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Inside the Beltway: Rare breed — lawmakers who are military vets
Question of the Day
They are a rare breed — and a precious one. There are currently 108 members of Congress who are military veterans: 88 in the House, 18 in the Senate. Between them, these Capitol Hill vets have fought in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan Iraq and Kosovo and also served in peacetime. Now comes a noteworthy salute to this special group, staged a mere block from the U.S. Capitol itself.
Among the attendees at a Capitol Hill Club reception on Wednesday, May 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Ted Cruz, Reps. Michele Bachmann, Mike Coffman, Michael Conaway, Bill Flores, Tim Griffin, Ralph Hall, — who served as a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier pilot from 1942 to 1945 — Joe Heck, Sam Johnson, Cynthia Lummis, Kenny Marchant, Michael McCaul, Randy Weber, Roger Williams and Don Young.
Mr. Coffman, who represents Colorado’s 6th District, tells Inside the Beltway that voters value what veterans bring to the table in Congress.
“I think they do have an edge, and in several ways. They get things done. They’re used to working on a team to accomplish a mission,” he says.
Mr. Coffman himself served as a U.S. Army infantryman and also a U.S. Marine Corps officer.
Vets, he observes, “have a clear understanding of military and veterans’ issues and the stresses and challenges of military life, in a way those who have never worn the uniform are hard-pressed to understand. I think our insight rubs off. Those who served are capable of talking to colleagues in a productive way, and in many cases, veterans’ concerns emerge among the most bipartisan issues we address.”
The occasion offers some august ambience, including the presentation of the flag by the Anacostia Marine Color Guard and some tunes by world-renowned Irish tenor Anthony Kearns, who also will appear at the National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol.
“I plan to sing inspirational music, ‘God Bless America.’ most certainly — all meant to inspire us to reflect and to remember those who served in the armed forces, and in the wars, both past and present,” Mr. Kearns tells The Beltway.
“It means much to me personally. I am an Irish man, looking in on America, so to speak. I’ve met a lot of vets over the years, and I find they are humble, they are hardworking, and they all had the calling to serve their country. To honor them is a great thing,” he says.
The emcee for the evening is none other than The Washington Times’ opinion editor David Keene. John Solomon, editor of The Times, will act as host. There is charity involved here: A percentage of ticket sales will benefit Caring for Military Families, an outreach of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Yes, ahem, there are tickets. Interested parties can consult MemorialDayTribute.eventbrite.com. (Psst: The password is “Veterans”.)
SHORING UP THE MIDDLE
Voter vexation with elected officials is the highest on record, according to a new Gallup poll that finds that, six months before the midterms polls open, 72 percent of registered voters say most members of Congress do not deserve re-election. Another 22 percent give the lawmakers the nod, a finding that is “on pace” to be the lowest approval of Congress the pollster has measured in an election year.
But wait. Now on the political landscape, and a timely launch it is: the Centrist Project Voice, which bills itself as “the first political action committee supporting candidates poised to set aside partisan politics and focus on the core issues of critical importance to all Americans.” And project organizers say they will promote centrist candidates regardless of their party affiliation.
“Most Americans are moderates, yet we are represented by officials who pander to the extremes of the electorate and put partisan politics ahead of what’s best for our country as a whole,” said Centrist Project founder Charles Wheelan, an author and policy fellow at Dartmouth College.
The PAC’s first endorsement is Larry Pressler, who served three terms as a Republican senator from South Dakota. The endorsement is accompanied by some rambunctious talk.
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