Indicators that an OSS Society event is under way: the official party favor is an elegant martini glass, strolling violinists play "The Ballad of the Green Berets" and multiple conversations begin with such phrases as "General, I haven't seen you since Afghanistan." That was the case Saturday evening when hundreds of celebrants gathered in the name of "OSS" — the Office of Strategic Services, the agency created during World War II by Army Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan that was the predecessor of the CIA. A certain authentic intensity pervaded the revels, staged at a glittering hotel not six blocks from the White House and unsullied by the usual trite taint of insider politics and media.
This was the proverbial real deal, with guests that included former OSS officers who set the standards for the "silent, unending work of keeping America safe" over six decades ago, as described by former CIA director and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, himself honored with the Donovan Award, the society's highest honor for public service to the nation as a citizen and soldier. George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta were among those who sent video tributes.
"In this city, to get this kind of praise you have to be dead. And I don't have any lily in my hand," a mirthful Mr. Gates told his audience. And what an audience: a veritable battalion of top military brass, active duty folks, wounded warriors, veterans, former clandestine and special ops officers.
On hand for the awards — not to mention multiple toasts with the aforementioned glass that held a perfect martini and two speared olives at every place setting — retired Admirals Eric T. Olson and Mike Mullen, CIA Director David H. Petraeus, Army Gen. John F. Mulholland and as master of ceremonies retired Army Major Gen. Victor Hugo Jr. The menu included crab salad, beef tenderloin and a trio of petite desserts; guests received a miniature Donovan Award medallion, plus a lapel pin with the insignia of the OSS created by Walt Disney in another era: a furious Donald Duck smashing toy Nazi soldiers, tanks and trains with a hammer.
"It is reproduced with permission and without any association or sponsorship by Disney Enterprises, Inc." read an accompanying disclaimer. The audience sat, rapt, for well over four hours, until the program ended and the powerful gathered in cheerful groups to talk shop or reminisce.
"We must not return to the pre-9/11 status quo," Mr. Gates said in summation, later adding, "May God bless the unsung heroes."
FROM THE ROMNEY CAMP
"Ann Romney's events Monday will be canceled due to the concern for the well-being of residents in the path of Hurricane Sandy. The Romney campaign's bus will be used for relief efforts throughout the East Coast."
- (From Republican National Committee spokesman Tommy Schultz).
WINDY TO WINDY CITY
She goes from windy city to Windy City:
As of Sunday evening, the White House reveals that first lady Michelle Obama's schedule calls for her to depart Washington for Chicago, then journey to Iowa City and Sioux City, Iowa, for a pair of grass-roots campaign rallies on Monday. Then it turns windy again. Mrs. Obama returns to Chicago, and will remain there overnight.
GARY AND JILL
The sound of the ticking election clock may drive the major presidential campaigns to distraction as the days ebb away. But the third party folks are busy going about their business. Libertarian Gary Johnson faces rival Jill Stein of the Green Party for their second prime-time debate on Nov. 5, organized by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation and aired live from the Washington broadcast studios of cable network Russia Today, otherwise known as "RT."
The Russians are enthused, though, and cite such headlines as "Kremlin's TV Seeks to Overcome U.S. 'Information Blockade'," which appeared in The Wall Street Journal after the initial third party debate last week, only carried by RT, Al-Jazeera and C-SPAN.
"After the first round we received enormous feedback from our U.S. audience," says RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.
A STALL TACTIC
"We continue to learn more about the incident in Benghazi, yet we hear no response or explanation from President Obama. I remember the University of North Carolina basketball team, under coach Dean Smith, used a tactic called, 'four corners.' It was a stall tactic implemented, particularly in the second half, since there was no shot clock to run down the clock," observes Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Republican, in a message to his local fans.
"It is evident by his appearances on those really tough media outlets like Inside Edition, Daily Show, Late Night, Tonight Show, and MTV that President Obama, a basketball enthusiast, learned about using the four corners. But there's one difference. The president's team has no lead on the scoreboard, and the American people have the ball. The only question is, will they slam dunk?"
POLL DU JOUR
• 77 percent of Americans say the religion of President Obama or Mitt Romney has "no effect" on whether they would vote for either candidate.
• 67 percent of Americans know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, 26 percent do not know his faith, 2 percent say he is Protestant.
• 2 percent say Mr. Romney is Catholic, 2 percent refused or did not answer the question, 1 percent say he is "of some other religion."
• 35 percent say President Obama has "no religion," 28 percent refused or did nor answer the question, 28 percent say he is Protestant and 18 percent say the president is Jewish.
• 10 percent say Mr. Obama is Muslim, 5 percent say he is Catholic, 2 percent say he is of "some other religion," 2 percent don't know.
• 49 percent say President Obama was born in the U.S., 39 percent say he was born "in another country" and 12 percent refused or did not answer the question.
Source: An Associated Press survey of 1,071 U.S. adults conduced Aug. 30 to Sept. 11 and released Friday.
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