- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Changing his tune

President Bush, who last week said the national anthem should be sung only in English, apparently hasn’t always thought so.

Jon Secada sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in both English and Spanish during the 2001 presidential inauguration ceremonies, according to a Cox News Service report at the time. And in his book “American Dynasty,” Kevin Phillips wrote that Mr. Bush himself used to join in the Spanish version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at stops at Hispanic festivals in major cities during the 2000 presidential campaign.

The reports were posted on ThinkProgress.org, a liberal blog, yesterday.

Asked about Mr. Phillips’ account yesterday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said he didn’t remember if Mr. Bush sang the anthem in Spanish. “I don’t recall that, and I’m not going to try to speculate on something I haven’t looked into,” he said.

On Friday, asked about reports of a new version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” written in Spanish and with some new words, Mr. Bush said the anthem “ought to be sung in English.”

“I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English,” he said at a press conference.

‘Radical lunatics’

“Thanks a lot, amigos,” New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

“The organizers of [Monday’s] ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ who are also responsible for other recent demonstrations demanding special treatment for illegal aliens, have betrayed not only the people they claim to be helping, but everyone else who is trying to find a rational and civil answer to an incredibly complex issue,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

“With their psychotically provocative behavior, these radical lunatics of the Left are moving the ideological goalposts of this debate toward the restrictionist Right. Unless they wise up, by the time they’re through, every politician in this country outside the inner cities will be paying lip service at the very least to a serious crackdown on illegal immigration.”

“Even before [Monday’s] shameful frolics, Hillary [Rodham] Clinton had begun talking about building a border fence — where, back in March, she was taking a soft line, complaining about Republican legislation in shockingly grand terms and comparing illegal immigrants to Jesus Christ. With her finger stuck way high up in the air to feel the distant breezes of 2008, Hillary realized that the air currents were changing.”

Cheney’s image

Vice President Dick Cheney said he knows he has a poor public image, but doesn’t see the need to spend time improving it.

In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine released yesterday, he also said he has no doubts the United States did “what needed to be done” in Iraq, and he rejected the caricature of him as the power behind the throne, Reuters news agency reports.

“I think we have created a system that works for this president and for me, in terms of my ability to be able to contribute and participate in the process,” he said.

“My image might be better out there … if I spent more time as a public figure trying to improve my image, but that’s not why I’m here,” Mr. Cheney said.

Primary roundup

Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell won the Republican nomination for Ohio governor yesterday after campaigning as the best candidate to deliver his party from a year of political scandals and infighting.

With more than half of precincts reporting, Mr. Blackwell had 257,531 votes, or 55 percent, compared with 208,481, or 45 percent, for Attorney General Jim Petro, according to the Associated Press. The gubernatorial primary was seen as a test of voter dissatisfaction that could foreshadow Republican prospects in November.

He will face Rep. Ted Strickland, who handily defeated former state Rep. Bryan Flannery for the Democrat nomination. With 60 percent of precincts reporting, he had 331,823 votes, or 78 percent.

Two other states also held primaries yesterday, including North Carolina, where the district attorney prosecuting the Duke University rape case fought off two challengers, and Indiana, where congressional incumbents easily won their party nominations.

Mr. Blackwell, the first black candidate to win a major-party nomination for governor in Ohio, sought to taint Mr. Petro with connections to the state’s investment in rare coins that went awry and to tie him to Gov. Bob Taft, who pleaded no contest to four ethics violations last year involving a failure to report free golf outings and gifts.

Playing nice

Actress Susan Sarandon, a strong critic of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s stance on the Iraq war, offered nothing but praise for her yesterday as the two women teamed up to promote the late Christopher Reeve’s battle for spinal-cord research.

The joint effort lacked the camaraderie of Miss Sarandon’s friends flick “Thelma & Louise,” but the actress did refrain from taking any new shots at the senator, the Associated Press reports.

“I don’t really want to make it about her. I don’t think she’s a bad person,” Miss Sarandon said before taking the stage at a rally in the nation’s capital for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which is pushing Congress to pass legislation named after the “Superman” actor.

The rally was as much a tribute to Mr. Reeve’s wife, Dana Reeve, who died in March of lung cancer, a year and a half after the death of her husband. Miss Sarandon said she wants to keep alive her friend’s campaign for increased research, including on stem cells.

The actress offered a warm introduction for Mrs. Clinton, considered an early front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, saying: “We are all very lucky to have her here today as a leader in Congress.”

A ‘serious blight’

The approaching World Cup soccer festival in Germany is provoking cries of outrage on Capitol Hill from conservatives who say thousands of women will be trafficked into the area to provide sex to visitors.

“The sad and disturbing news is that the German government currently is facilitating prostitution and, we believe, what will be a very significant influx of trafficked women who will be exploited,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican. He chairs the House International Relations human rights subcommittee and plans to hold a hearing on the topic tomorrow.

The World Cup begins June 9 and will last about a month.

Mr. Smith said there are many estimates as to how many women — likely from Eastern and Central Europe — will be brought in to accommodate the influx of visitors, but that the most commonly accepted number is 40,000. He said Germany’s legal sex industry is preparing for the event, Germans are facilitating the construction of extra brothels and “sex huts,” and cities hosting the games will issue special permits for street prostitution.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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