- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

Greetings, salutations

Inside the Beltway has a new steward today, and that’s me — the third person in history to write the column. It is an honor, punctuated with noisy salutes to John McCaslin, who had been our Beltway man since 1846. No wait. Maybe it was more like 1992.

Hurray for ye, Johnny. Yee-haw. And thanks. John is now a bona fide radio god, co-hosting this newspaper’s “America’s Morning News” radio show with the very splendid Melanie Morgan.

But it is already time to hit the road.

Beltway Land is complicated territory, with much hubbub along high roads and low roads alike. There are dangerous intersections, potholes, hitchhikers. Expect to rubberneck; sometimes we may have to make a quick getaway. And yes, we can stop if anyone feels queasy.

For all its noble posturing, politics is still subject to the siren calls of power, wealth, ego and, well, sirens. Consider that despite his mea culpas, wags are currently billing a certain South Carolina governor as Sanford (R-Gentine).

The 24/7 press is often all dressed up with nowhere to go, meanwhile. Journalists classify Palin Bashing as sport, but they’re also on Obama Sweat Watch. Will mom jeans or health care reform mar the president’s arctic demeanor? Stay tuned.

There are still heroes out there, I say. Despite partisan caterwaul, our nation retains optimism, courage, patriotism and good cheer that lends a glow to the landscape. And in the end, our collective inner mettle will prevail.

“America will be saved by the American people,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells me. “That is how it was in the Revolutionary War, the constitutional process and the Civil War. In the end, it is up to the people.”

And with that thought, a new Beltway journey begins.

Combat ready

He-man politicians are alive and well and living in Arizona.

“Send a Warrior to Congress” is the official motto of Jesse Kelly, a Republican hopeful in Tucson endorsed by former presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter, Rep. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia and other Republican lawmakers.

Jesse is not kidding. The now-retired U.S. Marine led a squad of leathernecks during Operation Iraqi Freedom before being honorably discharged in 2004. He is also 6-feet-8-inches, and his sidearm of choice is a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, he says. With hollow-point bullets.

But that motto.

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