- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

Time and again

First Time magazine got it wrong this week.

Then it was the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

After that, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

All were critical of President Bush, who on Memorial Day honored Confederate soldiers with floral wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Reid went so far as to call Mr. Bush's gesture "racially motivated."

Both the senator and Miss Dowd cited a Time magazine report claiming that Mr. Bush two years ago "quietly reinstituted" the practice of sending a wreath to the Confederate Monument. According to Time, the president's father, President George Bush, ended the wreath tradition in 1990.

"Why on earth would the president of the U.S. in the year 2003 take the trouble to do that?" Miss Dowd asked in Wednesday's newspaper.

He didn't.

The Washington Times reported on Wednesday what this Inside the Beltway column wrote on May 30, 2001, of the presidential wreath layings: "There has been no change in administration policy, that the first Bush administration continued to send the wreaths throughout, and that the practice was continued by President Clinton," the military office in charge of cemetery affairs said this week.

(Of course, nobody paid mind to our original wreath-laying item because Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi had yet to open his mouth at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party and make race-baiting the latest "rage" of Democrats.)

Finally, what everybody (except us) forgot to add is that apart from the Confederate Monument which honors 482 Americans, including 58 wives of Civil War veterans and 12 unknowns buried around its base this and past presidents sent Memorial Day wreaths to the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Spanish-American War Memorial and the mast of the USS Maine.

Miss Dowd told us yesterday that she will be issuing a correction after Time magazine issues its correction. Time was expected to post a correction on its Web site as early as last night.

Harvard rarity

The executive nomination of former Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas J. Ridge to be the nation's first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security was confirmed unanimously this week by the Senate.

Prior to the confirmation, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, pointed out that "the clearest indication of Governor Ridge's character is something that you won't find on his resume. It is the story of his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War."

"Governor Ridge was one of the few, if not the only, graduate of Harvard who served in Vietnam as an enlisted man, and he did so with great distinction. Infantry Staff Sergeant Ridge was awarded a Bronze Star for valor. These are impressive credentials that speak to the character of a remarkable man," Miss Collins said.

At that point, a visibly impressed Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, the Senate's longest-serving Democrat, rose to speak.

"I listened with great interest to the senator from Maine," he said. "If I were feeling otherwise, I would be almost persuaded remembering that old Baptist hymn we used to sing in West Virginia, 'Almost Persuaded' I would be almost persuaded to vote for him, if I had intended to otherwise. In this case, I think I will join her in voting for Governor Ridge."

Double duty

Speaking of West Virginia's senior senator and answering Uncle Sam's call to service, Sen. Robert C. Byrd will be proud to read this morning that Marine Corps reservist Tom Finnigan, a research associate with Citizens Against Government Waste here in Washington, has heeded his country's call to active military duty.

Mr. Finnigan shipped out just a few days ago. But wouldn't you know before he left he helped crown Mr. Byrd as CAGW's "Porker of the Year for 2002."

The West Virginia Democrat outdistanced four other pork finalists by a considerable margin. The latter bunch of top pork producers are Democratic Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings of South Carolina, and Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

Fish food

Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton told 500 delegates to the first National Fisheries Leadership Conference yesterday that "help is on the way" for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 69 national fish hatcheries and that President Bush will seek a 16 percent increase $8.1 million in the system's budget for 2004.

"Another of your jobs is dealing with invasive species," Mrs. Norton pointed out. "I came across one of the ugliest examples this summer [in a Maryland pond outside Washington] when I met the [northern] snakehead fish. This fish eats all the other fish in a pond and then crawls out and over to the next pond, where it also eats all the fish."

The secretary added on second thought: "Maybe it does belong in Washington after all."

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