- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Fiercely independent

Describing the newspaper he edits as “honest, fair, bold, original, and not afraid of anybody,” Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Washington Times, accepted the 2003 Barbara Olson Award for Excellence and Independence in Journalism at the annual Washington Club Dinner on Wednesday night.

“We wear the mark of the politically incorrect as a badge of honor,” Mr. Pruden told the audience at the Willard Intercontinental. “That we have become the liveliest newspaper in town is an example of what dedicated men and women can accomplish. Any honor accorded to me, such as this recognition here tonight, belongs to these dedicated men and women. I only preside over what they do.”

The award, named for the outspoken Washington lawyer and author who perished when the plane she was on crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, was presented by American Alternative Foundation Chairman R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator. Dinner hosts included Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Henry Kissinger, T. Boone Pickens and Robert H. Bork.

Remarking on the changing face of journalism in America, Mr. Pruden noted when he started in the newspaper trade “nobody ever called us anything as grand as ‘journalists’ or ‘the media.’ We were just newspapermen.”

Today, he strives to continue that tradition.

“Someone once said that the Wall Street Journal is the newspaper for people who run the country, the New York Times is the newspaper for people who think they run the country, The Washington Post is the newspaper for people who think they ought to run the country, and The Washington Times is the newspaper for people who don’t think anyone should run the country. I don’t know about that, but we’ll sell a paper to anyone with a quarter.”

Doom and gloom

In one of the most monotonic speeches ever delivered in Washington, John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security, warned the Washington Club Dinner audience that terrorists, terrorist nations, terrorist states, rogue states, Iran, Syria, North Korea, even the island of Cuba, threaten to annihilate America with nuclear, chemical, biological and every other weapon of mass destruction known to mankind.

When he finally walked away from the podium, actor and commentator Ben Stein, the dinner’s master of ceremonies, quipped: “I’m going home to kill myself. The end of the world is happening in 15 minutes. Enjoy your meal.”

Picking a lady

I was dining at Taverna on Capitol Hill the other night and spotted Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich sitting in a dark corner almost by his lonesome self. Which reminded me that the Ohio congressman is in need of a first lady.

“As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady,” Mr. Kucinich told the Fox News Channel earlier this month. “And I certainly want a dynamic, outspoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world and for universal single-payer health care and a full employment economy. If you are out there call me.”

In that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is taken (sort of), PoliticsNH.com has taken the candidate up on his offer, sponsoring a national contest to help him find the perfect first lady. The political site is posting profiles and photographs of interested single women from all over the world, and if Mr. Kucinich sees anyone he likes the site will fly the lucky lady to New Hampshire and treat the pair to dinner.

• Susan, 37, an advertising executive from Louisiana, calls attention to her foreign policy experience: “I have just recently returned to the United States after working abroad for U.S. companies for over 12 years. My experience in the Middle East, Eastern and Central Europe has been overwhelmingly educational.”

• Barbara, 49, a journalist from Michigan, points out: “Let’s face it, having a journalist in his camp, the future President Kucinich could save money and have the first lady double as his press secretary. Should a scandal of any kind pop up, who better to nip it in the bud than a reporter?”

• Geri, 20, a native of Paris, France, who lives in Massachusetts, confesses: “I find Dennis to be a very handsome man. I’m looking for a special someone, mature and old enough to handle a strong, passionate lady like me. I may be young, but after all age is nothing but a number.”

• Finally, Toni, 53, a librarian from Ohio, writes: “Why let George Bush be the only one to have a librarian in his corner? You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man.”

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

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