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Inside the Beltway: Rarefied revels of OSS

- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2013

There is an authentic intensity about the annual OSS Society awards dinner, an autumnal rite that celebrates the Office of Strategic Services — OSS — the agency created during World War II by Army Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan that was the predecessor of the CIA. The time has come again. Hundreds of those who laud the OSS mission of "silent, unending work of keeping America safe" will don their spotless mess dress uniforms and gather Saturday evening in the nation's capital, called to honor Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

The weightiness of the guest list is, well, overwhelming. The speechifying and tributes are noble. The official party favor — an elegant martini glass — is perfectly swell. There will be a musical tribute to chanteuse Marlene Dietrich, who recorded a series of anti-Nazi tunes back in the day. Guests, incidentally, will tuck into a meal inspired by classic chef Julia Child, who served as an OSS research assistant in 1944. The menu includes salad Nicoise tricked out with tuna, anchovies and haricots verts; beef Bordelaise; potatoes embellished with bacon and pearl onions and an old school Baba Rhum for dessert.

Most important, however, is the presence of the precious few OSS officers themselves, some now in their ninth decade.

"There is a great difference between those who entered the OSS and those entering the special operation forces today. The results are the same. Yesterday's glorious amateurs have become today's quiet professionals," retired Army Major Gen. Victor J. Hugo tells the Beltway.

CRUZ VIEWING

Programming of note, this from C-SPAN's indefatigable and ongoing "Road to the White House '16" series. The public affairs channel has chosen to trail Sen. Ted Cruz, who may or may not be on this particular road. We shall see. C-SPAN will broadcast the Texas Republican's remarks at the Iowa Republican Party's annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday at 8 p.m. EDT.

Also on the dais: Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. The event will be featured on C-SPAN, C-SPAN Radio and online at C-SPAN.org.

DEMOCRATS TO GROOM A 'LEFT-WING' CRUZ?

"It is time to admit that Ted Cruz is not as craven as he seems. A fraud, a wacko bird, a fool, an amateur, Jim DeMint without the charm — yes, all the names his fellow Republicans are calling the senator from Texas bear the sting of truth. But you have to give the man this: he has the courage of his convictions and the nerve to use a diversity of tactics to advance them," points out Richard Kim, executive editor of The Nation in an analysis of the Texas Republican.

Mr. Kim expects more efforts by the GOP to further discredit Obamacare.

"Democrats should, of course, push back against the GOP's lies and sabotage, but is it too much to ask that at least one Democrat in Congress use this occasion to make the obvious point that a single-payer system would have been simpler and better? I know what a left-wing version of Ted Cruz would do," Mr. Kim later concludes.

THE ASHTRAY FACTOR

Though Republicans may be tempted to wring their hands over the upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections, it's not all bad news, counsels R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., editor in chief of the American Spectator.

"We have firm control of the House, and a good shot at the Senate next year. We have 54 percent of the state legislatures and 60 percent of the governors' mansions. Finally, we are poised to take the White House in 2016 with appealing candidates ranging from New Jersey to Wisconsin, from Florida to Texas, all of them smart, experienced, principled, articulate and even telegenic," Mr. Tyrrell recently told attendees at the publication's annual Robert L. Bartley Dinner.

"Who are the liberals' candidates? So far, there are just two. There's good old Joe Biden, with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. He would be my candidate for bartender at the New York Athletic Club, very, very affable but not for president. As vice president he committed so many amusing gaffes that he inspired in me a new word, 'gaffable.' Our gaffable vice president has been described by Roger Ailes as being 'dumb as an ashtray' — a memorable comparison," Mr. Tyrrell continued.

"Then there is Hillary Clinton. When last she left the White House the polls indicated that she was the most unpopular first lady in history. Next to Hillary, Mrs. Warren Harding was pulchritudinous and agreeable. Facts are facts. Yet in 2008 her friends in the media made Hillary the inevitable nominee until the Democrats had another candidate," the editor declared.

"Now she is again the inevitable nominee. Yet the pollsters are still polling and most recently the Rasmussen Poll found her the least desirable Democratic candidate. She even out-polled Joe Biden. Presented with the choice of Hillary or Joe, the voters chose an ashtray."

SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES

All that pesky Obamacare turmoil must be on the mend, or on hold , or something — so why not fire up Air Force One? Here comes eight assorted Democratic fundraisers in six weeks. Beginning Friday, President Obama journeys to New York, followed by a trips to Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas in the immediate future.

Consider that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alone has raised $58 million so far this year, while Organizing for America — the grass-roots group that grew out of Mr. Obama's 2012 presidential campaign — has raised $21 million.

Also consider that 2014 dawns in just over nine weeks.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: Historic 1868 American Gothic mansion in Garrison, N.Y. Eight bedrooms, six baths, 7,800 square feet, located on 19 acres. Designed by Alexander Jackson Davis for Edwards Pierrepont, attorney general during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Includes two garret rooms, billiard room, screening room, wine cellar, keyhole staircase, four fireplaces, multiple pantries and sitting rooms, sun room, pool, pool house, three-car garage. Many amenities, fully restored. $7.5 million. Information through Mccaffreyrealty.com

POLL DU JOUR

77 percent of U.S. voters say term limits should be established in Congress; 83 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

72 percent overall are ready to vote their lawmakers out of office for "a fresh start in Washington;" 75 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

64 percent overall would consider voting for a third party candidate in the next election; 69 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

62 percent overall would "fire every lawmaker on Capitol Hill right now;" 69 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

55 percent overall say the "two-party system is broken"; 55 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

54 percent overall say both the Republican and Democratic parties are "too extreme"; 55 percent of Republican and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News survey of 1,020 registered U.S. voters.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com

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