- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008

Self-service

“Oh, terrific. Now we have two of them — two presidential candidates, presumptive nominees of their respective parties, who insist they will not rest until they have inspired all of us stick-in-the-mud Americans to reach celestial heights of personal fulfillment by committing ourselves to a life of service. Service to what? Service to … something or other,” Andrew Ferguson writes in the Weekly Standard.

“The phrase that both John McCain and Barack Obama use is a ‘cause higher than yourself’ or ‘greater than self’ or alternatively a ‘cause greater than your own self-interest.’ Whatever the precise wording — for now, let’s just use an unpronounceable acronym, CGTYOSI — we’ll be hearing it a lot till November.”

Mr. Ferguson added: “For now, of course, each of the two men, McCain and Obama, points to himself as an exemplar of service — even as he avoids his family, neglects his job, and hands his everyday obligations over to poorly paid subordinates, all so he can fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming the most powerful and celebrated man in the world. What do you know: They think their self-interest is a cause greater than their self-interest. Funny how that happens.”

No joke

Comedian Bernie Mac endured some heckling and a campaign rebuke during a surprise appearance Friday night in Chicago at a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the 50-year-old star of “The Bernie Mac Show” joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language, the Associated Press reports.

“My little nephew came to me and he said, ‘Uncle, what’s the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?’” Mr. Mac said. “I said, I don’t know, but I said, ‘Go upstairs and ask your mother if she’d make love to the mailman for $50,000.’”

As the joke continued, the punchline evoked an angry response from at least one person in the audience, who said it was offensive to women.

“It’s not funny. Let’s get Barack on,” a man shouted from the crowd, which paid $2,300 each to support the senator from Illinois.

About 15 minutes later, Mr. Obama tried to smooth things over with a joke of his own.

“We can’t afford to be divided by race. We can’t afford to be divided by region or by class and we can’t afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you’ve got to clean up your act next time,” Mr. Obama said. “This is a family affair. By the way, I’m just messing with you, man.”

The incident drew a response from Mr. Obama’s campaign, which criticized Mr. Mac for his choice of material.

“Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn’t condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Old school

“The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s very crude comment about Barack Obama breached a psychological levee in black America,” Kevin Powell writes in the New York Post.

“Yes, the remark was whispered, picked up when the Rev. Jackson didn’t know his mic was live, but it was said nonetheless. And we know this is not the first time that Rev. Jackson has made a snide remark about Obama. I do not want to pretend to be inside the mind of Rev. Jackson, or any other black political leader, but it has become evident to me, as a longtime community organizer, and as a current Democratic candidate for Congress, that Obama’s campaign has brought the Civil Rights generation’s chickens home to roost, finally. …

“Frustrated and feeling powerless, some old school leaders have taken to chastising younger ones every opportunity they get. This, to me, is the crux of the issue over Jackson’s comments, and the reason why so many black politicians in New York City chose to support Hillary Clinton over Obama. It was not just a black thing. It was a generational thing. A lack of political and moral courage thing. My opponent in Brooklyn, the 74-year-old Ed Towns, steadfastly supported Sen. Clinton, even as nearly 60 percent of our Congressional district voted overwhelmingly for Obama back in February.”

McCain’s cell

“In what could be a blockbuster boost for Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid, a historical documentary filmmaker is opening up her archive that includes the last pictures taken of the Hanoi Hilton, the Navy pilot’s POW cell, and his emotional reaction when shown those pictures,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

“‘It gives you some insight into the man,’ says filmmaker Debra Watkins. She tells us that cable news networks are going all out for the material, shot in 1993 and 1994. What sparked her interest? ‘A light went off in my head,’ Watkins says, after she read back then that the Vietnamese planned to bulldoze the Hanoi Hilton. After getting permission to visit, she filmed the prison and taped interviews with other former POWs. But the project was shelved because of a string of illnesses.

“Watkins says after seeing new reports questioning McCain’s POW story, she dusted off her 31 hours of unedited material and is shopping it around. As for McCain’s cell, she found it as he left it: dirty, wet, dank. ‘The leg irons were still there. It looked like a tomb.’”

Hughes’ job

Karen P. Hughes, who served as a top aide to President Bush, has taken a senior executive position at the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm, where her boss, Mark Penn, most recently was a top strategist and adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Mrs. Hughes, 51, started Wednesday at the firm’s small office in downtown Austin, Texas, where she will be based for her job as global vice chairwoman of the public relations company, according to the American-Statesman newspaper in Austin.

She said she looks forward to helping to shape communications strategies for corporate clients as she did in the White House, where she ran the communications office in 2001 and 2002.

“Mark’s vision is to put together a bipartisan brain trust of sorts at the top of the company to work with a variety of business and government entities on business issues and public education campaigns,” Mrs. Hughes said. “I am someone who likes challenges, and this is a new challenge I am very much looking forward to in this stage of my career. I’ve got lots of years to go.”

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

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