- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Democrats are coming

About the only body in Washington that Democrats are in control of these days is the Democratic National Committee.

So rather than convening a summit on the South Lawn of the White House or in the majority wing of Congress to unveil what is being called the “New Democrat” agenda, pow-wow co-hosts Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico are summoning Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman — both presidential candidates — and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and a number of other influential Democrats to the Capitol Hyatt Hotel on June 17.

Inside the Beltway is told that the topics of discussion will include developing a “winning message” to retake a majority in Washington, terrorism and the role of U.S. leadership, the “stagnant” economy, and federal and state budget deficits.

‘Hate baiting’

An irate Rev. Jesse Jackson says he is being attacked today much the same way the Martin Luther King was attacked in his day.

Playing the race card in defending his large — but questionable — business empire, Mr. Jackson says there’s nothing illegal with him receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from major organizations, including NASCAR.

In an interview with NASCAR Winston Cup Scene, Mr. Jackson responds angrily to requests by the National Legal and Policy Center of Washington — which first appeared in this column — that the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing end its support to his controversial organizations.

“These attacks by the policy center, these are unending attacks,” Mr. Jackson says. “Dr. Martin Luther King was called a communist, he was called a nigger, he was hated, he was killed. This kind of hate baiting is really a perversion.”

Put down your fork

Yes, it’s come to this — a Washington conference on eating, obesity, individual responsibility and public policy.

And no better time, as the tort system in this country, some fear, is on its way to dampening individual responsibility and threatening the existence of companies whose products may be labeled as fattening.

“By some calculations, being overweight is as deadly as smoking,” says the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, whose panel of experts will examine that claim and others and their implications for public policy.

They’ll tell us whether controlling obesity is a matter of government regulation — through taxes and public-disclosure laws — or whether it’s a matter of willpower and choice. The panel will also examine the epidemiology of obesity, real reasons Americans are overweight, and “difficulties” with legal and legislative remedies.

The Centers for Disease Control reported recently that obesity in the United States “has risen at an epidemic rate during the past 20 years.”

Fiction writers

Sidney Blumenthal, who wrote for The Washington Post and the New Yorker before becoming senior adviser to President Clinton from 1997 to 2001, is author of the new book “The Clinton Wars.”

While his publisher never sent us a copy to review, we have to laugh at a letter sent to the author last week by Craig Shirley, president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.

“Your latest love paean to Bill and Hillary Clinton is alas error-filled, as evidence by the untruth you write about me on page 333,” the Washington PR mogul writes. “For the record, I never said anything about [homosexual Washington writer] David Brock’s lifestyle as you falsely charge, nor did I ever hear any other conservatives take notice.

“Who was your source? Stephen Glass? Jayson Blair?”

Old warriors

What does a former White House national security adviser do to keep busy during this time of war and terror?

Richard Allen, President Reagan’s former national security chief, is helping to rebuild Iraq. He is just one of the heavyweights on an Iraqi reconstruction task force, headed by former ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, now senior vice president of the global group APCO Worldwide.

Kevin McCauley, of O’Dwyer’s PR Daily (odwyerpr.com), says the remainder of the Iraq team includes former Michigan Sen. Don Riegle, one-time chairman of the Senate Banking Committee; five-year Federal Aviation Administration head Jane Garvey; and ex-Rep. Steve Solarz, New York Democrat, formerly on the House International Affairs Committee.

Change the locks

The year in which Detroit presented ousted Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein with a key to the city: 1980

Harper’s Index, June 2003

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

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