- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2003

One more thing

A group of Washingtonians proved one evening this week that it’s never too late to toast a departed friend.

Of all otherwise bright and sunny mornings, plans for a memorial dinner in honor of Ken Smith, deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times, were hashed out September 11, 2001, by longtime Reader’s Digest Editor Bill Schulz and political observer David Fenstermaker, among others, at the University Club.

History, needless to say, postponed the tribute.

For readers of this newspaper who didn’t know Mr. Smith, he was “a ferocious gentleman, a civil brawler,” his former colleague, Tony Snow of the Fox News Channel, recalled in a personal tribute.

“He loved college basketball, professional football, fine bourbon and imported beer. He was a neatnik and a jock. He loved to dance the shag and listen to opera. He could recite Shakespeare and baseball statistics with equal gusto and facility. He whiled away evenings in chinos watching sports, in a tuxedo smoking fine cigars with Washington eminentos, or in shorts playing basketball. Sometimes, he just retreated to his basement study which he built himself polishing prose that exposed the imbecility of sado-environmentalism or testified to the joys of simple religious faith,” Mr. Snow wrote.

“Ken lived to write. He churned out editorials for The Washington Times, produced columns for the Wall Street Journal and crafted exposes for Reader’s Digest. He cherished having his own column and planned to compose a final homily titled, ‘Just one more thing.’ ”

At this week’s memorial at the University Club, Mr. Schulz recalled that five days before Mr. Smith’s terminal illness stole his last breath at age 44, the editor crawled from his bed to purchase a Lexus SUV — $35,000 of his hard-earned money he wished to escape U.S. government tax policy.

If he couldn’t steer the SUV, Mr. Smith reasoned, let his friends enjoy the luxurious ride after he’s gone. In fact, Mr. Snow said, the editor gave all his retirement account savings to charity because he wanted to be sure “that Uncle Sam will get only one bite at the apple.”

Lifting his glass to Mr. Smith Tuesday night, Mr. Fenstermaker said: “There has been a big void left by a friend who was low-key and anonymous when it came to fame and fortune. He touched countless lives by his writing and his life and faith.”

Another gone

The Atlantic Media Co. has announced an annual $25,000 journalism award in honor of Michael Kelly, the first American reporter killed while covering the war in Iraq.

Mr. Kelly, who died at the age of 46, was editor of two Atlantic Media publications, the Atlantic Monthly and National Journal. The future award will recognize a journalist whose work exemplifies a quality that animated Mr. Kelly’s career: the fearless expression and pursuit of truth.

“Michael was the boldest man I’ve ever met,” says Atlantic Media Chairman David G. Bradley. “At the center of his genetic wiring was moral courage.”

Sport of politics

Try as he might, Sen. George Allen of Virginia, son of the late Washington Redskins coach George Allen, can’t help but mix politics with football.

Reacting this week to word that Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, would retire at the end of this congressional session, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee remarked: “An open seat in Louisiana is encouraging, and with President Bush leading the ticket Republicans will be running strong in ACC and SEC territory.”

He was referring to college football’s ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) and SEC (Southeastern Conference), where Democrats are now forced to defend five open seats in the 2004 election.

Roadside reminders

Craig Nelsen, director of ProjectUSA in Washington, is impressed with public support of an anti-immigration billboard campaign targeting nine congressional districts.

“Last week, we asked you to help sponsor the first billboard, which will be in Utah’s Third Congressional District. And you haven’t let us down,” he writes. “In just this past week alone, we’ve received more donations than in our best previous month ever, nearly paying the entire cost of our first billboard.”

Utah Republican Rep. Christopher B. Cannon, target of one of the billboards, introduced an amnesty bill that Mr. Nelson says encourages further illegal immigration — “in spite of the fact that polls show the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose amnesties.”

“It is time Congress begins reflecting the will of the American people,” he says.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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