this day and age, because of the threat environment we live in, 9 million visitors to this campus each year see our officers carrying heavy weapons, driving around in assault vehicles, barricades set up everywhere.

“I like to think what a nice juxtaposition it has been for our visitors to see a man and a woman up on a horse. Doesn’t it present a calmer image? And we needed that. But my vision wasn’t this Congress’ vision.”

Bush clone

One day after bypassing Congress and appointing the outspoken John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, President Bush happily traded the heat and humidity of Washington for the heat and humidity of his Texas ranch.

And what does the traveling White House press corps think about Mr. Bush’s appointment?

“In fact,” one reporter observed to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, “what a lot of people accuse Bolton of is being a hard-charging guy — abrasive, abusive. I mean, some of his critics have used all of these words.

“Even [U.N. Secretary-General] Kofi Annan saying essentially, ‘Hey, take it easy up here. It’s good to push, but you’ve got to work with other ambassadors.’ Is that, in fact, exactly what [President Bush] is looking for?”

Replied Mr. McClellan: “Ambassador Bolton is someone who has sometimes used a blunt style, but … that’s exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations during this time of war and time of reform. And that’s why the president nominated him to be the ambassador.”

Injected the reporter: “And the president is a pretty plain-spoken guy, as well, so why don’t we be — why don’t you be — a little bit more blunt here?”

Spreading fiction

These hot, hazy, lazy days of summer invoke in the mind of one politician the writings of Mark Twain.

“Mark Twain famously said that one of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives,” recalls Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat.

“Conspiracy theories tend to have a life of their own,” he says. “They can never be disproved. If there is no evidence supporting the conspiracy, then it is proof of a cover-up. If there is evidence proving there was no conspiracy, that is also proof of a cover-up.

“Either way, evidence disproving a conspiracy theory only proves to believers that the conspiracy really exists.”

Gentle giant

We’ve learned that Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame — not basketball, but the National Bar Association — Friday during its annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

It’s worth noting that, among other honors, Mr. Olender recently received the Bar Association of the District of Columbia’s Belfiori Quality of Life Award for running a malpractice firm that is kinder and gentler to its employees — even as it clobbers careless doctors.

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

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