- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

Traditionalists

“She would be with me, but I told her to fire up the grill.”

President Bush, during a quick Independence Day visit to West Virginia, referring to first lady Laura Bush.

Pair of cakes

President Bush yesterday not only celebrated the nation’s 231st birthday with his close friends and family, including his parents, former President George Bush and former first lady BarbaraBush, and his twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, but White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said he took the opportunity of everybody being present to celebrate his own 61st birthday — two days early.

On his big birthday last year, Mr. Bush said 60 once seemed old when he was 30, but now that he has reached this point of his life, he “feels young.”

Light the incense

Fluids floating around the confines of space capsules have always presented a problem for astronauts.

So astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams kept busy during her recent six months aboard the International Space Station by conducting an experiment on how to manage various fluids.

“I call it the ‘lava lamp’ experiment because some of the fluid is pink, and we hang out watching it with video and pictures,” she wrote in her mission log. “If only we had a black light.”

No leaders?

Helen Thomas, the so-called dean of the White House press corps, who is proud to be of Arab descent, can’t seem to find a politician to properly handle the Middle East — if any American leader is capable.

Before we get to her latest disappointment with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, let’s recall the outspoken Hearst newspaper columnist’s testy exchange last July with White House press secretary Tony Snow, when she accused President Bush of “collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine.”

“And this is what’s happening, and that’s the perception of the United States,” she insisted.

“Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view,” Mr. Snow replied curtly.

Then, two weeks ago, Miss Thomas opined in a column that the Middle East hornets” nest the Bush White House flew into is “due to its inept policies in Iraq and Palestine.”

“And as the president continues to muddle along, Congress and the American people remain incredibly mute. … The critical time for many people is 2009, when a new president may come to the rescue.”

The key word carefully inserted by Miss Thomas being “may.”

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has great political skills, but her war-and-peace compass leaves something to be desired,” she now critiques in a subsequent column on the New York Democrat. “Clinton has blown hot and cold on Middle East issues, including Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. She is at best pragmatic.

“Principles? Well, that’s another story,” Miss Thomas adds. “Before and during her early years in the White House, she supported Palestinian statehood, but she apparently forgot this after successfully running for senator from New York as a Democrat.

“The rest is history. She obviously had to cater to a new constituency, make the ritual trip to Israel and forget any sympathy she once had for the Palestinians. But is her 180-degree flip-flop on that festering issue a portent of her leadership if she attains the White House?”

Down to one?

“I tend to read The [Washington] Times during a period of quiet contemplation,” writes Wayne Hembree of Bowie. “The idea of the book titled ‘Chicken Soup for the Democrat’s Soul’ was very interesting. However, your confirmation that there will be equal opportunity for a Republican book probably misstated the title. The title more likely will be ‘Chicken Soup for the Sole Republican.” ”

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

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