- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2003

‘They’re cheap suits’

A slate of summery senators led by Trent Lott created a sartorial stir on the floor of the Senate yesterday.

Republican Sens. Lott of Mississippi, Ted Stevens of Alaska, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri and Gordon Smith of Oregon all showed up wearing seersucker suits. Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, fit right in with his rumpled powder-blue suit and bow tie.

Several of the men, who stood around admiring one another’s duds during a vote on an amendment to the State Department authorization bill, wore bow ties and white-buck shoes. Mr. Bond wore brown-and-white saddle shoes.

“I’ll be waiting for my Good Humor bar,” said Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican.

“Are you going to sing?” wondered Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, from the well of the Senate.

The troupe of “silly suits,” as one observer called them, sauntered outside the Senate chamber together to accept compliments from female staffers around the Ohio Clock.

Asked directly how such flamboyance fit with their conservative ideologies, Mr. Lott replied: “These are good, solid Republican values,” he said. “They’re cheap suits.”

10-year war?

A veteran Republican congressman is calling for U.S. troops to be brought home from Iraq “before more and more of them are murdered.”

“It seems that every day we read about a young American soldier being killed in Iraq,” says Tennessee Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. “We can be friends with the Iraqi people without making our soldiers sitting ducks for Islamic terrorists.”

The congressman says it is “so politically correct today and sounds so fashionable and intellectual to say that the U.S. will have to be in Iraq for several years and that it will not be easy and we must be prepared for the sacrifice and the difficulties ahead. Well, someone should ask ‘Why?’ ”

He agrees with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a very evil man, a tyrant and brutal dictator, but he pointed out that Mr. Hussein’s “total military budget was only about two-tenths of 1 percent of ours. He was no threat to us, as this three-week battle — with almost no resistance — proved.

“Our military did a great job, as we all knew they would. Now, we should bring them home,” he said.

So far, the U.S. has spent more than $100 billion on Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the congressman has been handed estimates that the United States will remain in Iraq “at least five — and probably 10 — years.”

Given current deficits in the hundreds of billions, “we will have to borrow the money to do all this,” he warns.

Having Faith

A virtual Who’s Who of Reagan-era luminaries convened Tuesday night to honor Faith Ryan Whittlesey.

A living legend among anti-communist and limited-government conservatives, the 64-year-old Mrs. Whittlesey headed the White House Office of Public Liaison from 1983 to 1985 and twice served as Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Switzerland.

But she also never hesitated fighting against a State Department and influential White House advisers who preferred to accommodate communism in Europe, Asia and Latin America rather than defeat it.

Former colleagues privately praised her as one of the handful of unflinching conservatives who tried to convey Mr. Reagan’s message and implement his policies in a White House pockmarked with Republican “liberals” and “pragmatists,” says this newspaper’s Ralph Z. Hallow, who attended the Mayflower Hotel salute.

The 50 or so dinner hosts included former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, and commentator Pat Buchanan.

“From my years of service under President Ronald Reagan, I recall and admire many people whom it was my privilege to meet who came to Washington,” Mrs. Whittlesey said.

And they came, she added, “not with the idea of grasping the reins of power and leaving at the end with the book deals and big lobbying contracts, but who faced a hostile media, congressional committees and staffers, and the entrenched members of America’s bureaucratic, unelected ‘permanent government.’

“They came here with the seemingly quixotic aim to expand the power and wealth of the citizenry at the expense of the very government of which they were a part,” she explained.

Her intentions were to salute many in her audience, but several commented the description was just as apt for her.

Mrs. Whittlesey praised the former Reaganites on hand for keeping the American citizenry safe by helping “to topple the USSR and its satellite allies — some of the most monstrous, murderous regimes in the whole of human history.”

She also took the opportunity to announce her resignation as president of the American Swiss Foundation, although she will retain the post of chairman.

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

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