- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Buying a Rudy

Ask former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for his autograph and it will cost you. Ten bucks.

That's just one demand said to be inserted into the speaking contract for the ex-mayor, who last Monday evening addressed the National Association of Broadcasters' Education Foundation awards ceremony in Washington.

Admired worldwide for rallying his city and the nation after the unconscionable loss of September 11, Mr. Giuliani, represented exclusively by the Washington Speakers Bureau, was paid $100,000 in return for his remarks that recognized local broadcasters for their outstanding community service during these difficult months.

Apart from the $10 per "Rudy" (apparently to be tallied and tacked on to Mr. Giuliani's final bill), an additional clause reportedly said no more than 30 posed photographs could be taken of the former mayor and guests.

The daylong NAB event featured a keynote address by Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge who, unlike the newly "privatized" Mr. Giuliani, speaks for free.

Exploding elephants

Who snatched the 4½-by-5-foot blue elephant sculpture parked outside the U.S. Marine Corps commandant's house in Washington?

One of 200 brightly-decorated elephants and donkeys so-called "Party Animals" revealed in recent months by first lady Laura Bush and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the blue elephant's demise has residents of Capitol Hill abuzz with conspiracy theories.

Some speculate the elephant was ordered removed by Marine Commandant Gen. James L. Jones because it was painted light blue and featured a U.S. Army airborne paratrooper on its side.

"This is the fun speculation," one city official tells this column. "After all, it's painted light blue, an Army color, and has the airborne insignia, and the Army airborne is not the Marines."

The more realistic story?

"The story I have been told is that the commandant himself called the mayor and had it removed for security reasons. He doesn't want anything sitting there," the official explains, referring to the threat of terrorists packing the plastic beast with explosives.

The colorfully painted animals, mascots of the Democrat and Republican parties, were positioned along Washington's avenues as part of an art project. Each animal was to have remained in place until this fall.

Two views

We heard from President Bush's former labor secretary nominee, Linda Chavez, yesterday after she read our version of her and her husband's unfriendly encounter with a Purcellville, Va., antique gun dealer peddling a Nazi flag.

It so happens that Mrs. Chavez, who is currently in San Francisco, has also written of the encounter in her syndicated column, posted yesterday. She writes that the conversation with the antique dealer started out calmly enough:

"'This stuff is really offensive,' my husband said, as we stood on the sidewalk in front of the display of the Nazi flag, a cap with the SS symbol emblazoned on it, several helmets and photographs of SS officers.

"'They're part of history. I've got World War I pistols here, too,' the surly fellow in a safari hat snapped.

"'It's not the same. Why don't you sell it on the Internet or someplace where people who want to buy it can find it, but you're not offending the rest of us,' my husband responded, getting angrier by the second.

"The dealer shoved a Soviet military belt buckle in front of our faces. 'Stalin killed more people than Hitler,' he sneered, 'but I don't see you complaining about my selling this stuff.'"

Soon, says Mrs. Chavez, curses and insults were flying:

"'It's his right to put out what he wants to,' a little fellow piped in as he moved menacingly toward us, made braver by a golf club he'd picked up from another display."

Mrs. Chavez agrees that the dealer has a First Amendment right to display the Nazi flag, yet concludes: "As symbols go, it doesn't get much worse that the swastika. The crooked cross symbolizes only one thing hate

"What kind of person wants to own this stuff?"

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