- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bush vs. blank

Mr. Fund-raiser himself, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, is obviously impressed — and worried — about George W. Bush’s campaign fund-raising ability.

Observing in a memo we obtained that President Bush has just broken the $100 million mark in fund raising, Mr. McAuliffe states: “This breaks all presidential fund-raising records in history. No candidate has ever had this much cash in the bank this early — or ever — in an election.”

The DNC chairman informs the Democratic Party that it must have an additional $500,000 in the door by Dec. 15 to reach its 2003 financial goal.

“If we do not make this goal, we will move into 2004 already behind. We can’t let this happen,” he says, adding that matters are made worse by the fact that “Bush is running unopposed in the GOP primary.”

This obviously isn’t the case in his party, which features an entire stage of Democrats vying for the White House next November.

As Mr. McAuliffe warns: “The clock is ticking.”

Send our regrets

“The Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee invites you to a reception with the cast members of ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ as we continue our quest to make over the White House in 2004.”

Time to deal

“A betting man would put his chips on George W. in the 2004 presidential election,” writes Timothy P. Carney in the fall issue of Doublethink, published by America’s Future Foundation, whose board includes conservative names such as Edwin Meese III, Edwin J. Feulner Jr. and Barbara Ledeen.

“There remains a distinct possibility, however, that the American people will elect a Democrat next year,” he adds.

So what factors ultimately will decide the president’s fate?

“To get a good feel for Bush’s chances in 2004, keep your eye on the Iowa caucuses, the death toll in Iraq and the unemployment figures,” says Mr. Carney, who has written for the Evans-Novak Political Report.

Doing its share

For years, our reliable source at The Washington Post has identified himself as “Ben Bradlee.”

As for our State Department insider, a history buff, he uses the alias “Ben Franklin.”

The real Ben Franklin, of course, helped shape this country’s economy. He argued that wealth was best obtained through hard work; therefore, every person had the same opportunity to achieve success. He also helped establish this country’s paper currency system, and today his face appears on the $100 bill.

As for the fictitious Ben Franklin, he checks in this week with a leaflet from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), previously a branch of the U.S. Information Agency until absorbed by the State Department.

“Apparently ECA has a large budget, since it can afford 39,000 hotel rooms in the Washington, D.C., area,” Ben observes. “That is in addition to travel elsewhere in the United States and the rest of the world. Perhaps it is money well spent, but I am curious how much 39,000 hotel rooms cost.”

The leaflet draws attention to Tuesday’s ECA Exchange Fair at State Department headquarters, and states:

“Question: How many Washington, D.C. reservations did the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs make for program participants last year?

“Answer: 39,000 hotel rooms.”

To answer Ben’s question, given Washington’s average U.S. government hotel room booking rate of $150, 39,000 rooms per year costs taxpayers nearly $6 million. Stay two nights and double the cost. Heck, why not stay a week and visit the Smithsonians?

However, as the ECA reminds us, its “exchanges and education are making a real impact on our local economy” — devastated, particularly the hotel industry, as it was by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Lunch with dad

We wrote yesterday about the wives of politicians, including Susan Allen, wife of Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who carry their husbands’ faces on popular wooden cigar-box purses, lined in plush black velvet.

Now we learn from Mrs. Allen that when her 5-year-old daughter, Brooke, spotted her dad’s smiling mug on her mom’s purse, she wanted to take it to school — as her lunchbox.

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

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