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Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

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Clinton cast

An Inside the Beltway review of contributions from upscale Washington ZIP codes to the presidential campaign of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton reads like a Who's Who of former Clinton White House officials.

Signing one or more sizable checks to Mrs. Clinton's campaign recently were former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, former AgricultureSecretary Dan Glickman, former White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty III, former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes.

Sinless day

"No news was committed" — or so reads one White House pool report tracking this week's official duties of President Bush.

Hill sex-ed

Apparently most congressional interns don't match the "over-sexed Washingtonienne" stereotype that is common in the news media — or so Inside the Beltway gathers from yesterday's fifth annual Campus Sex and Dating Conference held on Capitol Hill.

Questions posed to "Dr. Drew" Pinsky at the Rayburn House Office Building lunchtime conference, sponsored by the Independent Women's Forum, revealed an earnest interest in discussing the attitudes that lie behind the prevalent college hook-up culture.

While moderating a lively discussion of male and female views on sex, Dr. Pinsky addressed many themes common to his radio program, "Loveline,"including commitment anxiety, self-esteem and the role of emotional instinct in relationships.

In assessing trends on college campuses, Dr. Pinsky noted that both men and women are currently "unhinged from previous biological constrictions," like the constant threat of pregnancy, disease or even death.

He described the college social environment as "unnaturally intense," as it gives women three basic options: to engage in an "intoxicated physical encounter with no commitment" (a hook-up), to begin a "joined at the hip" relationship or to agree to a "friends with benefits" arrangement. The women in the audience agreed that none of these options is ideal.

While leaving the larger moral and cultural implications up for consideration, Dr. Pinsky advocated personal responsibility, integrity and most importantly, an openness for dialogue.

"It is my deepest instinct that someone needs to sit down and talk about these things," he said yesterday.

Child cesspool

It would appear that 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney jumped on the environmental bandwagon with his newest television ad yesterday, titled "Ocean."

In the ad, which airs in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the former Massachusetts governor says Americans must clean up "the ocean in which our children now swim."

Actually, instead of water pollution, he is referring to the troubling culture that surrounds America's children today.

"Following the Columbine shootings, [former Reaganite] Peggy Noonan described our world as 'the ocean in which our children now swim,' " Mr. Romney explains in the ad. "She describes a cesspool of violence, and sex, and drugs, and indolence, and perversions."

Empty Souter?

As president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, former Senate Judiciary Committee Counsel Ed Whelan, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, regularly examines judicial milestones from a "this week in history" perspective.

It was 17 years ago this week, he points out for example, that nearly 34 years of "liberal judicial activism" on the Supreme Court ended when Justice William J. BrennanJr. announced his retirement.

As ABC News legal correspondent and author Jan CrawfordGreenburg described it: "For conservatives, Brennan's retirement gave the first President Bush the chance of a lifetime," a "rare moment when a conservative president was positioned to replace a liberal giant," and it "would give conservatives a dramatic opportunity to cement their majority and firmly take ideological control of the Court."

But, she added, "the president did not want the kind of bruising fight over the Supreme Court that Ronald Reagan was willing to endure."

As it was, Mr. Bush quickly nominated the now mostly liberal voting David H. Souter to fill Justice Brennan's seat.

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washington times.com.

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