- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

Pedal to the metal

In light of his “McCarthy-like attacks” against the State Department, a freshman congressman is calling on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to “do the right thing now” and resign from the U.S. Defense Policy Advisory Board.

“If he does not resign, the president, the secretary of defense, and the secretary of state should hold him accountable for his statements, and they should demand his resignation from the board,” says Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

“The Bush administration can either stand by the statements of Mr. Gingrich or they can make it clear that those statements are unacceptable.”

The Defense Policy Advisory Board is chartered to provide the secretary of defense and his top deputy with advice on a wide range of national security matters.

Mr. Van Hollen says hundreds of dedicated men and women in Washington and around the world were subjected to “outrageous and unwarranted attacks” by the former Republican leader, both in the article, “Rogue State Department,” he wrote for the current issue of Foreign Policy, and in an earlier speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Gingrich told AEI, where he’s a senior fellow, that certain State Department officials were engaging in a “deliberate and systematic effort to undermine President Bush’s foreign policy.” He later asserted in writing that rising anti-American sentiment is partially the result of U.S. diplomats abdicating “values and principles in favor of accommodation and passivity.”

“He accuses them of propping up dictators, coddling the corrupt and ignoring secret police abuse around the world,” says Mr. Van Hollen.

The congressman’s call is “curious to me when the speaker has called for a 40 percent increase in the Foreign Service budget and reforms for the State Department — not to weaken it, but to make it an equal pillar to the defense community and the intelligence community,” Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler told Inside the Beltway yesterday.

Unlike the Department of Defense, “there’s been no overhaul of the State Department since its inception, and no one would argue today that the military isn’t transformed for the better. So the speaker is simply pointing out that the State Department should go through a similar transformation.”

Mr.Tyler added that Mr. Gingrich has “been going out of his way not to criticize the secretary of state. The State Department is a Ferrari that goes 30 miles per hour, and it should go 180 miles per hour, as it was designed to do.”

Public engagement

Our recent item about White House spokesman Taylor Gross popping the question to the Senate Press Gallery’s Amy Harkins in the White House Rose Garden caught the eye of Doug Shaddix of King & Spalding in Atlanta.

Mr. Shaddix, after all, is the first to document such a happy event with the White House Historical Society.

“In October of 1984, while working at the Republican National Committee, I got engaged in the main foyer, just beneath the chandelier, to my sweetheart — with four beady-eyed Secret Service agents looking on,” he recalls.

“The White House Historical Society had no record of anyone getting engaged inside, though I’m certain that some have possibly proposed while going through on the tour,” he adds. “I waited until a time when President Reagan would be away in order to be allowed to come in and pop the question.”

His future wife, Carol, was personal assistant to Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman, and he’d arranged with the OMB staff to have her take a document to the director in the Red Room, “where I was to accost my swain en route,” says Mr. Shaddix.

“As it turned out, I could not get into the Red Room … because White House Chief of Staff James Baker was in the Red Room. As Carol entered the foyer, I had to intercept her and propose in the lobby while ushers and agents looked on.”

That obviously made the moment twice as stressful.

“Yes, I was somewhat intimidated,” he says, “and for that reason did not get down on my knees in the traditional manner.”

Air overdose

A recent headline in the Boston Globe — “Thirteen workers complain of CO2 poisoning” — is a perfect example of this country’s “global-warming obsession,” says a top official of the Cooler Heads Coalition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Actually, an Associated Press story beneath the erroneous headline said the seafood-company workers were recovering after being taken to Portland, Maine, hospitals for “carbon monoxide poisoning.”

“CO2 ‘poisoning,’” laughs CEI’s Christopher C. Horner, referring to carbon dioxide. “No wonder these papers are so batty about global-warming alarmism. They’ve never even taken the time to pay the slightest bit of attention to distinguish between poison and human breath, the head on your beer, plant food necessary for photosynthesis, etc.”

GI Joe

Who better than Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, to introduce legislation to provide up to 250,000 additional troops specifically for homeland-security duties under primary state control.

He’s the only member of Congress drilling in the Army National Guard — that is, until he concludes 30 years of military service next month.

Joining Mr. Wilson in sponsoring the legislation is Rep. Lincoln Davis, Tennessee Democrat, a captain in the Tennessee state Guard.

What the bill would do is “allow us to tap into the thousands of ready-to-serve troops in state defense forces,” says Mr. Wilson, adding that state defense forces were used heavily during World Wars I and II, fielding over 100,000 troops specifically tasked with homeland-security missions.

These volunteer forces receive no pay while in training or standby, but are paid standard National Guard pay scales if activated for a state emergency.

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

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