- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

Heritage and hostages

"I didn't surrender any heritage. Nobody held a gun to my head," an angry Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III tells Inside the Beltway.

Referring to this newspaper's headline, "Gilmore Surrenders Virginia Heritage," and story reporting that Mr. Gilmore, chairman of the Republican National Committee, replaced his yearly Confederate History Month proclamation with one commemorating both sides in the Civil War.

The governor's previous proclamations, which condemned slavery, also spoke of the "noble spirit and inspiring leadership of great Confederate generals."

The new proclamation, which Mr. Gilmore called "the right approach to bring all Virginians together," still recognizes Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, but adds Sgt. William H. Carney, a former slave who fought for the North.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People threatened to lead an economic boycott of Virginia, similar to one it staged in protest of the Confederate flag flying above the South Carolina State House, if Mr. Gilmore issued the state's traditional Confederate History Month proclamation.

"Nobody makes my mind up for me," Mr. Gilmore tells this column. "I caved in to no one. This was the right thing to do."

Brag Bowling, a leader in the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, disagrees: "He's knuckled right under what the NAACP wanted," he says.

Shame on you

There's no getting rid of Bill Clinton in Washington.
He was here again this week, in spirit, appearing on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Introduced by none other than Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican.
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," said Mr. Clinton in a videotape, one of several cited by Mr. Specter that advocate the elections of candidates in the guise of issues advocacy ads.
Mr. Specter says such ads violate federal election law, and adds that the Republican National Committee is just as guilty as the Democratic National Committee in disguising them.
"While the DNC and RNC ads did not use the words 'Vote for Clinton,' or 'Dole for President,' these advertisements certainly urged the election of one candidate and the defeat of another."

Choosing commanders

Hoping to prevent another presidential election fiasco like the one we witnessed in Florida, a retired Marine-turned-U.S.-senator is leading the charge for reform.
Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has introduced legislation giving states incentive for adopting uniform absentee ballots not only for military personnel, but overseas citizens.
"In the 2000 election, officials in strategic areas of the country, including Florida, failed to count thousands of military absentee ballots," he says.
Under his strategy, federal election officials will create a uniform military and overseas citizen ballot that is easily identifiable to state election officials. Grant funds would cover all expenses of implementing the new ballots on the state level.

Big Mac attack

Why is Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell warning of catastrophic consequences if mad-cow and foot-and-mouth diseases cross our fences?

The cattle population of this country is rarely discussed, but in Mr. Campbell's state of Colorado alone there are 3.15 million head of cattle. Add to that the 12,000 beef producers in the state, and that explains his concern.

Reagan rerun

Rep. James P. Moran isn't one to pull punches, and the Virginia Democrat doesn't in reaction to President Bush's proposed $1.6 trillion across-the-board tax cut.
A letter Mr. Moran sent to Arlington constituent David Hammond labels the Bush tax cut "fiscally irresponsible" and a threat to the nation's prosperity.
"This tax proposal has the potential to return us to … the 1980s," warns Mr. Moran, taking one of his customary swipes at former President Ronald Reagan.

Who won?

Ironic as it is that the United States depends to a significant degree on importing oil from Iraq's Saddam Hussein, "we just seem to shrug our shoulders and say that is the way it is."
So says Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican, who observes that as recently as 1998, the U.S. imported 5.1 million barrels of oil per day. Today, our country imports 8.6 million barrels, our foreign oil dependence rising from about 39 percent to 59 percent in two years.
"We fought a war in 1991. We lost 147 lives. We had 437 wounded, 23 taken prisoner. I don't want to even estimate the cost to the American taxpayer," says the senator.
"That was a war over oil. Make no mistake about it. It was to ensure that Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait and go on into Saudi Arabia and control the world's supply of oil. We fought that war. We won that war. But what are we doing today?
"We are importing 750,000 barrels of oil from Iraq, our good friend Saddam Hussein. Isn't that ironic?"

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