- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

3-D disparity

First we learn that cash flows could stymie South Carolina’s presidential primary, which is supposed to take place in seven months, because the cash-strapped state Democratic Party doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

The most recent state filing showed the Democrats had only $288.93 in their bank account, well short of the required $450,000 to hold the primary.

Now we’ve gotten hold of the current Federal Election Commission June quarterly filing for net cash on hand for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, in Washington — $514,677. Compare that sum with that of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, or NRCC, $5.43 million.

In the previous month of May, the NRCC raised $8 million, compared with the DCCC’s $1.5 million.

As for a yearly comparison, the NRCC thus far in 2003 has pulled in $39 million in contributions to the DCCC’s $10 million.

No wonder congressional Republicans are handing their Democratic rivals a new “3-D” theme of alliteration: “disengaged, depressed and destitute.”

What Ari won’t miss

Yesterday, aboard Air Force One en route to Florida, outgoing White House spokesman Ari Fleischer had the following exchange with desperate correspondents along for the ride:

Reporter: “Why can’t you find Saddam Hussein?”

Fleischer: “As Ambassador Bremer said, we will.”

Reporter: “Now you’re saying he’s alive.”

Fleischer: “It’s just a question, just a question of time. If he’s alive, we’ll find him. Thank you for that clarification. If he’s alive, he’ll be found over time.”

Reporter: “Is he alive? Did you say he was alive?”

Fleischer: “No. I said —”

Reporter: “What did you say?”

Fleischer: “… I answered it. And then I indicated that if he’s alive, we will find him.”

By sea

Former first lady Nancy Reagan will be in Norfolk on July 12 to commission America’s most technologically advanced super aircraft carrier, the apex of Nimitz Class design, the first carrier to incorporate a 722-ton bulbous bow design, the future of aircraft carriers — the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76).

Joined by President and Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Reagan on March 4, 2001, christened the Ronald Reagan, paying lasting tribute to the life, achievements and presidency of her husband.

But a christening and commissioning, we now learn, are two very different ceremonies.

“Maritime lore has held for centuries that the spirit of a ship’s sponsor enters the vessel at christening and remains with it forever,” according to the Navy League of Hampton Roads. “Once a vessel is christened with the traditional champagne, she slides down the ways into the water and enters the final phases of construction and fitting out.”

For a large ship like the Reagan — 1,092 feet long, 47,000 tons of structural steel, 1 million pounds of aluminum, and a 4.5-acre flight deck — it can take months, if not years.

“Once the vessel has completed rigorous testing and manufacturer sea trials — and is deemed by the shipbuilder to be capable of performing her design mission — she is prepared to join the fleet,” the Navy League states.

Thus, the commissioning ceremony will culminate with Mrs. Reagan raising a long whiplike commissioning pennant to the masthead. At that time, the vessel becomes a United States ship (the USS Alfred in 1775 was the first such U.S. ship to be commissioned).

“The long whiplike pennant that flies above all vessels in service of the United States of America traces its roots to the Anglo-Dutch naval wars of 1642-1654,” the Navy League states. “British Admiral Robert Blake affixed a buggy whip to the masthead to convey the message that it was his intention to ‘horsewhip’ his adversaries.”

Among its many high-tech features, the Reagan has a network based on fiber optics for improved communication, features a redesigned weapons elevator system, and has improved facilities for female personnel.

or by mountain

Washington public relations mogul and presidential historian-author Peter Hannaford said a bell rang in the back of his mind after reading our pair of items about the New Hampshire legislature renaming a mountain “Mount Reagan,” after former President Ronald Reagan.

“In our younger days, my wife and I tramped up and down quite a few New England mountains,” recalls Mr. Hannaford, a former Reagan adviser. “Later, back in California, we and our sons did the same in the Sierra Nevada. In those days, I kept a binder with notes and a log from our climbs and hikes.

“I pulled it down from a shelf and found that my wife and I had climbed ‘Mt. Reagan’ in July 1955 — the same day we climbed its next door neighbor, Mt. Washington. ‘Mt. Reagan’ — has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

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

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