- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Jesuit achievers

After analyzing PresidentBush’s pick of White House counsel — and non-judge — Harriet Miers to serve on the nation’s highest court, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert yesterday went to bat for the tuition-free Washington Jesuit Academy and its generous benefactors.

The academy provides boys from mostly “at-risk” backgrounds with a college-preparatory education, not to mention three balanced meals a day.

Mr. Russert, who addressed both students and their financial sponsors and mentors, is a product of eight years of education by the Jesuit order of Catholic priests, first at Buffalo’s Canisius High School in New York, and then at Cleveland’s John Carroll University.

Mr. Russert “spoke about his two schools and how they mirrored what we do at the academy on a daily basis, and how that helped set him on the course for where he is today,” says academy spokesman Brian Ray.

New member

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas will officially welcome former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri into their post-congressional club during a reception tomorrow evening at the Willard Hotel.

We say officially, because it’s been several months since the 64-year-old Mr. Gephardt, who stepped down from Capitol Hill in January, joined the Washington office of law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary as senior counsel. The office is headed by Mr. Mitchell, and also counts former Rep. Jennifer Dunn of Washington among its ranks.

Mr. Gephardt, who twice fell short in bids to become his party’s presidential nominee, has wasted little time wielding his influence and was hired by Boeing in recent weeks to advise the aerospace company on its dispute with striking machinists.

Suffice it to say, he’s been anxious to utilize his law degree, which he earned from the University of Michigan in 1965.

Declaration of Jehu?

Now on display for the next year in the National Archives Rotunda — right there alongside the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights — is the Declaration of Jehu Grant.

A slave in Narragansett, R.I., Grant’s master remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War. So what did Grant do? He not only escaped in August 1777, but for 10 months he fought with the Americans — that is, until his master tracked him down.

Some 60 years later, Grant applied for a pension from the U.S. government. But Uncle Sam told him he was not eligible, owing to his status as a “fugitive slave” at the time of his war service.

He responded with a statement of “poignant simplicity,” say the nation’s archivists, who deem the unusual pension request worthy of display next to the three Charters of Freedom.

Wrote Grant in his claim: “[W]hen I saw liberty poles and the people all engaged for the support of freedom, I could not but like and be pleased with such thing (God forgive me if sinned in so feeling).”

Scoping Wolf

Asked what’s the most dangerous day he’s had on the job, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer recalls 2002 when he was lined up to interview Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the West Bank.

“I was staying in Jerusalem,” Mr. Blitzer says in a Q&A; with the Ritz-Carlton magazine. “He was a night owl, and his aide called me and told me I needed to interview him the next day at midnight.”

As it was, Mr. Blitzer landed his interview, not departing the West Bank until 3 a.m.

“We’re in this armored car, and we got to an Israeli checkpoint,” he continues. “Now, in these armored cars, all the windows are kept closed and you can’t hear anything outside. We’re sitting there for the longest time, wondering what’s going on and, fortunately, our driver opened his door and got out.

“All of a sudden, lights were flashing and the Israeli guards were telling us to get out or they were going to blow up the car. They thought we were suicide bombers,” says Mr. Blitzer, who adds: “They told us that if we had sat in there for 30 more seconds, they’d have blown us up.”

Mailbag

One recent column item generating considerable intrigue, particularly among the golfing set, dealt with the day former President George Bush mistakenly ducked into a women’s restroom adjacent to the 5th hole of the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.

Mr. Bush’s foursome, including pro golfer Davis Love III and former Attorney General Griffin B. Bell, was laughing hysterically when the red-faced Mr. Bush later emerged.

“Given the speed at which George H.W. Bush is known to play golf, it’s intriguing he would even stop to use a restroom,” observes Ron Kurtz of Spring, Texas. “In fact, the best characterization of his game that I’ve ever read came from the late, great professional golfer, Dave Marr, who said President Bush ‘played golf like he was double parked.’”

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

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