- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

Iraq and a hard place

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he’s proven his critics wrong — including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Republican Rep. Jack Kemp of New York — who had “taken me to task” for arguing that the State Department was engaging in a “deliberate and systematic effort” to undermine President Bush’s foreign policy.

Writing in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Mr. Gingrich observes: “Only six days following my remarks, Bush made the following statement to a group of Iraqi Americans in Dearborn, Michigan: ‘The Iraqi people are fully capable of self-government.’ …

“Contrast that vision with a recent classified report by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, titled ‘Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes,’” says Mr. Gingrich.

The report, first obtained by the Los Angeles Times, states that “liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve” in Iraq, while “electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.”

One intelligence official told the newspaper the thrust of the report argues that “this idea that you’re going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible.”

History will ultimately determine what side of the argument is correct. In the meantime, to nobody’s liking except “anti-American elements,” more and more U.S. soldiers are being killed by hostile fire in Iraq — more than two dozen since major combat ended on May 1.

Obesity lifestyle

Americans who don’t appreciate an increasing number of food nannies telling them what — and what not — to stick in their mouths will be happy to know that the Free Congress Foundation has opened a new policy center: “Americans for Obesity.”

The ample Paul M. Weyrich, president of the conservative think tank, says the center’s purpose will be to “allow Americans to stuff themselves till they burst, whether the government and the trial lawyers like it or not.”

“We believe Free Congress is uniquely suited to lead the crusade for freedom to be fat,” he says. “On any given day you can find cookies, doughnuts and cakes in abundance in our offices, with members of our staff happily waddling from one to another.”

And isn’t there a weekly luncheon special at Free Congress?

“Our famous Wednesday Strategy Lunch, where long, thin faces are seldom to be seen, is all-you-can-eat,” confirms Mr. Weyrich. “The leading senators and congressmen who attend may sound like gasbags, but in fact they are just obese. As conservatives, to us obesity is not a medical condition, it is a lifestyle.”

A longtime Free Congress director, the rotund William S. Lind, will head Americans for Obesity. Mr. Lind was once quoted as saying, “My physical fitness test is six eclairs in five minutes.”

A noted writer and lecturer on military matters, Mr. Lind frequently reminds U.S. Marines that in POW camps the fat get thin and the thin … well, let’s not go there.

Asked about funding for the new policy center, Mr. Weyrich says, “We intend to ask every overweight American to send us just one dollar a year. We estimate that will provide Americans for Obesity with an annual budget in excess of $100 million.”

Americans for Obesity’s new offices, he adds, will be equipped with double-wide doorways, sturdy chairs and its own private Krispy Kreme store.

And if the trial lawyers come after Americans for Obesity?

“We’ll just sit on ‘em,” he answers.

Ronnie’s a doll

Ty Warner, creator of the popular Beanie Baby dolls, paid a visit to former first lady Nancy Reagan at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., and presented her with her own “Ronnie” the Beanie Baby.

The doll named for former President Ronald Reagan (Mrs. Reagan has called her husband “Ronnie” for more than 50 years) was created to help commemorate this Saturday’s commissioning of the nuclear-powered superaircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Profits from the sale of Ronnie, who will be sitting on store shelves starting next Monday, will benefit the Naval League of the United States’ Santa Barbara Council in its support of the Reagan ship and crew. The Reagans for years enjoyed a ranch outside Santa Barbara.

The Beanie Baby is gray, sports a naval uniform, shares the Gipper’s birthday of Feb. 6, and bears the seal of the Navy League and the name and hull number of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

The poem written on its tag reads:

As you sail out on your way

In our hearts you’ll always stay

And because you’re brave and true

This special bear is just for YOU!

Mrs. Reagan calls the bear “adorable,” and says she hopes it will find its way into the hearts and homes of thousands across the country. The former first lady will be guest of honor for this weekend’s commemoration in Norfolk.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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