- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002


It was suggested in this column yesterday that President Bush, who often mixes his prose with "ums" and "uhs," could be sending listeners friends and foes alike a signal of uncertainty.

"If you aren't careful, it's a killer," said speech researcher Herbert Clark of Stanford University, although not specifically referring to Mr. Bush.

And what do average Americans think about the commander in chief's peppered elocution?

"I don't find the use of 'uhs' and 'ums' by President Bush to be a signal of uncertainty at all," writes Phyllis Ketrow of Medaryville, Ind., one of dozens of Inside the Beltway readers to weigh in on the president's presentations. "Rather, I think it signals that he is not delivering a rehearsed line.

"Many politicians have their patter down so much so that no matter what question is asked of them, or what topic is introduced, they still repeat the same mantra," she says. "We all use 'uhs' and 'ums' when speaking spontaneously. Whether President Bush is always speaking spontaneously or not, the 'uhs' and 'ums' make it seem so."

Finally, apparently referring to a previous president, Catherine Forester of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., observes: "Funny, they measure the 'ums' and 'uhs,' but no measurement of the lies."

The goods

Speaking of past presidents who tell whoppers, to mark the 30th anniversary of the June 17, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Office Building, the National Archives will actually open up its vaults to display "the evidence."

But you had better look fast.

The items will be on display for two hours only 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 13 in the auditorium of the National Archives at College Park.

A "one-time" opportunity, an Archives notice stresses, to photograph and film the Watergate evidence seized by the police.

Items to go on display include the original photographs used as exhibits at the trial of the burglars; the address book that proved to be the link between the burglars and the White House; and the contents of a bag found in the possession of one of the burglars, including bugging devices, camera film lights, tools and electrical tape.

Completing Clinton

The 890-page hardcover third and final volume of the "Public Papers of President William Jefferson Clinton, 2000-2001" is now available for sale for the bargain price of $75 from the Government Printing Office.

Binding the final chapter of the Clinton presidency public speeches, messages and statements, news conferences and communications to Congress means the U.S. government is now officially finished with Mr. Clinton (apart from paying his retirement), and the nation's 42nd president can now be relegated to the history books.

Consider the source

A Florida congressman informed Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday that it should be considered a privilege, not a right, for foreign nationals to enter the United States.

"Entrance into the United States is not a guaranteed right," said Republican Rep. Mark Foley. "We need to require all people who want to come to the United States from a country proven to sponsor terrorism to register before they even think of getting on a plane or boat."

The congressman said the very next phase in stopping terrorists from entering this country should be to register foreigners oversees, before they are ever issued a visa. He said that includes fingerprinting and photographing everybody.

"It may not be pretty, and it may not be convenient, but we will defend Americans at any cost," he said. "We have to eradicate the cancer at the source, and that's in the terrorists' back yards."

Wishes and favors

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was asked yesterday if he was carrying his index card?

"My index card?" he asked.

"Yeah, with your favors."

It was reported this week that the South Dakota Democrat keeps an index card in his pocket to remind him of things he owes senators or the things they owe him.

Yes, Mr. Daschle confirmed, every day a blank card is attached to the top of his schedule so that he can jot things down, "and sometimes they are favors."

In fact, the Senate's top Democrat said yesterday that he's even given Republican Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott "a list of the things that we want ."

"It was one of those times when Trent and I were just like that, and I said, 'Here, Trent. Here's my wish list. Can you help me?'" joked the Democrat, who isn't holding his breath.

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